The best part of Christmas is undoubtedly the food. Don’t get us wrong, spending time with friends and family is wonderful but nothing quite beats the smorgasbord of food at this time of year. From baked ham, roasted turkey and the endless seafood options, there’s no doubt that the festive season is a meat-heavy period.
As we become more knowledgable about the impact meat production has on the environment and our health, more Australians are actively working to reduce how much meat they consume. In fact, research from PLAY Market Research shows that 37% of Australians are doing just that, while 10% are already dedicated vegan or vegetarians.
According to the data, Australians are moving away from the traditional “meat and three veg” diet to a more plant-based way of eating and the driving reason is the environment, with 48% regularly choosing meat-free options as they are friendlier to our planet. So, with the festive period looming, this is how you can navigate Chrissy lunch without making it a meat-fest.
— Make the side dishes shine
The easiest way to reduce the meat you consume this festive season is by upping the amount of veggie and grain side dishes available. You might still want to include some seafood or a little meat here and there in your Christmas lunch or dinner, but if you crowd out your plate with delicious side dishes, the less meat you’ll consume.
Consider adding in something a little fancy like Jamie Oliver’s Silician Roasted Cauliflower & Brussel Sprouts or a big plate of roasted root veggies. You also can’t go wrong with various salads, which are always great for the summer weather in Australia. The Wholesome Grain Salad by The Home Cook’s Kitchen is filled with quinoa, black rice, pomegranate seeds and feta, making it a delicious and substantial side dish.
— Create a meat-free main course
While your family might still want to nosh on prawns, fish or turkey on Christmas day, consider creating a meat-free main course that everyone can try and you can enjoy on the day. One of the best parts of Christmas food is the variety presented on the day, so adding a vegetarian or vegan option will be appreciated by your family and friends.
If you’re not sure what meat-free mains to make, you could try creating Jamie Oliver’s Nut Roast, which is packed with nuts, fruit, spices and loads of veg. Taking a traditionally meat-filled dish and making it vego is also a great option and Alexa Weibel’s Vegetarian Mushroom Wellington for NYT Cooking is a winner. For something a little more straightforward, Nigella Lawson’s Roast Stuffed Pumpkin is filled with rice and creates a hearty vego main dish that everyone is sure to love.
— Bring your own food
As with those who have food allergies know, it can often be easier to BYO food to festive gatherings as it takes the pressure off the party host having to provide food that works for you. Create a vegan-friendly crudité platter with macadamia cheese à la Minimalist Baker to snack on or whip up a Butternut Squash Hummus to enjoy with crackers and veggie sticks.
When attending barbeques, you also can’t go wrong with kebab sticks skewered with halloumi cheese and veggies, as Jamie Oliver has created, to grill on the barbie as well as large portobello mushrooms, which can be grilled and sandwiched in a roll with salad and sauce to create a vego burger. Perfect summer food!
Whether you’re avoiding meat completely or just hoping to reduce the amount you eat, there are ways to achieve this while still enjoying delicious and festive food this Christmas.