Every year millions of British people sit down to enjoy their Christmas dinner, the centrepiece of which will likely be a turkey.
These turkeys often come from slaughterhouses where their lifespans range from 8-26 weeks, of which they spend the whole time in a small confined area being fed up to their optimum Christmas dinner size. The Vegetarian Society reports that over 18 million turkeys were killed in the UK in 2012, with the number rising significantly during the festive period. A more recent estimate by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs suggested that 14 million turkeys were killed last year.
Perhaps explaining the suggested decline is that every day the number of people following a meat free diet is growing in the UK and consequently, so too are meat free alternatives also becoming far more popular at Christmas time.
With there now being so many alternatives it can sometimes be hard to find the right one. As someone who’s about to embark on her fifth meat-free Christmas I have compiled a list of what I believe are some of the best options. Whether you’re a dedicated vegan, a new vegetarian or just someone looking to reduce their meat consumption this list has some tasty options.
There is no shame in meat free alternatives that attempt to replicate the taste and look of real meat. A Quorn roast is a perfect alternative if you don’t follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle and are just trying to reduce your meat consumption. It’s certainly not the most flavoursome meat free alternative, but they’re still pretty tasty. They are easy to find and relatively cheap to buy. Vegetarian, but not vegan friendly.
Linda McCartney Vegetarian Roast
Along with Quorn, Linda McCartney is one of the UK’s most popular meat free brands. Although this roast is beef-flavoured, not turkey, it still fits perfectly well in a traditional Christmas dinner. It’s finished with a red wine and shallot glaze and is therefore a lot more flavoursome than the Quorn roast. This roast is also vegan friendly.
The idea of a nut roast in a Christmas dinner is usually met with disgust and near horror by meat eaters. However, the assumption that they are disgusting is unfair. Nut roasts vary so much in ingredients, so no matter what you like there is probably one for you. If you’re brave enough, there are a long list of nut roast recipes online. Or if you’d rather buy your own there are a number of delicious nut roasts on the market:
- M&S Vegan Butternut, Almond & Pecan Nut Roast with a Red Wine & Thyme Gravy – Given that it’s M&S this nut roast is a bit pricier, but it’s certainly worth it for the taste. It also does very well at beating the “vegan food is flavourless and boring” stereotype.
- Cashew, Quinoa & Carrot Nut Roast – If you want to try a meat free alternative but don’t want to invest too much cash in to it, then this one from Lidl at only £4 is a great option. Tasty and cheap.
Mushroom and Spinach Pastries
There are two types of vegans and vegetarians: those who hate mushrooms and those who love them. Unfortunately for the former, meat free options very often have mushrooms in them. If you happen to be someone who likes mushrooms, then mushroom and spinach pastries are definitely the way to go on Christmas Day. They are available from every supermarket from M&S to Lidl, depending on your budget.
These are just a few options available to anyone who wants to ditch the turkey on Christmas Day. Eating meat free alternatives can reduce your carbon footprint, help prevent cruelty to animals and shows that there are lots of exciting and delicious foods that can be eaten on Christmas Day aside from meat.