My partner Tom and I plan to host Christmas in our Bristol flat this year, and hopefully my mum, dad and brother will come over (Covid restrictions allowing). I’m not sure about the main yet — I’ve cooked the vegan author, YouTuber and chef Gaz Oakley’s Christmas Wellington a few times and it always comes out a treat. I’m up for trying something new this year, though.
Tom’s a vegan, Mum’s “almost vegan” and, while my brother and dad do eat animal products, they both enjoy vegan food and are always keen to try new dishes. So, we do have a fully vegan Christmas and everyone is happy about it, thankfully! I started making the veggie main course for Christmas dinner when I was a teenager and took a lot of pride in it — it had to look good, as well as taste amazing. I was already veggie when I went vegan, so it wasn’t a big transition — most alternatives to turkey are already vegan, such as nut roast, and dishes like beef Wellington can easily be veganised, as Gaz has proved!
The roots en croute in Co-op’s plant-based GRO range would be a great choice — it has golden pastry that’s beautifully flaky, with a gorgeous cranberry sauce, and lots of roasted root veg. It’s a good way to prove to any sceptical family members that vegan food can be rich and indulgent. Plus, it’s nice to think I have an easy option, should I choose to spend less time in the kitchen and more time on the sofa this year!
People often imagine being a vegan at Christmas — or catering for one — is hard, but it really isn’t. Once you remove the turkey, most things on the plate are vegan: roast potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce… these are the things people usually get most excited about anyway! So, going plant-based doesn’t have to set you apart from the rest of the family. Just sort out your main, then check the gravy’s vegan and the potatoes are cooked in oil, not goose fat.
Co-op’s my nearest food shop, so I pop in a few times a week and have tried most of their GRO range. The no-pork pigs in pastry duvets make great snacks. I’ll put any leftovers from Christmas dinner in a sarnie on Boxing Day, with dairy-free mayo and cheese alternative, plus lettuce, as I did for this photoshoot.
Sprouts are my favourite festive side — I like to drizzle them with olive oil, scatter with chilli flakes, then roast until they’re crispy, and slightly charred around the edges. Delicious! I’m expecting New Year’s Eve to be fairly low-key this year, but for a snack with the drinks, I’ll be serving Co-op’s no-duck spring rolls, which are filled with spiced jackfruit and hoisin sauce, alongside a Chinese-style dip. Cheers!
Selene’s vegan tips
Stock up: Make sure you have all you need in the storecupboard, so you don’t run out of essentials like chutney, oil, cranberry sauce — and chocolate, of course!
Prepare ahead: This is the best advice I can give for hosting Christmas dinner. So, do all your vegetable prep the day before.
Make a schedule: On the big day, it’s important to know what goes in the oven when. If you follow a timetable, you won’t get overwhelmed — so you can actually enjoy the meal!
Forage for holly: If you see any when you’re out and about, snip a few leaves, as they’ll look nice on the table — and they’re free!
Selene Nelson’s Yes Ve-gan! is available now (Octopus).
LISTEN UP! Catch the vegan episode of our ‘In it Together’ podcast at coop.co.uk/podcast
Look out for our plant-based range instore. We’ve brought out these three for Christmas, but you’ll find lots more, from sausages and salads to desserts. Search ‘vegan’ at coop.co.uk/products.
- Co-op Gro Roots en Croute, 412g
- Co-op Gro No-Pork Pigs in Duvets, 280g
- Co-op 10 No-Duck Spring Rolls,180g
Catch Selene in our festive video on the Co-op Food YouTube channel