Holidays and special occasions
Thanksgiving cookies, cakes, and pies are hard to resist — even the vegan versions, which can be as sugary as their non-vegan counterparts. What about those who can’t — or won’t — indulge in sugar-filled treats? If that applies to you or any of your guests, you can still indulge in these seasonal, flavorful, and beautiful treats. Gingered Winter Fruit Medley (at top) is simple and pretty combination of winter fruits — pears, apples, oranges, and pineapple, spiced with crystallized ginger — is a refreshing finish to any vegan Thanksgiving feast. more→
There’s something about stuffing that evokes comfort and nostalgia. While stuffing can be a nice change-of-pace from other starch-based side dishes for everyday meals, most of us don’t think of making it other than for holiday meals. Here are 6 savory and comforting vegan stuffings for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, but you need not wait for a holiday to enjoy. They’re great for everyday winter meals, too.
The stuffings here follow tradition by including bread as a basic ingredient. For those who eat gluten free, the good news is that there are several brands of gluten-free bread that can be used to make the bread cubes or bread crumbs in these recipes. In Cranberry Pear Wild Rice Stuffing, above, the wild rice adds a wonderful texture, and the slight sweetness of dried cranberries lends a delicious flavor. Serve on its own; or use to stuff winter squashes for a dazzling holiday main dish. more→
Anyone can take their mom out to eat for Mother’s Day — but if she’s vegan, why fight crowds and limited menu options? Your mom will be more impressed and grateful if you show your love by making a special brunch. These vegan Mother’s Day brunch recipes are healthy and tasty, and will please everyone at the table.
Let’s start with Jenné Claiborne’s Buckwheat Crepes with Chocolate Sauce, above. These whole grain crepes are delicious, filling, very pretty, and totally healthy! the chocolate sauce takes the crepes to the next level.
Making vegan main dishes for your Easter dinner menu that are festive as well as easy is completely do-able! Enjoy a compassionate holiday by choosing one or two from among these VegKitchen favorites. Above, this hearty Roasted Seitan, Peppers, and Portabellas is so easy to throw together, yet makes a festive main dish for this and other special occasions. more→
VegKitchen’s vegan Passover Seder recipes and menus (great for vegetarians too) focus on the fresh produce of early spring. Here’s a full menu for Ashkenazic (Eastern European)-style recipes, from matzo ball soup to dessert. If you want even more choices, go to our Vegan Passover Seder Recipes and Menus. That’s where you’ll find tips for putting together a plant-based Passover Plate, as well. First up, and central to the celebration, Spring Vegetable Soup with Vegan Matzo Balls. more→
Unbaked Fig Bars by Gena Hamshaw have all of the chewiness and sweetness of traditional fig cookies, but they’re made with wholesome almonds, oats, and real dried figs. Truly perfect for the holiday!
Is there anything more quintessentially spring than a picnic? As the weather is warming up and the days are longer, now is the perfect time to head outside with a basket packed with vegan treats! And to help you get inspired with ideas of what to bring, here’s a roundup of great vegan recipes to explore: more→
The holiday season, which defines that sometimes the period that includes Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s shindigs can be overwhelming for anyone, but for vegans, there are particular challenges. Here are VegKitchen’s tips for navigating both the culinary and emotional aspects of the holiday season, especially for the plant-based crowd, but for anyone who wants to celebrate healthfully and joyfully.
FOOD AND ENTERTAINING
Be a subtly persuasive guest: If you’re invited to a gathering where you suspect there will be limited food choices, volunteer to bring something really delicious (and preferably healthy to share. I’ve found that the best way to “spread the gospel” is by showing how tasty and satisfying vegan food can be. People are much more interested these days. Bring plenty of what you’re making, as I’ve found that everyone wants to try some of what we’re having.
Be a fabulous host: If you’re hosting a holiday gathering, it doesn’t have to be an 8-course meal that will leave you feeling exhausted and broke. If you want to host a gathering and want to do something simpler, think of a vegan appetizers and wine buffet (include something amazing, like the Smoky Vegan Cheddar Cheez, above), or a mid-day brunch. Both of these options can be lots of fun and infinitely simpler than a multi-course dinner. No matter what kind of event you’re hosting, also inquire about your guests’ food allergies in advance.
Think potluck: These days, when everyone is so crazy/busy, no one minds bringing one dish to share. Potlucks are fun and festive, and give everyone a chance to share favorite dishes. If it’s your house or apartment, you’re perfectly within your rights to set the rule of vegan dishes only. I’ve done that for years, and no one minds. It gives them a chance to stretch their skills and try new things. If someone is truly befuddled, ask them to bring a simple salad, bread, or wine.
Have fun veganizing old favorites. Emotionally fraught as holidays can be, at their best, they can be times of comfort and nostalgia. Aside from how wonderful it is for you to enjoy an old family favorite, showing others that egg nog can become “vegg nog,” that you can still have mashed potatoes and gravy, and that stuffing can be just as delicious if not stuffed into a bird, helps to spread the word that vegan holiday fare isn’t at all about sacrifice and deprivation. More proof: Even green bean casserole can be made in a vegan and healthy version (photo at top of post)— without canned mushroom soup!
