Veganize the Holidays

Veganize the Holidays and get your holly jolly on with our complete field guide

The holidays are a joyous time.
Unless you are worried about the overwhelming fare of meat, dairy, and cheese, the unnecessary glitter and the monumental amount of waste that each festivity generates. Then, you might be wondering: “How on earth will I survive the holidays?” Or even more puzzlingly: “How can Earth survive the holidays?”.

Trust us when we say that you are not alone. More people than ever are opting for a compassionate, sensible way to celebrate the most indulgent time of the year in a sustainable winter wonderland!

Vegan Claus is coming to town

If you’re hosting a holiday feast this year, you’ll probably have at least one vegan friend or family member at the table. Or you might be that person yourself. Luckily, there couldn’t be a better time for happy and tasty holidays without animal suffering: the plant-based foods market has exploded with an abundance of delicious recipes and suitable ingredients with which to get creative. A tip for all vegan-sceptics: there’s no reason to be afraid of a vegan holiday table. We all love to treat ourselves to festive foods, and opting for a cruelty-free menu opens up a myriad of indulging tasty opportunities.

Do they know it’s V-mas time at all?

If you are vegan, plant-committed or plant-curious, hosting the eating marathon certainly gives you an advantage. You can decide the menu, buy your favourite fresh ingredients and cook up a proper feast. But even if you are a guest at someone else’s table, you can contribute to a more plant-friendly menu. Nobody will notice if you added vegan butter to the mashed potatoes. Cashew cream is ten times more delicious than any dairy-based cream and makes for a wonderful addition to any decadent dish. That gravy? Substitute chicken broth for vegetable broth and add mushrooms for some extra umami flavour.

Joy to the world and to the table

Nobody wants to eat mushy or bland food. Remember, we are tactile beings who love a combination of creamy, crunchy, salty, sweet, savoury, acidic, tender, and dense textures. So, play with textures and flavours. Spruce those Brussel sprouts up with some caramelised onions and crunchy toasted nuts, or add a dressing with miso, soy sauce and maple syrup to wow the other guests with a well-executed vegetable dish that can be way more satisfying than anything else on the table.

‘Tis a season to be veggie

And by vegetables, we don’t just mean your side broccoli or potatoes. There are a lot of plant-based dishes that can be turned into incredible meat-like hearty dishes such as lentils transformed into a delectable nut loaf, roast beets folded into a veg Wellington. Chickpeas and other beans make incredible “meat” patties. Switch up the traditional side dishes by making a flavorful tray of roasted root vegetables like beets, parsnips, turnips, and sweet potatoes dressed in a flavour-packed vinaigrette and loads of fresh herbs.

Simply havin’ a wonderful Christmastime without food waste

While we enjoy indulging, we shouldn’t get wrapped up in the holiday cheer and end up needlessly wasting food. Most of us tend to over-buy, fearing there won’t be enough for everyone. Think about how many people are coming, their dietary habits, and stick to your shopping list. Buy loose vegetables, check expiring dates, and remember that you’ll need to store all the food in your fridge, freezer, or cupboard. This should prevent you from piling up on the many seasonal offers and discounts. Campaigns such as Love Food Hate Waste have loads of tips like these to ensure we don’t waste food over the holidays. Still plenty of leftovers? Many local charities can collect surplus food and redistribute it to those in need.

Have yourself a merry little DIY

Natural table decorations are a perfect way to celebrate the beauty of winter without the clutter! Avoid shiny plastic decorations and embrace vegan wax candles, waste-free crackers and winter foliage for a minimal – but no less magical, festive feel. Look to nature for your design scheme and colour palette. A winter walk makes an excellent opportunity to forage for firs, pinecones and holly leaves. Evergreen branches and berries add colour, and dried seed and flower heads can give height and structure to a handmade centrepiece. If you buy new crockery or decorations for your house, make sure you invest in pieces built to last. For example, choose serviettes and tablecloths made from organic cotton, ornaments from recycled materials, or throws and cosy blankets that do not contain harmful substances.

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree

It’s the annual dilemma. Do you buy an artificial tree that will give years of service, or do you stick with a real one that will be discarded on 6 January? According to the Carbon Trust, a standard artificial tree is responsible for about 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions – which means you need to reuse it for about 10 Christmases to keep its environmental impact in check. If you are still keen on buying one, look out for one made out of recycled materials or a pre-owned one.

