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Depending on their beliefs, some vegetarians may consume eggs and/or dairy products, while vegans avoid all foods produced from animals or by animals. People choose to be vegan for a variety of reasons, which may include the ethical treatment of animals or a belief that is it healthier.
Navigating the holiday buffet can be a difficult task for a vegan friend or family member. Festive meals often include a centerpiece, such as turkey or ham. As well eggs, butter and other dairy products are used in virtually all baked goods and many side dishes.
If you're struggling to provide a selection of vegan options, we've provided some vegan-friendly recipes that are sure to bring colour and variety to the table.
Holiday hosting of vegans
Here are a few tips to make entertaining vegan friends and family easy:
• Choose simple, unprocessed, fresh ingredients. Fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds require little prep work and present beautifully for vegans and nonvegans alike. Try a crudité platter with bean dip for an appetizer; a fresh fruit platter for dessert.
• Read ingredient lists on processed foods carefully. Some common animal by-products that should be avoided (which may appear in packaged goods) include gelatin, rennet, whey. casein, beeswax and honey. Some consider the use of insect products acceptable – to be sure, ask your guest.
• Choose a meat-free centerpiece. During the holidays, a number of natural food stores now carry meatless turkey products, which closely mimic the texture and flavour of the real bird.
• Browse the natural food aisles. Vegetarian and vegan products are more mainstream and many are available in supermarkets. Look for nondairy ice cream, soy eggnog and vegetable pâtés to replace some of your holiday staples (but be sure to always read ingredient lists).
• Let your vegan guests know that you are happy to accommodate their dietary preferences. Ask that they send you their favourite holiday recipes ahead of time.
A balanced vegan diet
Consuming a balanced diet that meets all of the vegan’s nutrient requirements involves planning. Here are a few specific nutrients that may be of concern.
Adequate protein is important for maintaining energy and is essential for the growth and repair of muscles and tissues. Requirements can be met by consuming a variety of whole grains, legumes and vegetables.
Vegan foods high in protein include: tofu, TVP (texturized vegetable protein), soy products, beans, nuts and some vegetables (broccoli, peas, asparagus)
This helps red blood cells carry oxygen to tissues and muscles, prevents anemia and supports the immune system. Good sources include dried fruits, dried beans, spinach, chard, tofu and iron-fortified foods, such as cereals.
To improve iron absorption, eat iron-rich foods along with foods containing vitamin C, such as oranges, peppers, baked potatoes or fruit juice.
This nutrient is important for healthy red blood cells and the proper functioning of the nervous system, especially in pregnant and lactating women. B12 comes primarily from animal-derived foods, and the only reliable vegan sources are foods that are fortified, such as some cereals, and soy and rice milk.
Choosing a daily supplement with at least 3 micrograms of B12 is recommended to meet requirements.
Calcium maintains strong bones and teeth and regulates muscle function. Many vegans may find it difficult to achieve their daily requirements, so it is important to plan carefully.
Good calcium sources include tofu, fortified soy milk, fortified orange juice, almonds, collard greens, broccoli and kale.
• Vitamin D
This vitamin aids in calcium absorption. Sunlight enables us to make our own vitamin D, however, during Canadian winters, a dietary source, such as fortified soy or rice milk, is important.
• Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Whereas nonvegetarians may rely on fish for their omega-3 fatty acids, vegans can get these essential fats from foods such as walnuts, ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
Some vegan resources
- www.greendooronline.ca This is an online vegetarian market that supplies a wide variety of vegan and vegetarian product to Canadians.
- www.yvesveggie.ca This is a popular Canadian producer of soy-based meatless products available in supermarkets across Canada.
- www.happycow.net This is a global vegetarian restaurant guide and directory of health food stores.
- www.dietitians.ca/news/downloads/vege_guide(EN).pdf The New North American Vegetarian Food Guide was developed by a Canadian dietitian for use by vegetarians and vegans alike.
Vegan recipes by The Canadian Living Test Kitchen
Asparagus and Orange Salad with Ginger Dressing
Avocado and Bibb Lettuce Toss
Vegetable Tofu Salad
Grapefruit Avocado and Watercress Salad
Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup with Tofu
Vegan Bean Soup
Roasted Carrot and Shallot Soup
Bulgar-Stuffed Acorn Squash
Tofu and Broccoli in Peanut Sauce
Black Bean and Mushroom Patties
Baked Beans with Apples
Grilled Black Bean Tofu Kabobs
Spaghetti and Tofu Balls
Japanese Vegetarian Buckwheat Noodles
Chilled Asian Noodle Salad
Dairy-Free Cinnamon Walnut Mandelbrot