When many people think of Christmas lunch or dinner, they probably focus on the meat. Turkey, ham or even chicken are traditional centrepieces of the table, with other meats and seafood featuring in starters or sides. Not to mention buttery desserts that are usually made from other animal products.
Plants often take a back-seat during this seasonal feast. With that in mind, you probably assume that Christmas is the worst time to start trialing that plant-based diet you have heard so much about. But vegan recipes are more than salads and smoothie bowls.
For some of us, one of the biggest barriers to committing to a plant-based lifestyle is the idea that it could disrupt our social lives. But when you get creative, you’ll find vegan recipes are just as satisfying as omnivore meals, for everyone at the table.
In the spirit of sharing and kindness, I’ve put together a full menu of vegan Christmas recipes from Centr to help make your day even more special. You might be surprised that chocolate treats and creamy holiday dishes turn up in a muscle building or weight loss meal plan, but for me and my fellow Centr chefs, it’s all about enjoying delicious, satisfying food – including plant-based food – in a healthy way.
Christmas tacos are the next big thing. If you use smaller tortillas, these make great appetizers or finger food before the main meal. You can even set out the different fillings and garnishes in bowls for DIY tacos your guests will love, with a few different options, such as guacamole, vegan cheese and even fresh chili.
You may be used to looking for extra-processed ‘fake meat’ to make up the ‘bulk’ of your meat-free meal, such as those products made from wheat gluten. They might be high in protein, but they also tend to be high in salt, and they’re not very natural. But you don’t have to choose processed food when here are delicious (and simple) whole-foods alternatives.
This cauliflower is a great plant-based centrepiece, not to mention it’s one of those vegan dishes that even meat eaters enjoy. You can use red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar in the dressing instead of lemon juice if you’d prefer, and change the spices to match the rest of your menu if Moroccan doesn’t suit.
One of the biggest complaints (and misconceptions) about plant-based meals is the idea that nothing tastes ‘meaty,’ and therefore the food cannot possibly be as rich or satisfying as traditional meat dishes. Mushroom recipes are great for giving umami a place at the meat-free table. They are especially rich in flavor when roasted this way.
While there are many sources of vegan protein, the tofu in this recipe provides a complete protein (i.e. containing all essential amino acids), and you can use any vegan cheese if you can’t find vegan feta specifically. All together, you have a dish that will have your guests forgetting all about their usual meats and gravy.
It’s one of those vegan meals that wouldn’t look out of place on your regular Christmas dinner table. Foregoing the usual bacon or butter helps to reduce the overall saturated fat intake, while cranberries and black rice add some great, filling fiber. I find the lemon juice and mint seasonings help lift the dish, making it a perfect side whether you’re having a winter or summer Christmas.
Sure, it looks buttery and creamy, but this Sergio Perera recipe is actually a delicious vegan side dish. The creaminess comes from coconut yogurt. Sweet leeks and sharp apple cider vinegar come together to make this an impressive side dish for any Christmas dinner. If you want this to be more of a filling main, you can crumble through some tofu.
Don’t let the name fool you here: this recipe works just as well with vegan butter. This is another Sergio specialty, and these kinds of chef-level vegetable dishes are wonderful ways to win over your holiday guests. Sweetness and spices bring together the tastes of Christmas – whether or not you stick with the plant-based diet, this is sure to become a holiday classic.
Bananas are more than a great pre-workout meal – they also make a delicious plant-based sweet treat. This is such a simple dessert and one that your guests will really love. A date caramel gives the ‘toffee’ flavor, layered with coconut yogurt, banana and an almond-coconut crumb.
Tip: For an even faster banana dessert, blitz them from frozen in a food processor with some natural vanilla extract to make ‘ice cream.’
Vegan desserts can still evoke the traditional flavors of the season. Just look at these Christmas Florentines. Toasted nuts, dried berries and dark chocolate give a healthy twist on a classic treat. If you don’t have goji berries, you can use dried cranberries, blueberries or any other fruit you like.
They’re perfect to finish up a meal with coffee and also make great gifts for the plant-based chocolate-lover in your life.
To stay on Santa’s extra nice list, offer him this dairy milk alternative with the cookies this year. If you don’t know how to make hemp milk, it is actually very easy. My hemp milk recipe has the added boost of peanut protein, but you can sub out for any other nut butters.
You’ll find homemade hemp milk is so much better than store-bought. Best of all, you don’t even need a special nut milk bag for the process, just a blender.
When the holiday season is done and you’re ready to get back into health and fitness, Centr can provide your regular meal planning as well. The Centr program has high protein plant-based recipes suitable for vegan diets, whether you want to build muscle, lose weight, or just find your fittest self.
Simon Hill is making plant-based nutrition simple and accessible through his Plant Proof podcast and with delicious recipes on Centr. A sports physiotherapist and nutritionist, he holds a Bachelor of Physiotherapy and a postgraduate degree in nutrition. He is the author of The Proof is in the Plants and the creator of our favorite vegan burgers.
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