Vegans vs meat eaters: The pros & cons of a plant-based Christmas

A family eating vegan Christmas dinner
A family eating vegan Christmas dinner Copyright Getty images
Copyright Getty images
By Maeve Campbell
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Would you switch to a vegan Christmas dinner if the food was good enough?


We tend to give vegans a hard time over the festive period. If yet another family member chimes in with, "but it’s Christmas, can’t you just make an exception?", they might just leave the table – and fair enough.

Cursed with the unfair reputation of being difficult dinner guests, plant-based folks often have to bring their own grub or make do with food that is not exactly...gourmet.

Yes, this is literally a slice of banana, on a plate.

A simple Google trend search shows that 'interest in veganism’ increased seven fold in the five years between 2014 and 2019 in the UK alone. The interest surpasses even vegetarian and gluten free searches.

While the evidence certainly suggests vegan diets are more popular than ever before, we wondered what the general consensus was around Christmas?

Is it worth giving up the annual turkey? What about dairy-heavy pavlovas? Pigs in blankets?

5 people tell us whether they would go vegan for Christmas:

The Flexitarian

Megan Henson, Graphic Designer

Megan Hanson

“I have been an on/off vegetarian for about 15 years. But I would still eat meat on Christmas Day."

Megan calls herself a flexitarian and explains that while she fully supports vegans, for her, "Christmas is a day when I’d bend the rules.”

Her concerns stretch to energy use too. "I didn’t always do this but last year it struck me that my mum buying me a meat alternative, (usually a veggie pie), used more energy and was more wasteful than just eating whatever everyone else in my family was eating."

The Vegetarian

Rosie Kimberley-Brooks, Art assistant

Rosie Kimberley-Brooks

"I’ve always looked forward to all the trimmings on a Christmas dinner and have never struggled or gone hungry as people sometimes think veggies do at Xmas."

Rosie doesn't eat meat at Christmas.

Instead, she opts for different meat substitutes every year "to make it special." In the past, she has gone for Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages or a pie. But as veggie options have multiplied in supermarkets, she now prefers alternatives like quorn chicken fillets.

She's vegetarian, rather than vegan, due to her love of cheese. Over the festive period, her favourites include cauliflower cheese, creamy dauphinois potatoes and cheese and leek plaits.

"To be honest it’s just laziness! I love cheese and chocolate & loads of wine - which is usually not vegan."

The Meat-Eater

Eleanor Kingsley, Actor and Artist

Eleanor Kingsley

"I'm a pro-meat eater. My grandparents are farmers and my mum is a nurse who specialises in diabetes, so I was brought up to respect having a balanced diet."


Elle says she's not interested in "bashing vegans", but prefers to eat a traditional Christmas dinner. She says "there are proteins and benefits to eating meat, and especially fish, that I believe are important. I also find that if I don't eat meat then I get hungrier a lot quicker."

She doesn't believe it's a good idea to simply "switch diets overnight" and when it comes to Christmas, admits she just likes the taste of meat. "We do balance it with vegetables grown from the garden", she explains, but Christmas "wouldn't be the same" without meat.

The Vegans

Christina Joanna Forrest, Fitness Instructor

Christina Joanna Forrest

“My partner and I are totally vegan and did vegan Christmas dinner last year for our family, who loved it. We have vegan roasts most Sundays too."

Christina and her partner Doug think Christmas dinner can be just as flavoursome without meat or dairy. "I have never missed meat in nearly 3 years", she says, claiming she makes her own Yorkshire puddings using oat milk.

Rosemary and thyme potatoes, roasted parsnips, carrots and butternut squash and roasted cauliflower with smoked paprika.

Christmas dinner for Christina is veggie heavy. It involves rosemary and thyme potatoes, roasted parsnips, carrots and butternut squash, roasted cauliflower with smoked paprika, tumeric and cumin with garlic oil and brussel sprouts fried with leeks.

Then she makes asparagus tips with a drizzle of oil "tastes like pork scratching", stuffing baked and veggie gravy. That's how vegans do Christmas.

Going vegan could save you money too

According to the vegan society, we could practically reverse the climate crisis if the world’s population became vegan. The charity claims we could save 8 million human lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds, leading to healthcare-related savings, and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

So from an environmental perspective, it's pretty convincing.

But if you're still feeling sceptical, money saving app Get Chip has just released a study claiming that going vegan for Christmas Day could save you a whole £56.


Buying alternatives like vegan trimming selections, nut and mushroom roasts and 'no beef' wellingtons ended up being cheaper than going for meat-heavy counterparts.

The top vegan Christmas recipes on Instagram

Quinoa fruit cake anyone? It's gluten free too.

