We seem to be sprinting into the holiday season (I mean how is it already November?!) which can be a challenging time, especially if you are new to following a plant-based diet.
I want to make this challenge easy for you! In my biased opinion there are so many yummy plant-based appetizers, sides, salads, and desserts that there really is no room to miss the turkey or ham.
With a few substitutions you can make delicious holiday meals that will impress even your hard core meat loving relatives.
I have gathered up some of my favorite plant based holiday recipes to help inspire you. So, get to experimenting and impress your family while enjoying some yummy food.
If you would like additional inspiration check out my Plant Based Holiday Recipes e-Cookbook below!
Holiday Survival Tips
First off, if this is your first holiday season as a vegetarian or vegan it might cause you some stress wondering how you are going to survive around the rest of your meat eating family.
The news about your new diet changes might also stress out your family who may wonder what on earth they can make for you!
When I first went vegan I flew out to visit my family for a quick extended weekend trip. Prior to arriving, I received multiple stressed out text messages: “can you eat this?”, “what about this?”, “what do you eat for breakfast now?” This was after me being a vegetarian for 28 years. I was like guys I am only going to be there for a couple of days, it’s not a big deal! But, they wanted to make sure I was taken care of.
I’m grateful that, besides some comments here and there, my family has always been accepting of my decision to eat plant-based. Not all families, however, are going to be as willing to accommodate your new eating preferences.
The best advice I have to give is to be prepared. If you are going to another family member’s house, if you have the opportunity, make and bring a few dishes to share that you know you can eat. This takes the pressure off of them and you can tell them, “don’t worry about it! I’ll bring a few things that I can eat, I will be fine.”
If you are hosting, you can wow them with your new plant based culinary skills while allowing them to bring their own dishes that they wish to eat as well. That way everyone is happy.
You may have to deal with comments and questions at first. You can just tell them you are choosing to eat this way for your health and that it is important to you without making too much fuss about it. That way they will not feel judged about how they choose to eat. It takes the pressure off.
Once people see how dedicated you are to eating this way they will start to become curious instead of judgmental and will eventually respect your new way of eating.
Plant Based Holiday Recipes
Now let’s get to the fun part because I know this is what you came for – some amazing plant-based holiday recipes!
Roasted Beet Hummus
Can you ever tire of hummus? I especially like the rich color and added flavor of this roasted beet hummus recipe. You can serve with homemade pita chips or veggies (jicama, radishes, bell pepper, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, etc.).
Here in Hawaii one of the traditional food staples is breadfruit or ‘ulu. Breadfruit is technically a fruit but it is more like a starchy vegetable, similar to potatoes. ‘Ulu Mana is a local company that makes yummy variations of hummus. One of my favorites is their “Bangin’ Beet” which is made from breadfruit and beets instead of chickpeas. So good!
Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Pinwheels
These are always a hit. I love both basil and sun-dried tomatoes, so this sun-dried tomato and basil pinwheel recipe is a win-win.
Use your favorite regular (if you’re vegetarian) or vegan cream cheese and you can also make this gluten free. I’ve made them for my family using Siete almond flour tortillas and they turned out great.
Vegan Walnut, Sage and Cranberry Stuffed Mushrooms
Stuffed mushrooms make a great appetizer and these savory walnut, sage and cranberry stuffed mushrooms do not disappoint.
I usually add some vegan pesto and sun-dried tomatoes instead of dried cranberries. Let me know what you think!
Vegan Charcuterie Board
Everyone can appreciate a good charcuterie board, even if they don’t know that is what they are formally called (I’m not referencing my husband at all. Ha!).
This is a chance to be creative. I like a combination of dips (hummus, pesto, Bitchin’ sauce), vegan cheeses, olives, candied pecans, almonds, pickled and fresh vegetables, fruit, dried fruit (especially Turkish apricots, mango, dates and sun-dried tomatoes), tapenade, fig preserves, sliced whole wheat sourdough, and vegan whole grain crackers. Yum!
A lot of vegan cheeses are made mostly from oil which is one of the reasons why I love to support a local company called The Vegan Cheese Shoppe.
Their vegan cheese products are made from locally sourced macadamia nuts, cashews, purified water, lemon juice and Hawaiian sea salt.
I also love their Macadamia Nut Grated “Parm.” They ship nationwide, so give them a try!
I personally don’t think you need a recipe to create a delicious salad with a holiday flare. This is another opportunity to be creative!
First, choose your leafy green base. My leafy green of choice is usually kale. Then you can add a fruit. I like the combo of chopped apples (Fuji, Honeycrisp), chopped dates, maybe some persimmons with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds on top for a holiday flare.
I also like to add something crunchy like candied pecans. Then top it off with a citrus dressing (2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 4 Tbsp fresh orange juice, 1 small garlic clove, 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and salt to taste). You can sprinkle vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast over the top and serve!
That’s just one of my favorite holiday salad options but you can create anything you want! Combine ingredients that you enjoy and use a favorite salad dressing that will compliment.
There are so many plant based sides to compliment your holiday meal. Below are a few options:
Orange Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry Pecan Sweet Potato Wild Rice Pilaf
In this recipe you can substitute vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth. I would also use a combination of dried apricots and dried cherries in addition to the dried cranberries. Look for unsweetened sulfur free when buying dried fruit.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Vegan Japanese Fried Rice (Chahan)
Different cultures enjoy different types of main dishes for the holidays. Not everyone eats turkey! I tend to gravitate towards the butternut squash risotto, but I’ve listed a variety of holiday main dish options for you.
Butternut Squash Risotto
Vegan Matzo Ball Soup
Stuffed Acorn Squash
Did you save room for dessert? I typically don’t eat dessert very often but I always leave room for dessert around the holidays. Here are some plant-based dessert ideas for you:
Vegan Pumpkin Pie
Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Pudding Pretzel Pie
Ginger Snap Cookies
Snowball Cookies (Pfeffernüsse)
Plant Based Holiday Recipes & e-Cookbook
By now you should feel more confident going into the holiday season and sticking with a plant-based diet. There are so many delicious recipes out there to try!
If you only feel like making a couple of sides and picking up a prepared vegan roast (Field Roast Hazelnut and Cranberry Roast, 365 Whole Foods Market Meatless Plant-Based Roast, Gardein Holiday Roast with Cranberry & Wild Rice Stuffing) you can do that too!
Being prepared and open to trying new things will set you up for success for not only surviving this holiday season but truly enjoying it.
If you’re looking for more inspiration I have developed a Plant-Based Holiday Recipes e-Cookbook filled with 65 recipes from holiday breakfasts to desserts. Click HERE for more details!
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Maria Tointon, RDN, LDN is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist with over 20 years of experience and a passion for helping others achieve their health goals through plant based nutrition.
1 thought on “Plant Based Holiday Recipes”
What an excellent article packed full of information/options. I was building my holiday shopping list earlier and it was full of unhealthy options. Armed with your recommendations I will feel a lot better about overindulging in my healthy options. Happy Holidays!!!!