The festive season means enjoying food and drink for most families and that includes providing tasty vegan side dishes that satisfy them – and impress non-vegans – on Christmas Day can be a challenge.
With the traditional festive meal normally consisting of a turkey, beef chicken or ham, it’s easy for vegans to feel left out when it comes to the main course.
However, when it comes to side dishes, there are plenty of vegan options that are sure to impress and satisfy all taste buds.
In fact, the Christmas.co.uk team can highly recommend these vegan side dishes for Christmas lunch because they are a tasty treat for vegans and non-vegans alike.
Best vegan side dishes to enjoy on Christmas Day
Here, we offer some of the best vegan side dishes to enjoy on Christmas Day in the UK: From roasted root vegetables to Brussels sprouts with a twist, these dishes are not only healthy and packed with nutrients, but also bursting with flavour.
Whether you’re a long-time vegan, or just looking to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet, these side dishes are perfect for any festive occasion.
So, read on to discover some mouth-watering vegan sides to add to your Christmas menu this year.
Vegan crunchy roast potatoes with polenta and thyme
While we love some of the vegan dishes here, this creation of crunchy roast potatoes with polenta and thyme can be delivered to the dinner table without any explanation (or apology?) that it is a vegan dish.
This simple dish delivers crunchy roast potatoes and is a foolproof way to enjoy crisp yet fluffy roast potatoes for the festive meal.
This is the creation of Freya who runs the ‘Sweeter than oats’ blog.
- Potatoes – Use a floury white potato for the fluffed up texture
- Garlic cloves – Throw in with the potatoes for a sweet, fragrant flavour
- Thyme – or use rosemary
- Polenta – for that delicious crunch and flavour.
Freya’s blog offers the simple step-by-step process, and you’ll need potatoes that are peeled and cut into similar sizes.
The dish takes up to an hour to cook and this really will deliver crunchy, fluffy roast potatoes for everyone to enjoy!
Christmas.co.uk tip: You may be wondering which are the best potatoes for roasting in the UK? If so, here’s our quick guide:
- Crispy roasted potatoes that have fluffy middle: Maris Piper or King Edward (and, possibly, Desiree – which is best for mashing). That’s because these are known as ‘floury’ potatoes.
- Potatoes to avoid for the best roasted results: Any ‘waxy’ potato. They don’t have the same level of starch so won’t become fluffy. That means Charlotte Anya potatoes which are good for boiling but not mashing or roasting.
What is the difference between vegan and vegetarian food?
In case you are wondering what the difference between vegan and vegetarian food is, then here’s a quick explanation.
A vegan diet excludes all animal products, both meat and dairy, as well as any other products derived from animals such as honey and gelatine.
A vegetarian diet typically excludes meat but may include dairy and eggs.
Vegetarians may also follow various subcategories, such as lacto-ovo-vegetarians who eat both dairy and eggs, and lacto-vegetarians can eat dairy but not eggs, while ovo-vegetarians will avoid dairy but eat eggs.
In general, both diets emphasise plant-based foods and can provide a range of health benefits when balanced and properly planned.
If you have a vegan eating with you on Christmas Day, it’s worth checking beforehand about their culinary requirements rather than guessing!
Rachel Ama’s Ultimate Christmas vegan sides dishes!
Now here is an excellent YouTube video from Rachel Ama and her take on vegan side dishes is impressive.
Rachel offers two hearty vegan sides for a great Christmas dinner. They are creamy cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’ with crispy thyme toppings. Rachel’s ‘cheese’ sauce includes cashew nuts blended with water, garlic, flour, thyme, mustard, miso paste, smoked paprika with dried vegan cheese. (Vegan cheese is usually made from vegetable proteins including nuts such as cashews and vegetable oils and/or coconut oil. Some brands use soy and peas.).
There’s also an excellent sauteed green beans with crispy smoky coconut flakes dish. Rachel uses a vegan type of ‘Parmesan’ cheese at the end of this dish to add flavour.
Both are easy to make and will impress dinner guests – whether they are vegan or not!
Whole roasted coconut cauliflower
One of the best things about vegan side dishes is that they bring the opportunity of delivering different tastes and textures to the Christmas dinner table.
Here, the team at Veganuary – an event that encourages people to give up meat and go vegan for the month of January – have a great idea.
It’s in their ever-growing list of Christmas vegan recipe ideas [https://veganuary.com/vegan-christmas/] and while it’s aimed at being a main course for a veggie, we think it’s a flavoursome side dish too.
It takes 30 minutes to prepare and will take 1 hour to cook – and serve six people.