Pining for the real thing? The obvious downfall for traditional trees is their disposal, so look up ways to get rid of them without leaving too much of a carbon footprint. For one, you can compost them yourself. Or get in touch with your local council about their recycling scheme: real trees can be easily reused for a number of projects, including soil erosion barriers, fish and bird feeders, mulch and paths for hiking trails.

No matter which side you are on, choose LED Christmas lights around your tree, wreaths, and garlands: they are more efficient, durable, and longer-lasting and don’t get hot to the touch.

Let it shop! Let it shop! Let it shop!

So, you want to be more environmentally friendly but cannot give up the ritual of shopping for gifts. A simple rule of thumb is to buy less. Or choose sustainable gifts which can benefit the environment in at least one way. Buy local to minimise the carbon footprint associated with the transportation of the products and support small shops and makers — fairtrade may not be locally sourced but still benefit craftspeople in other areas of the world. Spoil the vegan in your life by purchasing only from brands that have been vetted as cruelty-free.

To make sure that your gifts don’t cost the Earth, apps such as Giki and Ethically can help you navigate your way through the maze of brands.

I saw Mommy buying second-hand

Buying pre-loved instead of brand new gives things a second life, saves resources and helps reduce waste. Second-hand shopping is popular among younger generations, and vintage gifts, once considered cheap or twee, are now cool and unique. Browse online marketplaces like Vinted or eBay, charity shops and antique markets near you for books, music, fashion and even homeware and vintage crockery. And don’t forget you can also donate your old items and unwanted gifts.

Bonus Tip: Bring reusable bags with you to reduce plastic bag consumption. Keep forgetting your tote? Ask the first store you go to for a large one and use it to carry all your purchases for the whole shopping round.

Happy Xmas (Shopping Is Over)!

A nice homemade gift will be cherished much more and longer than anything from a store. Crafty ornaments, picture frames, homemade soaps and even digital options like a photobook, music playlist, or a video compilation are still more personal and meaningful than yet another festive sweater (and totally cruelty-free!). Presents don’t always have to take the form of physical gifts; sharing an experience, visiting a museum or watching a play in a theatre with a friend or relative can become a memory to cherish. Alternatively, offering your time to someone busy or donating to a charity in someone’s name is a gift that keeps on giving.

Jingle bell wrap

Stop wasting millions of rolls of wrapping paper every year! A lot of this type of paper cannot even be recycled as it contains plastic such as glitter or laminates. Instead, do like the Japanese and make a stylish, planet-friendly choice. Furoshiki is a traditional square cloth tied and neatly knotted to transport gifts, books and food. The custom of wrapping objects first began in Japan during the Edo period and is now a kind way to make an impression. Choose durable materials such as cotton or other organic fabrics for an unusual and beautiful wrap and can be reused for birthdays and other celebrations throughout the year.

It’s beginning to look a lot like it’s time to donate to a Vegan Charity

· Animal Equality
· Essere Animali
· Good Food Institute
· Peta
· Sea Shepherd
· Vegan Society

And now, bring out the wine!

So, the tablescape is tastefully set, the food is ready, and plenty of gifts under the tree await for the guest to arrive. For the perfect vegan holiday feast, there’s one last thing you need: Querciabella. Our finest wines, Batàr, Camartina and Palafreno are superb for the holiday table when you want to impress your guests. Don’t forget something cheerful for an informal get-together or in good company around a table. The holiday season is the best time to indulge in some big formats to share. Magnums (1,5 L) and Double Magnums (3 L) are perfect for the cellar as they age more gracefully and make for impressive centrepieces during special gatherings.

Wine makes a great gift, too. Give Turpino, our top bottling from Maremma, to show someone how much you care (about them and the environment). Our Riserva is perfect for those interested in ageing wines, promising to taste even better down the road. For every self-proclaimed “foodie” and Sangiovese-lover, Querciabella Chianti Classico is the ultimate holiday wine to be enjoyed both by itself or served alongside almost any dish. If all you want for Christmas is a  beautifully crafted vegan wine, we’ve got you covered with a variety of options from our online shop. Happy holidays!

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