When you’ve been hosting Christmas dinner for years it’s pretty much a no-brainer. You know the must have treats (chocolate chip cookies and hot cocoa) and the non-negotiable side dishes (homemade mac and cheese and baked beans). Your brother-in-law makes a ham and everyone is happy.

Until your niece decides she’s vegetarian.

As you review the plan you realize from the chicken stock in the stuffing to the ham in the baked beans, you’ve got a lot of animal on your menu. The mac and cheese might do…unless she’s vegan! You feel like you have no idea how to create a vegetarian friendly holiday party!

Do not panic. You can create a vegetarian holiday meal that will please everyone and keep the traditions intact. You might need to make one little extra trip to the grocery story but you usually forget something anyway so what’s a couple of more things on the list.

To make a new vegetarian feel welcome at your holiday table here are three things you must remember.

  1. They will want more than salad. Vegetarians eat more than vegetables and like you they will be hungry again in 30 minutes if all they eat is lettuce and carrots.
  2. Don’t try to sneak things in thinking they won’t notice. It’s disrespectful and they will notice.
  3. Ask them what they want or need. Trust me, they will appreciate the effort. They may also offer to bring a vegetarian dish that everyone can enjoy.

Let’s break this down meal by meal. Here’s your cheat sheet for hosting a vegetarian friendly holiday party.

Breakfast without the bacon

Of course, others can enjoy bacon, but you’re going to have to leave it out of the breakfast casserole. You need to check in with your vegetarian about eggs and dairy. Some will do dairy but no eggs and some will do eggs but no dairy. Others may be vegan, meaning they do NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS at all. For a vegan guest, a baked or stuffed oatmeal or granola, berries and non-dairy milk would make a great option.

A vegetarian friendly holiday lunch

No matter who you are hosting for the holidays, try to keep lunch simple. Soup and chili are always a favorite on a cold December day. They are also very easy to make vegetarian. Check out a whole list of vegetarian soup and chili recipes by clicking here. Make one of these plus one option with meat and see which one runs out first. You might be surprised!

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili
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Photo Courtesy of Vega

A sweet potato bar is also easy for a crowd. Bake enough sweet potatoes so each person has their own. Then you can offer a variety of toppings and sides. You can go with standards like chili and cheddar or get creative with things like salsa, lentils or almond butter. (If you’ve never tried a sweet potato with almond butter you are missing out!)

If you decide to order pizza make sure to order more than one cheese pizza! Experience has shown that even the meat eaters want the cheese pizza. Chances are you’ll run out, maybe even before the vegetarian in your clan has a chance to grab a second slice. (Remember this for office parties too!)

Simple ways to make a holiday dinner vegetarian friendly

A new vegetarian might appreciate a “faux meat” dish to stand in for the traditional ham or turkey at dinner. Tofurky sounds like a joke but it is real. It looks like a turkey roast but is completely meat free. You can also look at Field Roast’s Celebration Roast which comes with its own stuffing.

Keep in mind not every vegetarian enjoys mock meat. They may prefer a more natural but still substantial main dish. This recipe for Root Vegetable Baked Quinoa from Clean Eating magazine will please everyone at the table and can easily be made vegan by not topping with cheese. See if your library has a copy of Salad Samuri by Terry Hope Romero and make the Mushroom, Barley and Brussels Harvest Bowl for the non-meat eaters at the table.

Sides for dinner are easy to keep vegetarian. Any kind of roasted vegetable will do! My personal favorite is roasted Brussels sprouts but roasted sweet potatoes or beets are delicious too. Mashed potatoes can be made with coconut milk, stuffing made with vegetable broth and use date syrup in place of honey in sauces and dressings.

What about the snacks? These are super easy too! Hummus and veggies, chips and salsa, nuts and cut fruit are perfect for everyone. If you need help with vegan treats try your local natural market (Mama Jean’s Natural Market usually has some delicious vegan mini muffins) or pick up a copy of Protein Ninja at the library or on Amazon to make vegan scones or brownies for all!

Do you have a vegetarian coming to dinner? How will you make them feel welcome at the table this holiday season?

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