Have a very vegan Christmas: How to cater to the non-meat eaters this year

As predicted by The Economist last year, it's safe to say 2019 has been the year of the vegan. 

The upswing in plant-based diets has hit headlines harder than ever over the last 12 months, with controversial documentary The Game Changers on Netflix inspiring many to give veganism their first shot. 

British brand Greggs launched a vegan sausage roll that went viral on social media for weeks. Both Dominos and Hell launched vegan pizzas - one in a slightly eye-opening promotion. 

What does all of this mean? Well, with one in 10 Kiwis now eating meat "rarely" or "not at all", you're probably going to have at least one person off the ham and meringues at this year's Christmas. 

NZ Vegetarian Society spokesperson Philip McKibbin told Magic Talk he hopes we'll have a little compassion for our non-meat eating mates. 

"Christmas can be a challenging time for vegans and vegetarians; a time when they're confronted with a lot of meat and sometimes some unwanted comments," he explained. 

"Where meat-eaters might see food... a vegan might see a dead animal, who had interests, who suffered, who was killed. They also might be thinking about the environmental impact. And that can be quite difficult, because it can bring back some intrusive thoughts." 

So if you're hosting this year and you're stressing about what to serve and gift your son's vegan girlfriend, please don't! It's easy to include a little plant-based joy as part of your Christmas. Here are some tips on what to buy and what to cook.

To cook: 

There are several delightful options that can be made for a plant-based dinner at this year's Chrissy lunch. Don't be tempted to reach for the frost-covered 'Tofurky' box at the back of the supermarket freezer - it's 2019. There are much better options. Instead, whip up some beautiful stuffed portobello mushrooms, using festive flavours like walnut, sage and cranberry, like this recipe from Blissful Basil.

If you're doing a classic Kiwi Christmas, throw some vegan sausages and patties on the grill. Just be sure to check with the diner they don't mind if their food is cooked near meat - some are cool with it, others aren't keen. You can always quickly clean off the grill and pop them on while your meat is resting.

Wow everyone, even omnivores, with this amazing pavlova made from aquafaba - the liquid in a tin of chickpeas. That's right - you'll finally get to use that tin of chickpeas languishing at the back of the pantry! I made this recipe into meringues for my vegan sister a couple of years ago and it was a bloody hit. 

If you need a little more inspiration, The Vegan Society Christmas page is packed with recipes and BBQ tips to keep everyone happy over the festive season. 


To gift: 

Make sure any gifts are certified vegan and cruelty-free - do your research, as labels can be sneaky. 

A subscription to the new plant-based My Food Bag option is a great idea, especially if you have a whole plant-based family to buy for. It's perfect for those who follow a vegan diet or just want to eat more plants. And it's great if your vegan loved one wants to get friends, family or flatmates more involved with a bit more pizzaz on their plate. Side note: These bags often have great recipe ideas if you're heading away with some plant-based eaters over the holidays. Sweet Corn Cakes with Roasted Asparagus & Chermoula Aioli anyone?

Another great idea is a cosy, eco-friendly vegan duvet. While most duvets are made from duck or goose down, this one is made from tencel lyocell, a natural material derived from sustainable wood sources that’s soft, breathable, and regulates temperature naturally.