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How to Make Holiday Spreads Vegan
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How to Make Holiday Spreads Vegan

Although the holiday season is a time when one can unwind with family and friends, it often proves to be more difficult for the chef to relax. He or she has to cater to everyone’s preferences and specific dietary requests while maintaining the integrity of the food. They have to know that Carly doesn’t eat gluten and that cranberries give Sam the willies, and remember that Uncle Rob can scarf down an entire bowl of bread even before the main course has left the oven. The chef has to be prepared.

For vegan cooks the holidays bring about a more specific challenge – how to make savory versions of traditional holiday fare vegan. To vegan cooks, stuffing a dead bird’s anal cavity with nuts, herbs and bread is not the way to ring in holiday cheer. That’s why they do everything in their plant-based power to make edible magic, surpassing the expectations of those family members who asked, “but how can we be full without the bird?” or “why are we breaking from an American tradition?”

Fortunately this holiday season we can take a stand for animals everywhere by taking a seat at the vegan dinner table. We broke down how to create quintessential holiday dishes that are vegan, so guests and turkeys alike can gobble it up! While you’re sure to be stuffed from these holiday plates, you won’t be weighed down from the heavy heart of having just devoured an animal friend.

The Side Dish

Corn Bread

When you were a kid corn bread was such a cool concept because it was like eating dessert during dinnertime. Now cornbread remains a fun staple to the holiday spread, especially because you can easily make it vegan. If you already consider yourself a vegan Julia Childs and have a kitchen stocked with the essentials, corn bread should be a breeze. When you want to learn how to bring out the excited kid in each of your guests, be sure to check out this recipe. If you’re more of an “out of the box” kind of chef, (meaning you literally make recipes by opening a box and mixing in a few ingredients), there is nothing wrong with that either! Follow the recipe on the box, while substituting eggs with coconut oil or safflower oil and dairy milk with a nut milk of your choice.

Mashed Potatoes

There’s nothing like a plate of warm mashed potatoes to accompany your main course. Luckily, mashed potatoes are incredibly easy to make vegan. In fact, its vegan versions are so comparable that they’ll have Aunt Lisa falling off her chair when you divulge that they’re animal-free. Don’t worry-Aunt Lisa will be fine. She’s just partially shocked and also maybe a little bigger around the waist from thoroughly enjoying that vegan cornbread! The reason mashed potatoes are generally not considered vegan is that they are cooked in animal broth, have milk in them or are made with dairy butter. What’s the vegtastic solution? Substitute veggie broth, plant-based milk and vegan butter for those often non-vegan components and voila you’re fork-deep in fluffy vegan heaven. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can make all three of those ingredients from scratch to ensure that you’re going sans palm oil and hydrogenated fats this holiday season. Top these taters with some shallots and thyme to make a lasting impression on your dinner guests.

Green Bean Casserole

There are three major components of most green bean casseroles: green beans, milk and cream of mushroom soup. Some cans of cream of mushroom soups are vegan, so read labels to check for animal products. If you’re interested in making your own vegan version of the soup, check out our delicious recipe here. You can make this holiday side with less than 10 ingredients. Feel free to go nuts adding the fried onion garnish because you know that’s your little cousin’s favorite part!

Shepherd’s Pie

This may be the first type of pie on the list, but trust us when we say it won’t be the last. Pie has the ability to make almost anyone smile- even your grumpy great uncle. Shepherd’s pie is no exception. While it is traditionally made composed of meat, mushrooms are used here instead. Mushrooms have a meaty texture and a thick consistency, making them a perfect meat substitute. That is why we often see them placed between two buns as a beef burger replacement. While I understand that making a shepherd’s pie from scratch sounds daunting, there are plenty of perfect vegan pie recipes to knock Aunt Lisa back on her bottom. It’s that good!


Ah gravy — the amazing sauce that coats your naked potatoes. What would a holiday dinner be without gravy to drizzle over your holiday fixin’s? Gravy isn’t just made from meat juices collected at the bottom of a pan. In about 30 minutes you could cook up gravy that will have mouths watering from just its scent alone. If you’re a mushroom lover like I am, there are plenty of recipes for mushroom gravy.

The Main Course


Here’s where you can satisfy your gluten-free cousin and vegan guests alike. Stuffing is perhaps the most classic element of a holiday dinner. When it is not used in the aforementioned way of shoving it up a bird’s behind, it is an awesome way to accentuate the vast flavors of the main course. Some stuffings may consist of only vegetables and herbs, while others consist of eggs, meat and potatoes. Stuffing is hailed for its abundance of rich seasonings. Therefore, it’s important not to skimp out on flavor here, you guys. Lentils, sweet potatoes and vegetable broth can pump up the flavor along with vegan faux meat or tofu. You can also use rice if you are opting for a gluten-free stuffing. 

Seitan Pot Roast or Un-Turkey Roast

During the holidays people are often adamant on having some type of meat factor. We’re lucky enough to have evolved in a world where we can make meat substitutes that don’t taste like rubber. Enter seitan. Seitan is like tofu’s practical friend. It’s made from wheat-gluten instead of soy and it is often used instead of tofu for mock meat dishes because of its meat-like consistency. Making a roast out of seitan is easy and it can be decked out with potatoes and carrots to achieve that festive heartiness. Tofu can also be used to create an imitation turkey roast. If you are looking for a ready-made meatless meat that doesn’t go by the name Tofurky, Gardein offers a frozen holiday roast with wild rice stuffing and stuffed turk’y.


Apple Pie

Shephard’s pie won’t be the only type of pie to RSVP to this holiday party. We all know there’s always room for dessert, even after you’ve indulged in five helpings of vegan stuffing. Apple pie can satisfy any veg-head who has a sweet tooth. This classic recipe is easy to make in a plant-powered version. With this dessert, you have the freedom to make it vegan, gluten free and maple infused. What’s apple pie without ice cream? You can lift your tongue up from off the floor now.

Pumpkin Pie

Believe it or not, pumpkin pie is an aphrodisiac. If you’ve ever found yourself aroused around the holidays, this may explain it. You can choose to make a pumpkin pie with a more traditional-styled crust or get a little creative with a crust made from pecans, coconut and flaxseeds.

After navigating through this list of delicious vegan holiday recipes I hope you’re feeling inspired to get inventive with your cruelty-free spread! Remember that there are also several “accidentally vegan” holiday dishes such as roasted Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce and roasted veggies. Be sure to share your favorite vegan holiday dishes to encourage others to opt for a greentastic holiday!


Lead Image source:Stacey Spensley/Flickr

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  1. Ravenpair
    Who would have thought I could be vegan and still enjoy a shepherd's pie?! Awesome!
  2. Support
    Wow! We are loving this post! So comprehensive-- a hearty vegan holiday tribute! Thanks, for contributing to The Flaming Vegan. We're pinning this now to our "Happy {Vegan} Holidays Pinterest board. Cheers!


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