Compassionate Holiday Guide

In this vegan guide to the holidays, you’ll find a looooong list of festive recipes as well as tips for communicating (and coping) with your non-vegan family around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

With so many resources available online, it seemed silly to create my own “how-to” guides, especially as anything I know I learned from someone else! What follows is a selection of people who have personally helped me to handle the holidays and reimagine my traditions in line with my beliefs and values.

Why Do We Eat Turkeys for Thanksgiving?

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, otherwise known as the Joyful Vegan, has the most wonderful insights and information. She is compassionate, empathetic, kind and logical.

In addition to some wonderful thoughts for how to handle the holidays as a vegan in a non-vegan world, her crash course in food history and the reason we came to eat turkey at Thanksgiving is a fascinating listen.

Turns out that no matter what we choose or refuse to eat



A Festive Feast

Far from being restrictive, limiting, bland or boring, a plant-based diet is abundant and full of flavor and variety. We can not only survive but thrive without using and abusing animals, so when amazing alternatives are available to choose from, why wouldn’t we? 

The internet runneth over with festive vegan recipes, but for those of you who are addicted to cookbooks like I am, check out these holiday hardbacks:

Celebratory Centerpieces

Everyone knows that Christmas and Thanksgiving are all about the sides-dishes anyway, but how beautiful are these celebratory centerpieces?

Chestnut and Cashew Vegan Nut Roast

I made this classic nut roast last year for my first vegan Christmas at home in Ireland. It is tender, nutty and full of festive flavor. My family enjoyed it as side-dish (they viewed it more like stuffing than a main meal but they all agreed it was delicious and ate it as leftovers over the next few days). I highly recommend it, and will be making it year after year.

Chestnut and Cashew Vegan Nut Roast, by Thinly Spread

Sorta Classic Pot Pie

Cosy comfort food by Isa Chandra with this (sorta) classic pot pie.

Sorta Classic Pot Pie, by Isa Chandra

Festive Portobello Mushroom Wellington

Oh man. To say my husband doesn’t like mushrooms is the understatement of the year, but screw that guy, this looks amazing!

Recommended by Friends:

Pre-Prepared Options

Not everyone has the time, energy or inclination to cook from scratch, especially if you are are the only vegan at the dinner table. Luckily, there are more and more tasty plant-based options on the market every year, so it should be relatively easy to find a vegan main to go with your sides.

Savory Sides

Maple Roasted Carrots with Cranberries

So beautiful!

Maple Roasted Carrots with Cranberries, by Lazy Cat Kitchen

The possibilities are endless:

You Say Potato, I Say…


I’m not a big drinker, but when it comes to potatoes I certainly live up to the Irish stereotype, and I’ve definitely saved the best till last with these amazing tater recipes.

With so many delicious and creamy plant-based milks and butters to choose from, potato dishes are one of the easiest to make vegan without sacrificing taste or texture. Oat milk is my favorite, but almond milk is also a good option. Miyokos European Style cultured butter was an absolute game changer for me–I would choose it over dairy butter even if I weren’t vegan–and it’s now widely available. Earth Balance is also very good, but if you can afford to (and aren’t allergic to cashews), I would splurge on Miyokos for a special occasion.

Vegan Mashed Potatoes

Minimalist Baker is no longer completely vegan, but she’s still one of my go-to food bloggers for incredible plant-based dishes, like these creamy garlicy mashed potatoes.

Vegan Mashed Potatoes, by Minimalist Baker

It’s all gravy baby….

Vegan Scalloped Potatoes

Nora Cooks is another of my go-to food bloggers for consistently great recipes. I haven’t tried these plant-based scalloped potatoes yet, but Nora hasn’t failed me yet, and I’ll be making this cheesy creamy goodness over this year’s holidays for sure.

Vegan Scalloped Potatoes, by Nora Cooks

For an ever so slightly healthier spin on this recipe, check out this Creamy Sweet Potato Bake by Clean Food Crush.

Vegan Christmas Roast Potatoes & all the Trimmings

I adore Gaz Oakley, aka the Avant Garde Vegan. His enthusiasm is infectious and his kitchen skills are top notch. In this video, he cooks up the best crispy roast potatoes and all the trimmings, including roasted zesty sprouts, orange glazed carrots and pan-roasted maple parsnips… So good!

Decadent Desserts & Cruelty-Free Charcuterie