I’ve read a lot about nightmare Christmases, where vegans dine on a lettuce leaf or bread roll, while their friends and family hack at an animal carcass and try to persuade them that they need to eat meat.
Those stories made me a little bit worried about what was in store for me this year. Perhaps attitudes are changing, because I’ve had 3 Christmas dinners, and so far, I’ve eaten VERY well, no carcasses have been thrust in my face, and I haven’t even had to face any debates on the pros and cons of a vegan diet!
Work Christmas party
The end-of-year celebrations kicked off early for me, with a work party down at The Boatbuilders Yard at South Wharf in late November. Staff from all over the country flew in for a casual, barbecue/picnic-style lunch, by the water, on an unusually hot day.
As usual, my lovely friends in the social committee negotiated a vegan lunch for me – and as usual, it looked much better than everyone else’s lunch! I have to admit that I had to chase it up, because the restaurant almost forgot about it, but it was worth the wait. It was a big, colourful vegan pide, filled with salad, hummous and felafels. I had to fight hard not to be smug because it looked so much nicer than the rest of the food.
Picnic with old friends
The 2nd celebration was a lazy picnic dinner in the park with a group of old friends we’ve known since our kids were at kindergarten together. The kids are all in late high school or university now, but all the parents still try to meet up at least once a year.
It was straight after work on a Friday night, so we jumped off the 86 tram and picked up vegan tacos from Gringo Vibes. They hit the spot very nicely, but the highlight of that dinner was one of my friends commenting, “You have to stop posting all those pictures on Facebook – you’re going to turn me vegan too! Already I can’t eat ham or pork anymore!” (Yay! I’m always worried my friends will un-friend me if I post those things too often.)
First family Christmas dinner of the year
The 3rd celebration was last Sunday. My sister-in-law and her family are about to take off for a month in Vietnam, so we had my husband’s family Christmas get-together early. It was relaxing not to have the usual frantic last minute rush of gift and food shopping, cleaning and cooking for 3 parties in a couple of days.
As planned, I made my stuffed bean loaf again. This time I sorted out the flavours and I was really happy with it.
I forgot that I had planned to make a stuffing layer this time, and I hollowed out instead.
As is common with Australian Christmases, we all added our contributions to a big buffet. The loaf looked very presentable, although the pastry had got a bit limp during transport, and the oven was too full for me to crisp it up, but it didn’t matter much. Most people tried at least some of it. One sister-in-law, who is vegetarian, commented that she really liked it because it had all the flavours of vegetarian food she loves!
Even though the loaf was good, it wasn’t the highlight for me. The highlight was that just about everyone had contributed a vegan dish! Of course, as they’d gone to all that trouble to cater for my diet, I just HAD to try it all, and by then end I felt so full I could barely move – the sign of a good Christmas dinner!
These were just some of the vegan dishes on the table:
- Spicy lentil dip
- Nuts, olives and crackers
- Stuffed bean loaf
- Rice paper rolls and peanut dipping sauce
- Roast vegetable pizza
- Quinoa salad
- Roast vegetable and spinach salad
- Broccoli and couscous salad
- Green salad
- Raw cacao balls, full of seeds and nuts
- Date and walnut fudge babies
- Cherries with cashew cream dip
- Iced gingerbread Christmas tree biscuits.
The Fudge Babies recipe came from Chocolate Covered Katie, and are one of my favourite treats. I had wanted to make them look like tiny Christmas puddings, but I couldn’t find anything to use for the holly on top, so I settled for some little stars from the baking aisle at the supermarket. That looked Christmassy enough.
The cherries were perfect, as they always seem to be at this time of year. The sweet cashew cream recipe came from The Simple Veganista. It’s flavoured with dates and vanilla, and reminded me of the sweet ricotta cream I used to make, and I ate WAY too much!
I don’t suppose I should have been worried at all. I was vegetarian for a long time, and never had much trouble getting good food, or having to deal with dead animals on the table. The only comments I got were genuine questions like, “I knew you were vegetarian. What made you go vegan?” or “What’s wrong with dairy foods?” and even (my favourite), “What can I use instead of eggs, so that next year I can make a vegan sticky date pudding?”
Will the vegos take over next year?
Next weekend is the Christmas party for my side of the family, but I don’t expect any problems there either. I don’t know if I’m just really lucky, or whether the times are a-changin’, but the number of vegos in our extended family is creeping up to the meat eaters. Perhaps we might even overtake them by next Christmas!
A little bit of Billy Mack
Now that Spotify is available FREE on mobile devices, I’ve been listening to a whole lot of Christmas music while I cook. Here’s my favourite Christmas song from my favourite Christmas movie.