Traditionally in NZ, Christmas dinner includes vast quantities of meat and a vegetarian can not only go hungry, but also become the uncomfortable subject of table conversation and even ridicule.
Our Vegetarian Guests page has tips for catering in general, but you’ll find more specific special occassion information below.
Christmas should be a happy time, spent enjoying good food and good company. Here are some ideas to help make your Christmas more enjoyable. You’ll find Christmas recipes in our recipe section, too.
The UK Vegetarian Society has more ideas to help you out when thinking about cruelty-free Christmas catering. They also have a comprehensive Christmas menu recipe archive.
Below is a checklist to remind you or your host about some of those hidden ingredients. Using the NZ Vegetarian Society Approved logo to guide you is a fail safe way to get through; otherwise check labels carefully and with a little knowledge about those codes you will ensure a successful vegan or vegetarian dining experience.
Wine – Vegetarian wine is free from finings such as gelatine and isinglass (the swim bladder of tropical fish) frequently used to clarify wine. Look out for the NZ Vegetarian Society’s Approved wines, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
Soft Drinks – Some canned Orange drinks use gelatine as a carrier for added Beta Carotene. (This would not appear on the ingredients panel).
Juice – May contain gelatine
Olives – The stuffed varieties filled with garlic or sundried tomatoes can be favourites, but check they haven’t got anchovies in them. Vegetarians don’t eat fish!
Chips – Often use whey as a flavour carrier. Ready Salted are the certain choice, though some others are flavoured with yeast extract and are therefore suitable. There are also NZVS Approved crisps to choose from.
Chocolate – Watch out for whey and emulsifiers. Dairy chocolate is obviously not vegan. Some dark chocolate is vegan, but you need to check the label.
Roast Vegetables - Need to be cooked separately from the meat and in vegetable fat or oil to be vegetarian.
Gravy – Vegetarian gravy mixes are readily available. Check labels as some commercially available stuffing mixes are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Vegetarian gravy can also be made from scratch using vege cooking water and stock. Obviously gravy made from meat juices is not suitable for vegetarians.
Mince Pies – Check labelling carefully and ask for an ingredients list in bakeries if you’re tempted by theirs. Both the filling and the pastry can be non-vegetarian.
Jelly – Usually made with gelatine. Vegetarian jelly crystals are available in some specialty shops. As below for glacé cherries, look out for the source of the colouring if using red jelly.
Trifle - If making with jelly, choose a vegetarian jelly.
Glacé Cherries – checks that they don’t contain red cochineal colouring (E120), made from crushed insects