Every year, my wife and I go to both our parent’s for the holidays. Thanksgiving especially is difficult. Neither of us eats meat. This last year we’ve decided to stop eating fish. Our particular diet makes eating, in general, difficult around the holidays.
The holidays are very food-centric. Thanksgiving is based around turkey and other turkey based foods. Christmas, at least in our families’ households, is identified with ham. Some people, our own families included, are not comfortable with meat substitutes for one reason or another. But, there are still other ways to eat a meal around the holidays and make everyone happy, no matter their beliefs or diet.
The past few years, my wife’s mother has prepared some sort of seafood dish to act as an entree. We both appreciated this very much, since sometimes it seems that we’re eating side dishes while everyone else gets a main dish. So, that’s a great substitute if you’re diet doesn’t include meat but allows for seafood.
If this is your first endeavor into vegetarianism consider trying out some of the meat substitutes. At our local grocery (Trader Joe’s) we found a ToFurky roast with stuffing and gravy. All of it is vegan friendly. We’re actually considering bringing that with us to her parent’s this year. We’ll see how that goes.
My father makes an effort to not put turkey parts into the stuffing. He was a little hard to convince at first. The first couple of years if we didn’t bring something we could eat we’d get stuck eating green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and rolls. See, the stuffing is his favorite part of the meal. He goes all out. But, we found this recipe from Paula Deen that we tweaked to be more accommodating to our diet. Instead of chicken stock we use a vegetable stock. As for the eggs, we’re ok with getting cage free eggs. To give it a little more flavor and bit more substance we added a bag of Boca breakfast sausage crumbles.
Numerous holiday recipes include using some sort of meat stock or parts of the animal. My wife and I will bring our own side dishes to supplement the holiday fare provided for us. We’ll make enough for everyone and try to make things that aren’t necessarily made using meat substitutes so the group can enjoy it as well. This isn’t to say that people don’t like the meat substitute; I think they’re just put off by its presence.
One of our favorite dishes to make is a lasagna roll-up. Prepare everything like you normally would for lasagna: noodles (but more, you won’t be layering. I like to make enough so that everyone can have 2), sauce, ricotta, etc. Cook the noodles as usual, but let them cool, you’ll be handling them. Lay out your noodle, spread down some ricotta, and I like to add some spinach that I’ve sauteed and a little cheese. Put these rolls down in a pan. Pour the sauce over, top with more cheese. Now, you can bake it before you go, I bake at 350 for about half an hour, or you can bake at your destination if such things are appropriate.
Hopefully, with these tips if this is your first holiday season as a vegetarian or maybe you were just having a hard time filling your plate at the holidays as a vegetarian you’ll be able to enjoy the meals like everyone else at the table: you won’t leave the table hungry. As well, this article is also for those people who might have someone in the family that is a vegetarian. They’re not just trying to make your life difficult (as my father may or may not have said); they’ve made a choice based on one belief or another. Maybe these tips will give you an idea of what to put on the table for them this year. Happy holidays!