Have yourself a veggie friendly Christmas!

Published by Aoife Rose O'Reilly on

Maybe you’re vegetarian. Maybe you just think turkey tastes like tissue paper. Either way traditional Irish Christmas meals can be tricky to navigate- Ham! Turkey! Fry-up with 12 sausages per person! Which is great and lovely and you feel bad turning it down because so much work goes into cooking them- and then three hours later you feel as stuffed as the turkey and fall asleep in the mulled wine.

Fortunately there are alternatives in this brave new world for those of us that don’t want to live on meat alone. For convenience sake I will divide it out into two sections: Whether you are cooking and have control over ingredients, or whether you don’t.



If you are at a traditional house you will be presented with a fry. Given that it takes approximately 2 billion years to cook a turkey people tend to go for a big breakfast. Luckily a few additions or indeed retractions from this can make a stomach-liner that doesn’t sit there like a lead weight during mass.

Ditch the sausages and rashers and opt for mushrooms – they provide a good amount of protein to fill you up for the coming day. Eggs in their many forms provide a similar role, while tomatoes and (hopefully) hash browns add colour and texture to proceedings.

If you have control over cooking yourself, you can really alter the menu. Christmas breakfast falafel? Fried spinach is an excellent option to start the day and can be taken in combination with eggs. Better yet, there’s a variety to the mushrooms on offer these days- you can have a selection of flavour and shape to start the day.

The same goes for beans- mixes including kidney beans and chickpeas. Speaking of chickpeas, try adding some hummus to your sideboard. The choices are endless when you’re in control – honeyed nuts? Cranberry jam? A pot of melted cheese?



There seems to be a great cultural divide here: Christmas Lunch or Christmas Dinner? Which is the most important meal?

No matter your answer it’s generally a good idea to have something to tide you over till dinner. It will keep your energy up while you untangle the Christmas lights to find that one dead bulb, try to get the angel back on top of the tree and search desperately for enough brandy to light the pudding on fire. Fortunately, there are multiple meals you can prepare in advance to save you spending the entire day in the kitchen.

This is where that half bag of cranberries that’s always left over can come in handy, along with the ends of the walnuts or hazelnuts in making a salad. If you have a few spare ends of cheese hanging around these can also create a good dish. Brussel sprouts are surprisingly good when you cut them in half and fry them.

Alternately, if you can get into the kitchen around all the saucepans this could be a perfect time for a brie-and-cranberry sambo. Simple and delicious.


Ho ho how do you replace the classic Christmas turkey? By artfully arranging chunks of cauliflower and roasting it?

Behold! The quiche.


Is it not glorious? Better yet, you can buy one including your favourite vegetables or adjust any basic recipe to suit your tastes. If you grow your own vegetables you might have some preserved onions left over, which are excellent in a quiche dish. Better again there are many small local sellers of eggs that could provide you with a fresh supply even now- in terms of taste there’s no competition between a homegrown egg and a supermarket egg.

Other Christmas mains could include a nut roast, a cauliflower cake or a Sprout and egg hash. Again all of this depends on how much control you have over the kitchen: If you can get in at the hob, fantastic! If not, you may end up creating a meal for yourself of potato, carrots and sprouts. However! If you prepare now you could create and bring a veggie dish of your own to family gatherings. How about a seasonal wreath cake? Or a classic pudding?

Either way, you can survive Christmas meat free with a little creativity.

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Aoife Rose O'Reilly

Aoife is a contributor to Green News. She has a degree in Natural Sciences from Trinity College Dublin and an MSC in Evolutionary Biology from UCD. She also volunteers with Dublin Zoo.