The Gluten Free Veggie

Gluten Free and Vegetarian Recipes, Reviews and Information



Advice | First Vegetarian Christmas

By Lucy and Tegan.

One of our readers asked us if we could write a post about how to cope with your first Christmas as a vegetarian! We’ve pooled our vegetarian knowledge and co-authored this post to offer some help to those worried about tackling the new lifestyle during the festive season!


Be prepared to be tempted. If you gave up meat for ethical reasons rather than a dislike of the taste/texture you might find yourself craving that Christmas turkey and pigs in blankets! Having recipes ready with meat free alternatives is a good start, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. Instead of thinking, ‘I’m sad I can’t have turkey,’ you’re excited about the brilliant nut roast you’re going to get to have instead. If you have veggie gravy and sausage rolls to hand, you’re less likely to feel tempted by meat or to feel sad for the food you might feel you’re missing – especially if there are certain foods you associate with the tradition of Christmas.

Have plenty of ready made vegetarian treats to hand. Christmas isn’t just about the dinner – in my family Christmastime and New Year come hand in hand with buffets, chocolate selection boxes, biscuit tins and snacks. Make sure you have vegetarian alternatives for all of these items ready before the festivities start so you don’t go hungry!

Combat the stigma! Depending on your family’s view of vegetarianism, you may experience some stigma from others around the dinner table. If you’re eating with family or friends, maybe bring along something vegetarian you’ve made that they can share and realise that your food isn’t tasteless! (and sharing’s quite nice and festive isn’t it?). My Mum’s nut roast is always popular with the meat eaters at Christmas and they often try to pinch a bit for their own dinners!

If you’re hosting a Christmas dinner be aware that some people may expect meat. In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to deal with meat, but that may not be the case and when hosting you should take your guests preferences into consideration. Forcing your family to have an entirely vegetarian Christmas may just create more hostility towards your vegetarianism. Instead, see if a meat eating family member would be happy to cook the meat at their house and bring it with them. This is how we’ve always done it at my house.

Remind yourself to be proud and happy about your lifestyle. If you’re still struggling with temptation or wondering what you can eat, just remember you’re doing an awesome thing, it’s great for animals, for the planet, for your health. That more than makes up for missing out on some foods that aren’t even that great (turkey can be dry and horrible really!). I don’t miss eating meat at all any more!

Rejoice in the Christmas foods that are already vegetarian! Stuffing, Christmas pud and mince pies are all vegetarian anyway! (Of course these things are not naturally gluten free but you can get GF alternatives!)

Also rejoice in the non-food related parts of Christmas. It can be easy to bog yourself down in thinking about Christmas parties, family occasions and the big day itself as food-orientated but it doesn’t have to be! If you’re worried that you’ll feel like you’re missing out, try to focus on the other aspects of this time of year – good company, games, films, crackers etc.

I hope all of you new vegetarians have a very Merry Christmas!

11.12.16 (39)


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National Vegetarian Week | Bacon

Some of you may know that I’ve been vegetarian since birth – that means I’ve never eaten meat. And frankly, I very rarely think about it. My Dad is not vegetarian and my Mum is and so they gave me two different approaches to the lifestyle. My Dad made it clear that I could try meat or fish if I wanted to and my Mum never judged my Dad for his diet. I subsequently grew up without hating meat eaters but also seeing that meat eaters could respect vegetarianism. My Dad eats vegetarian food 99% of the time, purely because he enjoys it.

You may wonder why I’ve called this blog post “Bacon”. Some of you probably clicked on it hoping for controversy or for me to say that I’ve never been able to resist the smell. In fact I’ve used this title to convey what the word “bacon” represents to a vegetarian – the scorn of some meat eaters.

I wrote this blog post recently asking meat eating Coeliacs to respect the fact that I am able to be vegetarian and a Coeliac – one through choice but not the other. I ask for this respect again. I am not a preachy vegetarian, nor do I look down my nose at meat eaters. This is my lifestyle choice and I do not deserve your scorn.

Any vegetarians reading this will know what I mean. We’ve all been sat at a party with new acquaintances or chatted to work colleagues about being vegetarian and heard the trusty, trotted out phrase “But what about bacon?”. They look at you with dumbfounded yet smug expressions, thinking “I’ve got her now, how could she possibly not want to eat bacon?”. I’ve had 22 years of that. It has never becomes less annoying but my responses have become better, quicker, more direct. When I was a child I would just shrug, embarrassed, unable to voice my viewpoint to the (usually) grown adults that would ask me this.

Now, a nearly adult woman, I can fire off my reply with an amused and not an embarrassed mindset. After all this time the phrase has just become a parody of itself.

So then, in case you’re still wondering, what about bacon?

The answer, from my point of view, is simple. Vegetarians, especially those who have been vegetarian all of their lives like myself, don’t sit around thinking about meat. We don’t block it out or learn to fear and hate it like a brain washed cultist, we just don’t find ourselves daydreaming about it. We understand that nearly everyone in Western culture raves about bacon, but quite frankly we’re not that interested. We find joy in our food just the same as you do.

All I ask for is respect for each other’s choice goes both ways. Eating meat is just as much a choice as being vegetarian, and that choice is up to the individual. Next time you ask a vegetarian, “what about bacon?” perhaps you’ll consider that.

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