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How to make a vegetarian Christmas meal

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With more people becoming vegetarian, it is important to know how to cater for your veggie guests, so no-one has to feel awkward or embarrassed. You may be planning nut roast as the main course, but do ensure your mince pies, Christmas pud and gravy are all veggie too!
What you'll need: 
Vegetable Oil
Vegetarian Gravy
Vegetarian Mincemeat
Vegetarian Christmas pudding
Vegetarian Gravy
Vegetarian cheese (not all cheese is veggie)
Pre-dinner snacks. Not too tricky this one. Nuts and olives are fine. It's easy to find vegetarian dips too. If you are having meat flavoured crisps, keep them separate and label them. If you are offering any cheesy nibbles you need to check they are made with vegetarian cheese. (A lot of hard cheese has rennet in it - an enzyme from mammal's stomach). Assume cheese is not vegetarian unless it says it is.
Starters. It's probably easiest to opt for a Starter that all can eat. It might be worth checking if your veggie friends eat fish as many do, and it opens up more options especially if you fancy a traditional prawn cocktail! Otherwise a vegetable based soup is a good choice.
Main course. If you are having a traditional roast Turkey, possible the easiest meal to offer is a Vegetarian Nut Roast (But do check your guests do not have a nut allergy!). These can be bought ready made from most supermarkets and health food shops or, can be made. See the link below for a recipe.
Vegetables. Your vegetarian guests should be able to share your vegetables provided they are boiled or steamed in the usual way. Any frying or roasting should be done with vegetable fat or olive oil - not lard or goose fat. If you are offering roast potatoes they will need to be roasted in a separate tin well away from splashes from the meat.
Gravy. If you are making gravy with the meat juices, you will need to do a separate gravy for your vegetarian friends. You can buy gravy granules that are suitable for vegetarians from the supermarket. If you want it all home made, go for an onion based gravy.
Pudding. Now you think you are on safe ground - but be careful. Traditional Christmas Pudding often has suet in it, as do mince pies. Check that they are vegetarian and if not, get some or offer an alternative that others might enjoy such as Apple Crumble (see link below for recipe)
If you are having trifle, jelly, cheesecake or similar ensure they do not contain gelatine. Gelatine is a protein derived from animal tissue such as bone and can be found in a lot of desserts and sweets. Look for the vegetarian symbol.
Cheese Board. Keep your vegetarian cheese clearly marked and on a separate cheese board from the rest. Supply a separate knife too.
After dinner mints and chocolates. As you head for the port, coffee and mints, congratulating yourself on a successful dinner, just do make sure that your mints are gelatine free. Most veggies prefer their chocolate and coffee Fair Trade too!
With a few adjustments, and a little thought, you can cater successfully for vegetarian guests. Don't forget they are used to eating with carnivores and will probably be prepared to deal tactfully with any faux pas!
Check the label of anything you have bought from a shop.
If you are unsure about anything, ask your veggie guest.
It's the hidden things that a cause problems, avoid suet, gelatine and rennet.


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