Surviving a holiday dinner


April 5, 2007

There are ways to make everyone feel comfortable when holiday plans include both vegetarian and non-vegetarian guests.

Sections below:
Catering to vegetarians
Being invited to a home where meat is being served
Inviting non-vegetarians to your home
Time saving tips

[image: table setting]Catering to vegetarians (when you aren’t one yourself)

There are ways to make everyone feel comfortable and well-fed when you are planning a festive meal for your vegetarian and non-vegetarian guests.


  • Consider making the whole meal vegetarian. Creative use of recipes flavoured with delicious herbs and spices won’t leave anyone feeling deprived.
  • If you are serving the traditional turkey (or other meat) and all the fixings, add a special vegetarian entree and meat-free gravy.
  • Focus on providing a wide variety of delicious side dishes. Holiday favourites that are vegetarian include: baked squash, roasted vegetables, wild rice, baked potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc.
  • Make all the appetizers vegetarian. Try hummus, vegetarian pâté, olive paste, guacamole, or bruschetta.
  • Your vegetarian guests may offer to bring their own entree. Letting them bring something may put both you and them at ease.

Other things to consider:

  • The vegetarians won’t eat the stuffing if it is cooked in the turkey. You may wish to prepare a special batch of stuffing and bake it in a separate dish.
  • Try to find out if your veggie guests will eat dairy products and eggs. If you are unsure, don’t include any dairy or eggs in the food you prepare for them.

Being invited to a home where meat is being served

  • If your hosts are relatives or good friends who know you are vegetarian, ask them if they want you to bring along an entrée to share with the rest of the guests.
  • If you don’t know your hosts all that well, try to make sure they know you are vegetarian or vegan. Their reaction should give you some clue as to how to proceed from there. They may cheerfully offer to provide a separate dish for you, or they may be at a total loss and would, therefore, welcome your contributing an entree to the meal.

Inviting non-vegetarians to your home

Prepare a substantial vegetarian meal – well cooked and attractively served. Don’t apologize for the lack of a turkey or other meat centre piece. There is no need to call attention to the idea that something is missing.

 Time saving tips

  • Call a vegetarian-friendly restaurant [Toronto, World Links] and order an entrée or side dish that you can pick up. Bring your own containers. Le Commensal (several locations in Quebec and one in Toronto) has an excellent selection in their buffet. They also carry pre-packaged savoury pies, pâtés, fancy desserts, etc.
  • Larger natural food stores [Toronto, World Links] carry Tofurky (“a bird-free feast with all the trimmings”) and a wide variety of vegetarian dips, pâtés, faux meats, frozen entrees, non-dairy ice cream, pies, soy nog (in December) and much more.
  • Arrange for some or all of the guests to contribute a dish.
  • At some point after the meal, ask for help with the dishes and clean-up. Many hands make light work.
  • Prepare some of the items ahead of time. Use easy recipes that you are already familiar with.

Holiday recipes

[image: green beans and cranberries]Vegetarian Holidays information & recipe sheet
View our printable two-page holiday fact sheet: vegetarian-holiday.pdf (180 kb). It includes the following recipes: Easy Festive Bake, Stuffed Tofu Turkey, Good Gravy, Sweet Potato and Parsnip Casserole, Chestnut Soup with Greens, Ginger Cranberry Mincemeat Pie, and Vegan Egg Nog.

Holiday pages

See the following pages for holiday recipes and festive tips: has menus for a Vegetarian New Year!, and St. Patrick’s Day Feast

For Jewish holidays including Purim, Passover, and Chanukah – an excellent list of recipe links is available from Jewish Veg.


PETA has several holiday cards at their E-card web site. Most are animated, and several have moral messages such as “don’t buy animals as presents.”

See our Christmas page for more E-card sites.

Filed under: Eat Veg Uncategorised Vegetarian Meal Ideas