Turkeys may be looking forward to the festive season with slightly less trepidation this year, as the number of people celebrating a meat free Christmas continues to grow. One in 12 of will be tucking into a veggie or vegan feast in a fortnight’s time, with almost one in five hosts cooking for a meat free eater.
According to research by Tesco, 18 per cent of British shoppers will be catering for a veggie or a vegan on the big day. Waterfowl will also breathe a sigh of relief to hear that environmentally friendly Christmas dinners are now more popular than goose, which is eaten by 4 per cent of people on December 25.
As a result, supermarkets are outdoing each other in a bid to win the custom of greener eaters. Since launching a range of vegan party food in October – including “beet wellington” and “butternut squash’age” rolls – Waitrose has seen sales climb by a fifth, and searches on its website for “Christmas vegan” have more than tripled since last year.
Iceland launched its own vegan range earlier this year, while Tesco stocks Beyond Meat and Vivera products. The UK’s largest supermarket saw an explosion in demand for its chilled and frozen vegan food last year – its Wicked Kitchen range is overseen by chef and MFM supporter Chad Sarno, who has contributed several recipes to our website – with sales growing by more than 50 per cent. Those seeking a deliciously planet-friendly Christmas Day meal can also turn to Marks & Spencer, which sells a Vegan Butternut, Almond & Pecan Nut Roast, and Morrisons, which is offering what it modestly calls “The Best Cranberry and Pistachio Nut Roast”, as well as pumpkin and sticky fruit festive stuffing and “veggies in blankets” – tomato, potato, mushroom and basil “sausages” wrapped in an aubergine blanket.
It is yet more confirmation that Britain is fast becoming a nation of meat reducers. Last month, a survey by Waitrose found a third of us are either cutting down on our meat intake or have ditched meat entirely. And whether that decision is made for environmental reasons, to improve health or protect animals, it cannot come a moment too soon, amid dire warnings that the planet is fast approaching a tipping point in the battle against climate change. Scientists have confirmed that eating less meat has a crucial role to play in that fight.
With such an embarrassment of culinary riches on offer, there should be something to suit all palates at a supermarket near you this December. Meat reducers may find their taste buds tantalised to such an extent that they carry on meat free munching into Veganuary and beyond. The only problem will be keeping the meat eaters away from your grub!
If you’re looking for ideas for Christmas, new year or any other day, check out our recipe pages.