My friend Kerry McCarthy is raw vegan – so that’s no meat, no fish, no dairy and everything you do eat is uncooked.
Can you imagine how tricky the traditional Christmas dinner is for her?
Here’s what she says she has for a proper raw vegan Christmas dinner – it’s healthy and impressively cheap!
“Most of the year, you can get away with being vegan. Maybe there’s the odd raised eyebrow or parental chirrup of “You’re not allowed that are you?” as a plate of food is snatched away, but most of the year, it can pass relatively unnoticed.
Unfortunately, the combination of enforced gatherings and mandatory eating at Christmas, always seems to lead rather ineluctably to the culinary outing of, “No thanks, I’m vegan.”Just typing that line puts me in mind of the expression it brought to my father’s face when I made the shrill confession all those years ago – he looked like he’d witnessed a war crime.
Since then though, my parents have not only come to tolerate and indulge me on this, they’ve actually started cutting down their own intake of animal products! People really are coming round to the idea that a plant based diet is healthier, and for those of an entrepreneurial persuasion, where better to start with wealth, than with health? It’s not an original thought, but one worth repeating – if you want to make money, your own health is the strongest foundation you can possibly invest in.
So whilst I’ve spent the past 15 Christmases simply eating the same Christmas dinner as everyone else but without the meat – this year, I actually want to make something that other people can try too if they fancy it. And it’s not just so I can share the healthy recipes, but also the fact that I think it will counteract the “ghost at the feast” vibe of the Christmas vegan. Ironically enough, it turns out, no one likes a martyr during the festive season.
Because I actually go one further in my sickening quest to thrive, and try to eat a largely raw vegan diet, I’ve got two recipe ideas here that are…largely raw, and I think, inexpensive.
We’ll start with the Christmas pudding – it’s basically dates and nuts. Seriously, that’s it –
1. Blend a cup of brazil nuts with 2 cups of dates
2. Add in any other things you fancy; a handful of dried cherries, some brandy, some cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest
3. Blend the ingredients, press into a pudding shaped mould or fashion into smaller puddings yourself, and that’s it.
You don’t even need to chill this if you don’t have time – it works incredibly well, because after all Christmas puddings are mainly dried fruit anyway.
There’s a grim inevitability about a nut roast at Christmas, but then there’s a grim inevitability about everything at Christmas, so I’m rolling with it, I’m afraid. A nut roast works well because it’s a bit like meat so you can have all the trimmings everyone else, where you wouldn’t be able to if you made yourself something totally different like a salad or rice dish.
My favourite nut roast recipe comes from www.thefullhelping.com, and consists of simple, raw ingredients, which means you could cook it the raw way – in a dehydrator (Google it!), if you don’t want to cook it in the oven, because the latter, like, totally kills the enzymes, man.
1. You blend two cups of nuts with a couple of dates, half a pepper, a handful of sun-dried tomatoes, some lemon juice and spices.
2. Then roughly blend two cups of mushrooms with two sticks of celery, before combining everything together and kneading into a loaf.
3. Put this into a shallow loaf tin and cook in a medium oven for about half an hour, or until it seems done basically. If you’re using a dehydrator (cover your eyes non-raw vegans, this sounds crazy) leave it in there for about 8 hours.
4. For flavour, it really makes a difference if you marinate the mushrooms in a bit of olive oil and soy sauce for an hour or two – just make sure you drain well before processing.
If you were going to go mad with the raw theme and forgo the staple trimmings, you could opt for some raw carrots, and replace roast potatoes with sliced jicama in an olive oil and balsamic dressing. Be careful with that though – my last jicama cost me £5! For a raw version of brussel sprouts, I suggest shredding some kale, and wilting it by massaging in some lemon juice, avocado and salt – this recreates a cooked green kind of vibe.
Price-wise the Christmas pudding comes in at £2 for the basic date-nut mixture which will serve 4 to 5 people. The final price will obviously depend on what you choose to add, and I think the joy of this recipe, is that it works as it is or you can make it your own with whatever spices, dried fruit and booze you like most. And you get the kudos for having made it yourself of course – despite being so simple, this recipe really does impress people.
The nut roast Tim and I made for the video below, cost about £5.30 in total and this would serve four to five people, so that’s pretty reasonable compared to the traditional turkey.
Why a raw vegan christmas?
“But why, Kerry, why must you insist on this way of eating at Christmas? Lighten up a little, would you? Can’t you have ONE day off a year?” When one or other parent says this to me, at some point during Christmas day I normally ask if they’ve actually insisted on paying for everything again this year. “Why don’t you just nick the odd thing or two, after all it is Christmas! I mean really, Mum, must you live quite so relentlessly in the stifling pen of morality?” ”
She has also done a video for us to show how to make some of the key items: