Christmas time is meat time. It’s time for pigs in blankets, goose, turkey, duck and multi-bird roasts, where different types of bird are stuffed inside a bigger one.
So you probably think vegans and vegetarians like me can feel a bit left out at this time of year, crying into our tofu.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Because there are plenty of places serving festive dishes which are strictly meat- and cruelty-free.
So stuff the turkey. Because you really don’t have to feel left out next time the meat comes round.
Make the meat-eaters jealous with the vibrant veggie and vegan options at Pho – the Vietnamese restaurant in The Corn Exchange. So much more exciting than the standard roast, you can eat vegan for two or three courses from the set Christmas Menu – just be sure to book in advance. There are meat options too, so it’s ideal for a mixed group. Vegan? Start off with their signature rice paper spring or summer rolls (How I remember it: Spring – crispy, Summer – delightfully squishy), follow with a big bowl of tofu and mushroom pho (that’s the national dish of Vietnam) and finish off with banana fritter and fruit sorbet. So much on the menu is gluten free too. Pho ho ho!
This award-winning underground Indian street food kitchen in Piccadilly Gardens is a real den of delights. Their entire menu is vegetarian – mostly vegan – and that includes the festive set menu – ‘Merry Desi Christmas’ – available for advance bookings of 6 people or more throughout December. Begin with starters to share including spicy nuts and okra fries, whilst for mains you can pick from brilliant Bundo chaat, sprout bhajis and festive curry. There’s even a dessert option of chestnut and orange peel ice cream, and this will be available on the specials board for smaller parties throughout the month, along with the sprout bhajis and festive curry. Everything here is vegan except the ice cream, which is vegetarian.
Nothing warms you up in the winter like flavoursome Thai food and there are a number of veggie and vegan-friendly options at Spinningfields Thai kitchen Thaikhun. They have a set Christmas Menu available at 2 courses for £16.95 and 3 courses for £19.95. The sweet potato and sweetcorn cake served with a sweet chilli sauce makes a seriously good vegan starter, while vegan mains include a brilliant broccoli, tofu and cashew nut stir fry and there’s a meat-free pad Thai too. With Thai sticky rice dessert for pudding, you’re on to a winner.
Albert Square Chop House
Gourmet pub food, proper portions and a separate vegan menu? Awesome. This historic pub and kitchen in the heart of Manchester is offering a ‘gastronomic voyage around the British Isles’ – with the chance to tuck into a meat-free 3-course meal. On the Vegan Christmas Menu you can enjoy the likes of Baked Mushroom Waldorf and ’Shepherdless Pie’ finished off with rice pudding & boozy dates. On the standard party menu they also have a number of vegetarian options including soup to start and a main of the intriguing Homity Pie filled with sautéed wild mushrooms, Jerusalem artichokes and Ribblesdale goats cheese. In fact, there is an array of veggie and vegan options across all three city centre Chop Houses.
One of the coolest places for Christmas food, surely? This historic gig venue is already known for the number of vegan options on its menus – and Christmas is no exception. They have festive banquet and 3 course sit-down meal options with vegan options from the Christmas dining menu including the likes of roasted winter squash soup for starters – or you can even enjoy some fat beets – with roasted rosemary and balsamic beetroot, creme fraiche and dill. There is a delicious nut roast for main and a proper vegan sticky toffee pudding for dessert. Serious comfort food.
This chilled-out bar and kitchen in the Northern Quarter is cooking up a vegetarian wellington as part of their Christmas menu. No, not a soggy boot but a seriously tasty pastry stuffed with pumpkin and beautiful beets. Bye bye gristly roasts, this is the way to go. The wellington can also be made vegan upon request and is served with meat-free gravy, broken potatoes, roasted roots, maple sprouts and bread sauce. Starters are also available including a vegan beetroot starter and veggie soup served with a rarebit sourdough crouton.
Head to this cosy Castlefield restaurant for an awesome vegan Christmas menu which combines the best flavours from across the globe. Start off in Italy with the heritage tomato bruschetta, then head on into the Orient with a main of Vegetable Choo Chee Curry – that’s an array of veggies in an aromatic chilli and coconut sauce, served with rice. Finish off with a vegan mulled orange and dark chocolate pud for dessert. Delicious. And a number of options on their Christmas party menu are vegetarian too.
Fancy some Lebanese this Christmas? Head to Bakchich close to Oxford Road Station, for a chance to tuck into an array of veggie and vegan delights. Let’s face it, everyone loves dips and nibbles at Christmas parties and Bakchich take it to the next level with the Mezze Platter starter on the Christmas Menu which includes hummus, salad and falafel. They also have a veggie and vegan-friendly Christmas main – Lebanese moussaka, traditional baked aubergine in tomato sauce. One to warm you up this winter, for sure.