Whether you're hosting a vegan at your holiday table, or looking for holiday recipes as a vegan yourself, it can be a daunting task to find recipes that accommodate the cruelty-free diet that taste as good as your grandmother's gravy-soaked mashed potatoes. Luckily, vegan recipes have evolved and flourished, and now the flavor of conscious eating easily mingles with the taste of tradition.
Soups Savory and Sweet
Fall and winter holidays invite hearty soups that are often made with meat stock or cream, but vegan soups can capture the same rich flavor without any animal products. A sweet potato coconut soup is the the essence of Thanksgiving. Lentil, Italian white bean or split pea soups--packed with animal-free protein and virtually no fat--serve up a hearty bowl for Christmastime. As warm weather approaches, soups that make use of asparagus, chard or broccoli bring springtime greens to the Easter table. Matzo ball soup made with tofu, instead of eggs, to bind the matzo balls is a classic at the Passover seder table. By July, celebrate America's independence with a cool summer fruit soup, like a spicy mango ginger or creamy avocado soup. Experiment with soy or rice milk and vegan yogurt for texture.
The Main Course
Central to most holiday tables is meat. Vegans can enjoy the holiday meal with soy-based vegan "meats," like sausage and ground beef, which make remarkable replacements. When in doubt, there is always Tofurky, the tofu Thanksgiving turkey. Since not all vegans opt for meat substitutes, gourds, peppers and zucchini stuffed with rice, beans or protein-packed tempeh are a great main dish alternative. The basic potato "latke" pancake is a delicious vegan Chanukah treat that allows creative variations like sweet potato, leek or potato-apple. On St. Patrick's Day, bring out the cabbage, stuffed with nuts, mushrooms and herbs. Spring and summer holidays are a great time for a barbeque--pre-made vegan burgers work, but even better are homemade bean burgers on a thick whole-wheat role.
Side dishes are perhaps the easiest to prepare, since they often consist of vegetables in the first place. Sweet potato fries, roasted potatoes, green bean casseroles, gelatin-free cranberry sauce,and vegan filo spinach triangles please vegan and carnivore alike. Many vegan recipes employ Indian and Asian spices, like curry and soy, to spice up the side dish any time of year. Middle Eastern samplings, like hummus and babaganouj, are appropriate at a holiday table year-round.
Everything is possible for vegans, especially dessert. Silken tofu is an essential ingredient for a foolproof vegan pumpkin pie, and apple pie crusts are a cinch with nondairy margarine. Non-death by chocolate mousse, made with silken tofu and vegan chocolate chips, make a guilt-free Valentine's treat. At Easter, celebrate spring with Tofutti-based key lime pie, fruit compote or banana no-cream pie.
Products like tofu, Tofutti cream cheese, Ener-G egg replacer, flax seeds and bananas are just some of the dairy and egg substitutes that give vegan desserts a leg up on less healthy treats that use animal products. Even carnivores will be shocked that vegan tastes so good!