Veggies and fruits center stage: Even if you love comfort foods, give seasonal produce the a bigger role in your holiday fare than starches and sweets. Use an abundance of hardy fall vegetables, including a variety of squashes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables, the cruciferous vegetables, and fresh greens. Use lots of seasonal fruits (apples, pears, oranges, cranberries — on their own and in desserts) to reduce temptation to overdo sugary sweets. But even desserts can be healthy — after all, the main ingredient of our Easy Vegan Pumpkin or Squash Pie (see photo below) is a vegetable!
VEGAN HOLIDAYS: SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
Stand firm. If you’re a new vegan, it’s easy to be apologetic or waver if you’re questioned about your choices. In all the years I’ve been vegetarian (which was weird enough 40 years ago) and then vegan for more than a decade now, no one has gotten under my skin, because I won’t let that happen. Show confidence in your choices, and people are less likely to try to mess with you.
Save the debates for another time. If someone provokes you, intentionally or not, and you must say something at the holiday table, don’t stoop to their level. Keep it simple and make it about yourself, not them. “Being vegan makes me feel great physically, and I have a huge amount of mental energy.” is something I repeat often.
If someone gets right in your face about your choices, or asks a point-blank question (“What’s wrong with dairy? After all, the cow doesn’t have to die,” is one I hear a lot), I say, “I’ll be glad to share what I know about animal agriculture, but this isn’t the time or place for graphic details. If you really want to know, I’ll be glad to discuss this with you privately, when we’re not eating.”
Don’t succumb to guilt. Especially if you’re a new vegan in a non-vegan-friendly family, you might get those sad-eyed or withering looks from your parents, aunts and uncles, or grandparents. “What? You’re not going to have some of the XYZ, after so-and-so worked so hard to prepare it?” Be firm, and neutral. “I don’t eat XYZ any more, but I’m sure it’s delicious, and there will be more for everyone else.” Repeat as needed. The first year will be hardest. By year three, they’ll likely get tired of laying on the guilt.
Practice gratitude. Remember how fortunate those of us are who can actually make all the food choices we prefer, right down to buying the organic version of something. So many people around the world and even in this country go hungry and lack basic food security. Remembering that we’re among the lucky ones really helps put a lot of other, more petty things into perspective.
Give back. Following the last tip, do whatever you can around the holidays within your means, to alleviate the suffering and/or difficulties of fellow humans and animals. Even if you don’t have a lot of spare cash, you can donate your time, or goods you no longer need to women’s shelters, food banks, animal shelters or farm sanctuaries, and the like. As vegans, we all understand that compassion stretches far beyond the kitchen.
What is your strategy for navigating vegan holidays? Let us know in the comments.!
When it comes to vegan Thanksgiving recipes and menus (which are also suitable for vegetarians, of course), VegKitchen is thankful that our Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner page has long been one of the premier resources on the web. There are lots of choices, from soups to desserts, but if you want to get right down to it, this page will narrow it down to our favorite vegan Thanksgiving recipes.
And of course, if you still prefer to cook from a book rather than a web site, please consider Vegan Holiday Kitchen, which offers recipes like these, and much more, for the Thanksgiving feast (and beyond — Hanukkah, Christmas, as well as the spring holidays and summer entertaining). more→
Summer is prime season for informal parties, where the operative word in food is sharing. And even if you’re the only vegan at the potluck, everyone will want to try your dishes and ask for your recipes, so bring plenty! The fare that appeals most during warm weather is fresh, seasonal, and tastes best at room temperature. Here’s a selection of such dishes that you’ll find here on VegKitchen.
For lots more ideas for special occasion fare, see Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas.
Grain and bean salads
- Barley Salad with Almonds and Apricots
- Black Bean and Corn Salad
- Wild Rice Salad with Corn and Black-Eyed Peas
- Piquant Rice Salad
- Dilled Millet and Vegetable Salad
- Pasta Salad with Parsley Pesto and Two Squashes
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Multicolored Pasta Salad for a Crowd
- Pasta Caponata
- Israeli Couscous Summer Pilaf (see photo at top)
- Cold Linguine with Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- Southwestern Pasta Salad with Avocado and Peppers
- Marinated Potato-Tofu Salad
- Luscious Potato and Leek Salad (photo below)
- Three-Potato Salad with Spring Greens
- Sweet and White Potato Salad with Mixed Greens
- Colorful and Creamy Potato Salad
Veg-Centric Cold Dishes
- Indonesian-Style Gado-Gado Salad
- Navy Bean and Green Bean Salad with Fresh Herbs
- Composed Quinoa Salad Platter
- Greek-Flavored Lentil Salad with Tofu “Feta”
- Raw Squash “Noodles” with Fresh Tomato Sauce
- Broccoli Salad with Yellow Peppers, Pine Nuts, and Cranberries
Cinco de Mayo has become a day to celebrate Mexican heritage and pride (contrary to popular belief, it isn’t Mexico’s independence day) —and a delicious way to celebrate is with easy vegan south-of-border and Southwestern-style dishes. VegKitchen has plenty of festive appetizers and main dishes to choose from! Shown above, Fully Loaded Vegan Nachos. more→
Not sure why, but vegan and vegetarian cookbooks rarely present many appetizer recipes to speak of, so hopefully you’ll find the wide array of choices here useful and appealing. A nice idea for entertaining (for the winter holidays or any casual occasion) is to offer a spread of hot and cold appetizers (instead of the usual sit-down dinner) with wine or cocktails, followed by a dessert buffet. If you need ideas for a vegan dessert buffet, we’ve got you covered there as well, of course, on the Vegan Dessert Recipes page. Shown above, Eggplant and Tomato Spread. more→