Our own Vegetarian Guests page has advice and tips for those new to being vegetarian and coping with social occasions, and for those who are catering for guests on plant-based diets.
The UK Vegetarian Society has 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 Vegetarian Society Trademark Symbol to guide you is a failsafe 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 Vegetarian Society’s Trademark approved wines, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, guaranteeing a product is 100% vegetarian.
Soft Drinks – Some canned Orange drinks use gelatine as a carrier for added Beta Caratine. (This would not appear on the ingredients panel).
Olives – The stuffed varieties filled with garlic or sundried tomatoes can be favourites, but check you haven’t got anchovies in them. Vegetarians don’t eat fish!
Chips Often use whey as a flavour carrier, ready salted are the only clearly vegetarian flavour, though some others are flavoured with yeast extract and are therefore suitable.
Chocolate – Watch out for whey and emulsifiers.
Vegetables- Roast potatoes and kumara should be cooked separately from the meat and in vegetable fat or oil.
Gravy – Vegetarian gravy mixes are readily available. Check labels as some commercially available stuffing mixes are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Mince Pies – Check labelling carefully and ask for an ingredients list in bakeries if you’re tempted by theirs. The main issue is the pastry, rather than the filling, so consider making your own pastry at home to avoid that concern.
Trifle Jelly – You can make jelly for your trifle using vegetarian jelly crystals, but as below for the glacé cherries, look out for the source of the colouring if using raspberry jelly.
Glacé Cherries – check when you buy your glacé cherries that they don’t contain cochineal (E120), made from crushed insects