Jam-packed with sultanas, apricots and cranberries, this is a great vegan alternative to Christmas cake and is crammed full of fibre.

Wondering how to bake Christmas goodies without eggs?

Here's a definitive guide offering up all the best egg substitutes, including flax seeds and half a mashed banana.


Chef Rachel Ama's caramelised red onion and garlic green beans with smokey coconut flakes make delicious vegan sides for Christmas dinner.

Our favourite side is coconut bacon.

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Caramelised red onion and garlic green beans with smokey coconut flakes 🔥 🌱 as part of my Christmas sides recipes I shared on my YouTube channel! 🎄 I like to make my greens tasty 🤤 GARLIC GREEN BEANS 1 tbsp olive oil 1 red onion, finely sliced 4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced Salt and black pepper 500g green beans, trimmed 1-2 tablespoons vegan butter (OPTIONAL) 3 tbsp nutritional yeast 1 large bunch of spring greens or kale or Swiss chard 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice or 1 tbsp cider vinegar/balsamic vinegar 1 tbsp soy sauce COCONUT FLAKES 2 cups of coconut flakes 1 tbsp olive oil 2 tbsp soy sauce/tamari/coconut aminos 1 tsp smoked paprika 1-2 tbsp maple syrup 1 tsp liquid smoke 1 pinch sea salt METHOD 1. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat, add sliced red onions, season with salt and black pepper and cook for 5-10 minutes until onions brown and soften. The goal is for them start to caramalise before adding in the rest of the ingredients. 2. Add garlic and cook for a minute until they soften then add in green beans. Mix to combine with onions and garlic. Place a lid on the pan and allow the green beans to cook for around 5 minutes. Remove lid and mix, season with vegan butter(optional) salt and black pepper and cook for another few minutes. Don’t over cook the greens! You want them still vibrant in colour with a very slight bite to them. 3. When there is just a few minutes of cooking time left, add spring greens, nutritional yeast and lemon/vinegar and mix. Taste to adjust seasoning. Once greens have wilted remove from heat and serve with smokey coconut flakes.

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A great recipe for making 'easy vegan gravy.'

Pour it over potatoes and veggie stuffing and you'll never know the difference.

Mushroom, lentil & red wine wellington is a perfect Christmas centrepiece.


This is technically a vegetarian dish but easily made vegan by using vegan pastry and oil in place of egg.

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RECIPE - Mushroom, lentil & red wine wellington ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Hold tight for Christmas recipes from now until the big day! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This wellington is an ideal veggie centrepiece to your Christmas feast. The cooking is simple & speedy, but you need to give the filling time to cool - it makes working with the pastry much easier. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It’s easily made vegan by using vegan pastry & oil in place of egg. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ You'll need (serves 4-6): 4 large Portobello mushrooms 1 onion, finely dice 1 carrot, finely diced 1 celery stick, finely dice 1 tin cooked dark/puy lentils 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 large sprig of rosemary, finely chopped 1 tbsp soy sauce 100ml red wine 300g puff pastry 150g baby spinach 1 egg, beaten ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Preheat your oven to 200˚C/Gas 6. Toss the mushrooms in a roasting tray with 2 tbsp of oil & seasoning. Bake for 20 mins. Remove from the tray & place in the fridge. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ While the mushrooms roast, warm 1 tbsp of oil in a saucepan & cook the onion, carrot & celery over a medium heat for 10 mins. Meanwhile, drain & rinse the lentils. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Add the garlic, rosemary, lentils, soy sauce & red wine to the veg, along with 100ml of water. Cook over a medium heat for 10 mins, until most of the liquid has disappeared & the lentils have become mushy. Remove from the heat & season with salt & pepper to taste. Pop into the fridge to cool. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Roll out the pastry into a rectangle about 3mm thin, roughly the size of an A4 sheet. Lay it on the clean baking tray & return it to the fridge to stay cold. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Place the spinach in saucepan over a high heat until just wilted, about 30 secs. Drain (cold water), squeeze out excess water & roughly chop. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ To build the Wellington, spread the cooled lentil mix over the pastry, leaving a 2cm gap along one long edge. Place the mushrooms, stems up, in a line down the centre &pack them with spinach. Brush the exposed pastry edge with a little little water. Gently lift it up & over to completely encase the mushrooms, pressing the damp edge down. Crimp the open ends.Brush with beaten egg & lightly score the top. Cut 2 or 3 vent holes to let the steam escape.Bake for 20-25 mins until golden

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A list of vegan Christmas dinner ideas you might never have thought of and how to make them/where to buy them.

We'd never heard of a vegan 'root en croute.'

In other news, ever wondered why women are more likely to go vegan than men? We investigated.

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