The recipe for whole roasted coconut cauliflower calls for a coconut paste to be made but we think a shop-bought version is good.
- 500g baby potatoes, larger ones halved
- 1 large cauliflower (about 750g)
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds – you will need to crunch them
- 100g curly kale, washed
- 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped,
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
The site has the preparation method for a whole cauliflower, but we think a smaller version will work just as well but simply buy a cauliflower that will feed the required number of people. This dish is an excellent offering for vegans but also, we found, a tasty addition to a roast chicken or turkey for the meat eaters at the table.
What are the benefits of a vegan diet?
There are many potential health benefits to following a vegan diet, including:
- Lower risk of chronic diseases: Studies show that vegans have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and other chronic diseases.
- Lower blood pressure and cholesterol: Vegan diets are naturally low in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Improved digestion: Eating a plant-based diet can help to improve digestion.
- Weight loss: Research suggests that following a vegan diet can help people lose weight and maintain a healthy weight over time.
- Better nutrient intake: When planned correctly, vegan diets can provide all the essential nutrients needed for good health, including protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin B12.
- Environmental benefits: Veganism is also associated with a smaller environmental impact, as it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and land use associated with industrial animal agriculture.
Caramelised Brussels sprouts
Melanie McDonald, a best-selling cookbook author and creator of A Virtual Vegan.
Mel offers flavour-packed and well-tested vegan recipes with clear preparation instructions.
She says her aim is to give cooks the confidence to deliver amazing vegan food from scratch – and her recipes are a real treat.
We particularly enjoyed her caramelised Brussels sprouts since they add something different.
For most Christmas lunch guests, Brussels sprouts are – sadly! – a popular dish but this offering might change their minds.
Mel tosses the sprouts in a sweet and tangy dressing and then roasts them until golden and caramelised.
After that, she tosses them in leftover dressing before serving.
They are very tasty and easy to prepare.
Mel offers an excellent step-by-step process to deliver the sprouts – visit her site for the method.
- 500 grams Brussels sprouts
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup –
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced very finely or grated
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves – or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
Mel highlights that sprouts will shrink so bear this in mind when deciding how much to prepare.
There are also these great Christmas vegan food ideas on Mel’s site.
Kirly-Sue’s vegan Christmas dinner wreath
Elsewhere on Christmas.co.uk, we offer a tasty selection of vegan Christmas dinner recipes and here we like Kirly-Sue’s take.
In this YouTube video, she looks at making a vegan Wellington, vegan gravy and oat bars.
But we were really taken with her vegan Christmas dinner wreath. It’s a lovely selection of vegetables that would grace any Christmas dinner table.
Who doesn’t like roasted potatoes and candied carrots?
The video below starts when Kirly-Sue shows what goes into the wreath. Enjoy!
Why do people choose to become vegan?
Along with the health benefits of becoming vegan that we discuss above, there are other reasons why people choose to become vegan. They include:
- Ethical considerations: For many vegans, the decision to avoid all animal products stems from ethical concerns related to animal welfare and the treatment of animals in the livestock industry.
- Environmental concerns: Some vegans choose to avoid animal products due to concerns about the environmental impact of animal agriculture, such as deforestation, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Health reasons: Many people adopt a vegan diet for potential health benefits, such as reducing the risk of chronic diseases and improving overall health.
- Religious or cultural beliefs: Certain religions or cultures may encourage a vegetarian or vegan diet.
- Taste preferences: Some people may simply prefer the taste of vegan foods and find a plant-based diet more enjoyable and satisfying.
- Concerns about food safety: In some cases, concerns about food safety and the use of antibiotics and hormones in animal agriculture may also motivate people to choose a vegan diet.
Vegan side dish – stuffed butternut squash
This vegan stuffed butternut squash is a great creation from Kate at Veggie Desserts and it’s a real showstopper.
For us, this is one dish that would make others at the dinner table take an interest – and ask for a taste!
It’s really a main dish but works well as a side offering too.
Seasoned with herbs, this is a lovely mix of cranberries, kale, mushrooms and lentils that are baked inside a squash.
It’s a simple and tasty offering and the presentation helps it standout.
- Butternut squash
- Red onion and garlic
- Dried thyme
- Chopped mushrooms
- Dried cranberries
- Pumpkin seeds.
The step-by-step tutorial offers a great way to deliver this impressive dish. It is an easy creation that will wow guests.
While baking the squash, you simply mix the other ingredients and cook the onion for a few minutes and adding mushrooms. Then add to the squash and bake for five minutes more.
