The holidays are a time to gather, share and soak in each other’s company, often over food and drink. Given the range of food allergies and dietary restrictions, along with a greater interest in vegan cooking, you’re likely to have a plant-based guest sitting at your dinner table this year.
Vegan holiday dishes used to consist of heavily processed foods or peculiar tofu creations, but today, they can stand proudly on their own. With a few store-bought helpers, a feast to feed any number of guests is doable this season, even on a weeknight.
If you’re new to vegan dining, this is a great place to start. Here are 11 tips on how to host a filling vegan dinner party for all, regardless of dietary preference — and still enjoy your own party.
Ask in advance about food allergies
There are several reasons why people choose to enjoy vegan cuisine, and allergies may be one of them. Be sure to ask about gluten, soy and nut allergies in advance so no one is left hungry.
Understand vegan eating
Vegans don’t eat any animal products, some also staying away from honey. This means that not only meat, poultry and fish are off the table, but eggs and dairy, too. Keep this in mind when planning your menu, and aim to cook recipes that are naturally vegan or can be easily made vegan (i.e. taking the cheese off the top). Those more experienced with vegan cooking may be able to adapt recipes with animal products, but first-timers should try to keep it simple.
Make veggies the stars
Vegetables are having a moment in both the home cooking and restaurant world, proving they can do more for us than stand on the side. Show-stopping vegetable dishes include stuffed squash, whole roasted and stuffed pumpkins, root vegetable pastas, cauliflower steaks or savoury pies like this seasonal Vegan Sweet Potato and Kale Galette with Pistachio Parmesan.
Make a substantial salad
For a side dish, adding healthy fat and fibre in the form of avocado, sweet potato and chopped seeds into a salad creating a more satisfying side dish. Brighten it up with holiday favourites like pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries.
Hummus is the new cheese plate
Hummus and plant-based dip appetizers served with pita, naan or veggies are the vegan alternative to cheese plates (though you can get really fun — albeit, expensive — vegan cheeses now!). This will keep you and your guests from becoming overly ravenous before dinner. For a unique variation, try this Bright and Beautiful Black Bean Beet Hummus.
Think outside the holidays
Don’t feel chained to the idea of traditional “holiday” food when it comes to your dinner party. Have fun with a theme or choose a cuisine that’s naturally more vegan-friendly, like Mexican, Indian or Moroccan. These vegan Cauliflower Tacos with Mango Salsa and Avocado Crema will warm up even the chilliest of winter nights.
Keep guests full with plant-based protein
It’s easy to be excited about the vegetables, but protein will make sure everyone at the table leaves satisfied. Vegan proteins include beans and legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Vegan cuisine, based around an abundance of beans and legumes, lends itself well to hearty stews. A big pot of vegetable chili, chickpea tagine or mushroom braise creates a comfortable, family-style atmosphere at the table in a way that plated dishes have a hard time doing.
Consider wine and beer
Some wines and beers are not vegan, so be sure to do a little research before you head out to pick them up. While some diners aren’t as strict about their wine and beer consumption, some guests may be.
Befriend store-bought helpers
You absolutely don’t have to make everything from scratch, vegan holiday dinner or otherwise. Utilize store-bought vegan helpers like coconut milk ice cream, almond milk and vegan cheese, so you can focus on the most important thing: family, friends and, of course, your party!
Fruit desserts are always in-season
Baked or poached fruit, like apples or pears, served with the aforementioned coconut milk ice cream, makes for a winner of a plant-based dessert. Your home will be filled with the cozy aromas of the holidays, and your guests will feel totally taken care of. For those who love to experiment in the kitchen, a vegan cake, like this Vegan Apple Spice Cake, is the grand finale your holiday dinner needs.
If you’re starting to plan your fully vegan holiday dinner, look no further than these crowd-pleasing, delicious recipes: