For many people, meals for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas focus around a large meat centerpiece. Be it turkey, roast, or ham, these dishes make meat the focus of the meal and often result in an abundance of leftovers.
There are many reasons to want to avoid this. There may be several vegetarians or vegans in your family. Family members might have health concerns that lead them to avoid eating meat. Or maybe it’s Christmas and, after all those post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches, you’re just plain sick of meat. Whatever the case, you can still have a traditional and delicious holiday meal without any animal products.
The Field Roast company is the answer for people who like meat, miss meat, or think Tofurky is weird. Far from being “tofu turkey,” Field Roast’s Celebration Roast and other products like Classic Meatloaf are made from the gluten part of wheat, also known as vital wheat gluten, which creates a hearty, meaty texture when properly seasoned and cooked. The Celebration Roast comes already stuffed with a delicious combination of butternut squash, apples, and mushrooms, creating a savory meat-like main dish without the meat. Available in 1- and 2-pound roasts, these are perfect for when you want to serve all the traditional side dishes of a meat-centric meal but prefer to keep the table free of animal products.
When you want a meaty flavor without the meat, seitan is the way to go. Like Field Roast, seitan is made from vital wheat gluten and is sometimes called “wheat meat” or simply “gluten.” There are many recipes for homemade seitan available in a variety of cookbooks, but for a truly elegant meat-free centerpiece, look no further than Seitan Roulade With Oyster Mushroom Stuffing from the 2010 VegNews Holiday Cookbook. Crafted by seasoned vegan chef Robin Robertson, this recipe includes an easy seitan method that you can make even if you’ve never worked with vital wheat gluten before. The stuffing incorporates meatless sausage and fresh herbs for a traditional flavor, making the end result a beautiful rolled “roast” that even the most staunch of omnivores can appreciate.
Pot pie or shepherd’s pie without meat or dairy? You bet! There’s nothing like a big, warm dinner pie on a chilly day, winter holidays included. Shepherd’s pie is easy to re-create with textured vegetable protein granules, lentils, or even beans in place of the ground beef. Or you can just fill it up with delicious vegetables and top with the traditional mashed potatoes! Pot pie requires a bit more work since there’s crust involved, but a little extra time is worth it for a meat-free version of this hearty comfort food. You may also be able to find a suitable per-prepared crust or puff pastry at your local grocery store. And since both pot pie and shepherd’s pie are filled with an abundance of delicious ingredients, you don’t need to worry too much about side dishes.
Who needs a big roaster bird when you can have lasagna? Lasagna is versatile and easy to transport, making it a great choice when serving a crowd. Instead of layering with meat and dairy cheese, you can make this delicious baked pasta with a variety of sauteed veggies, non-dairy ricotta, and dairy-free cheese alternatives. The Daiya company makes a delicious allergen-free mozzarella “cheese” that melts and stretches like dairy cheese, but is free of dairy, wheat, and soy. Ricotta substitutes can be made at home using tofu or even raw cashews. With all of these possibilities available, there’s no need to include meat in the layers or the sauce. Serving up a hearty veggie lasagna along with a green salad can make a delightful and filling holiday meal.
Whether you’re serving vegetarians or just want a break from meat, it’s possible to have a lovely, meat-free holiday meal that satisfies all of your guests. Meat alternatives, meatless updates of traditional foods, and substitutes for traditional animal products can help create familiar dishes without sacrificing flavor. Trying these and other meatless meals might even start a new holiday tradition in your family.