Why should hosts make the effort with vegan side dishes at Christmas?
If you have never had to play host to a vegan at Christmas, then you might be wondering, why bother?
Put simply, as the number of people adopting a vegan diet continues to increase, it’s important for hosts to make the effort to accommodate their dietary preferences during the festivities. Here are a few reasons why:
- It shows that you care: Taking the time to consider the needs and preferences of your guests, including vegans, can demonstrate that you care about their well-being and happiness, which can help to create a more memorable and meaningful festive experience for everyone. For many, Christmas dinner is an inclusive meal that is to be enjoyed by religious and non-religious, and meat and non-meat eaters alike!
- Veganism is becoming increasingly mainstream: As veganism gains popularity, there’s a good chance that guests at your Christmas gathering will include at least one vegan or vegetarian. Making sure that they feel included and welcomed can help to foster a more positive and inclusive environment for everyone.
- It’s easier than ever to find plant-based options: With so many delicious vegan recipes and products available, it’s easier than ever to accommodate vegans at Christmas. Simply incorporating a few vegan-friendly dishes into your holiday meal can go a long way in making your guests feel valued and appreciated. Don’t forget that supermarkets offer an excellent range of choice in vegan dishes.
- It’s a chance to try something new: Experimenting with vegan recipes and ingredients can be a fun and creative way to add variety and excitement to your festive meal. Who knows, you might even discover a new family favourite that you’ll want to make a tradition for years to come!
Oil-free festive vegan side dishes
Here, the team at Bosh! show us how to make six festive vegan side dishes without using oil.
The simple recipes covered include oil-free roast potatoes, parsnips, carrots, leeks, Brussels sprouts and squash.
While they don’t use oil in these dishes – there’s certainly no loss of taste!
Ultimate vegan haggis
This is a marvellous spin on a popular side dish, and we loved the ultimate vegan haggis from Alistair at the Pesky Vegan.
The dish normally consists of sheep liver, lungs and heart, along with spices and oatmeal.
And here, Alistair has switched the meat for pinhead oats, nutmeg and pepper, along with sunflower seeds and lentils.
The secret to the dish is definitely in using pinhead or ‘steel-cut’ oats.
- 20 g plant-based butter or margarine
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 portobello/flat cap mushrooms, diced finely
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- 250 g pinhead oats
- 30 g sunflower seeds, chopped
- 1 level teaspoon white pepper
- 1½ tablespoons Marmite/yeast extract (if GF)
- 1 level teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1x 400g tin of drained black beluga lentils
- 400ml veg stock (plus more water if needed)
The instructions are, once again, straight forward on Alistair’s site.
And the end result is a vegan side dish to delight.
How would someone go about becoming vegan?
If you are interested in becoming vegan – especially after reading about these tasty dishes – then becoming a vegan involves more than just eliminating animal products from your diet. Here are some steps to get started:
- Educate yourself: Learn as much as you can about veganism, including the reasons why people choose this lifestyle, the potential health benefits, and the various ways that animal products are used in food, clothing, cosmetics, and other everyday products.
- Start slowly: If going vegan all at once seems overwhelming, consider gradually transitioning by cutting out animal products one at a time, such as meat, then dairy and then eggs. You can also start by reducing your consumption of animal products, rather than eliminating them completely.
- One meal a week: Another great way to explore veganism is to trial one vegan meal a week – you will learn about the foods you can and can’t eat, and what the potential health benefits are.
- Find vegan resources: Look for online resources, such as vegan blogs, websites and social media groups that can provide inspiration, tips, and support in your transition to veganism. Talk to other vegans and seek their advice and guidance.
- Plan your meals: Plan your meals carefully to ensure that you are getting all of the nutrients you need. Experiment with vegan recipes, try new foods, and find healthy substitutes for your favourite animal-based dishes.
- Consider supplements: Since certain vitamins and minerals may be more difficult to obtain from a vegan diet, you may want to consider taking supplements, such as vitamin B12, iron, and omega-3s.
- Check labels: Be sure to carefully read food labels to avoid hidden animal products in packaged foods. Some common ingredients to watch out for include milk, eggs, honey, gelatine, and animal-based fats.
- Be patient and kind to yourself: Remember that transitioning to a vegan lifestyle takes time and effort, and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way. Be patient and enjoy the process of discovering new foods and flavours.
This last point is very important, and you will undoubtedly enjoy the journey in finding new foods and tastes to enjoy.
If you would like to know more about entertaining vegan family and guests at Christmas, check out the Christmas.co.uk guide!