If you’re having a veggie guest over for dinner
Have a chat in advance to find out if they’re vegetarian or vegan. Like anybody else they may also have food allergies or things they just don’t like, so remember to check!
Read the labels - there are a few things to look out for if you’re not used to shopping for veggies. Supermarkets and food companies are now very good at labelling foods that are vegetarian, but look out for the Vegetarian Society Approved symbol for added confidence.
Make plenty. Food that is suitable for vegetarians isn’t just for vegetarians and the meat-eaters will definitely want a taste when they see the delicious food you’ve prepared for your guest.
Keep the roast potatoes, veg and gravy separate from the meat and juices and don’t cook them in goose fat so everyone can share them. Cook the potatoes in a vegetable oil and look out for veggie-friendly instant gravy and stuffing, which are readily available.
Buy a ready-made option such as nut roast or a meat substitute ‘roast’ or ‘fillet’ if you don’t want to prepare a separate dish for your veggie guest.
Watch out for non-veggie beer and wine as some are fined or clarified with animal products. As the animal products are not an ingredient they don’t need to be labelled. Look out for the Vegetarian Society Approved symbol, as the Vegetarian Society approves a range of beers and wines. Some supermarkets say if their own-brand alcohol is suitable for veggies on the label, or you could visit a specialist wine shop for a recommendation. The good news is that Champagne is always vegetarian.
General food tips for Christmas
If you’re having olives as a nibble with drinks, check they’re not the variety stuffed with anchovies as veggies don’t eat fish.
Be aware that some fizzy orange flavoured drinks and cordials use gelatine as a carrier for added Beta Carotene. This won’t appear on the ingredients panel so look for the VegSoc approved logo or ask the manufacturer.
If you’re buying delicious dips go for hummus and avoid taramasalata as it has fish roe in it.
If you’re making a trifle use vegetarian or vegan jelly crystals and avoid some brands of cocktail cherries that contain cochineal E120, which is made from crushed insects.
Check the cheese you’re buying is suitable for vegetarians as a few cheeses still use non-vegetarian rennet.
Most crisp flavours are suitable for vegetarians but it’s always worth checking the packet when you’re buying them.
If you’re going to someone's house for Christmas
Communicate. Not everyone knows what a vegetarian is or what to cook for them, so speak to your host in advance.
People may make silly jokes about being veggie that annoy you, so spoil their impact by having a laugh and poking a bit of fun at yourself. Remember – they’re the ones eating the same boring and predictable food as last year.
Thank your host if they have put in the effort and made you a lovely dinner. This might be the first veggie Christmas dinner they’ve cooked and your kind words may encourage them to cook more veggie meals in the future.
Show off your veggie status by asking if you can contribute to the day with an amazing veggie dish you’ve made. Everyone will appreciate your efforts and also hopefully realise that being vegetarian isn’t a bad thing at all.