Have you noticed that between Halloween and New Years, there are about fifty different holidays and seemingly a reason to eat at all of them? Good news, foodie friend: the holiday season is quickly approaching. In light of a slew of food-centric parties, gatherings and celebrations, it can be a little daunting to consider how you’re going to finagle your way through, especially when many traditional holiday foods are not super friendly to a plant-based diet. If you’ve transitioned to being vegan – and everyone you know didn’t happen to also follow suit – holiday time can feel a little different than it did as an omnivore. Finding the plant-based dishes in a smorgasbord of meat and cheese can present some challenges, but it doesn’t mean your holiday celebrations have to be bland. In addition to whatever you bring to contribute to the festivities – something I can’t recommend strongly enough if your eating doesn’t align with those you’ll be spending time with – here’s what to look for so you can navigate the holiday buffet like a pro:

The Appetizers

Take a peek for nuts, olives and pickles: great crunchy additions to a plate that can add volume, texture and satisfying fats without needing to add an animal component to your plate.

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Grain Salads

Did someone say couscous? How about wild rice with cranberries? Maybe even a little quinoa? You never know what might turn up from a creative relative (or your own kitchen!). Don’t underestimate the filling potential of a hearty wintertime grain salad: you could even use this as the ‘main dish’ on your plate if you’d like.

Cooked Vegetables

Roasted veggies like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, turnips or sweet potatoes might make an appearance at your family’s gatherings. Inquire if they’ve been made with oil or butter (hopefully the former!), and then go to town. Steamed or sautéed veggies are also a great option.

Stuffing Cooked Outside the Bird

Crunchy stuffing cooked in a pie plate, served without gravy: a former omnivore’s Thanksgiving dream come true. Double check what kind of broth the ingredients may have been cooked in, then pair with some cranberry sauce for a throwback to holidays pre-plant-based.

Breads and Pastas

The baked mac and cheese might be out, but simply served breads and pastas can be lifesavers (if your body can handle starchy carbohydrates). Look for the option pasta dish that covered with just tomato sauce, or the bread served sans butter, and cobble together veggies or spreads like hummus or babaganoush to accompany them.

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Dessert

Check out the options like Soft, Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies or Buckeyes that might be traditionally dairy-free (yay!), and look for desserts containing baked spiced fruit: if removing the pie filling from a butter-filled crust works for you, go for it! Consider, too, that the applesauce served with some meats or even the sweet potatoes leftover from dinner might make a great dessert with some cinnamon sprinkled on top.

Eating a vegan diet and enjoying the buffet is completely possible. Get creative and see what delicious ideas you can come up with!

Image Source: L/Flickr

 

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