Christmas lunch debate: Vegans vs Carnivores

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014
Illustration by Katrina Sum

For me, Christmas Day is just an excuse to eat as much ham as possible, while still leaving enough room to be able to eat leftover ham on toast for at least a week afterwards. This is a proud tradition passed down from generation to generation in our family (hamily?).

Last year my younger sister Kate made the decision to become vegan. She had been a vegetarian for about a year before that. We were pricks about it at first but gradually her vegan recipes improved and we all looked forward to the meat and dairy-free meals and treats Kate would spend hours cooking (or not cooking, as is the case with most raw vegan snacks). She even started a website for her recipes that explains why you should carefully avoid certain foods and try to seek out healthier ingredients. Where I once used to groan, I now proudly boast to my friends of my slightly healthier diet, thanks in no small part to my sister.

But Christmas is around the corner. That means we’ve gotta start thinking about Christmas Day lunch, and the proud ham eating family tradition that comes with it. In order to avoid an awkward confrontation at this year’s dinner table, I had a conversation with Kate about some potential vegan Christmas lunch dish alternatives that don’t suck.

Levins: Hey!

Kate: Haaai.

Levins: I was just thinking about Christmas lunch this year, should we cook three or four hams?

Kate: If by hams you mean salads, then four.

Levins: What, like a salad made up of different parts of ham?

Kate: No hams for me.

Levins: No hams? It’s Christmas! You can’t even spell Christmas without ham!

Kate: Lev, I was vegan last Christmas and I’m still vegan this Christmas. No ham, no bacon, no roast pork, no chicken, no duck, no turkey, no turducken.

Levins: What about presents? Do vegans still believe in presents?

Kate: YES. Remember last year you even got me a vegetarian cookbook?

Levins: I did? I’m the best! Were there any vegan substitutes for Christmas ham in there?

Kate: They suggest felafel!

Levins: As a replacement for ham? I don’t know if putting leftover felafel on toast for the fortnight following Christmas will be as life-changing as leftover Christmas ham.

Kate: How about a big roasted celeriac! You can still have it flavoured with herbs and salt, polka-dotted with cloves, layered with orange slices and glazed with syrup! I can even dye it pink with beetroot juice!

Levins: That actually sounds OK. The leftovers need to last us until at least Australia Day though. We’ll need a 15kg celeriac. Can we smoke it in the Weber? With pineapples and glacé cherries toothpicked to it?

Kate: Sure! Although no glacé cherries, they’re poisonous! They’re bleached in calcium chloride and sulfur dioxide.

Levins: I’m pretty sure calcium chloride and sulfur dioxide make up 50% of the spirit of Christmas. The other 50% is roast meat! How can we replace the roast chicken with stuffing? That’s a big one. I refuse to eat mock meat. This year I’m giving myself the same gift I give myself every year, and that’s the gift of never finding out what Quorn tastes like.

Kate: Uhhh, me too. All self-respecting vegans hate mock meat! What even is mycoprotein? If you like stuffing so much maybe we can make stuffed eggplant? With barley and herbs, garlic, lemons, pomegranate molasses?

Levins: Can we make the stuffing more Christmassy by throwing some sage in there?

Kate: Sage = Christmas.

Levins: OK cool! So roast celeriac, stuffed eggplants and… prawns! Vegans eat fish right? I’ll head to the fish markets now!

Kate. Woah, woah, wait, no. No we do not!

Levins: Not even if we dip them in our uncle’s famous cocktail sauce made out of mayonnaise, ketchup and bourbon?!

Kate: How about I make rice paper rolls instead?

Levins: I guess you put prawns in those sometimes.

Kate: Usually they’re filled with prawns, but we could make ours with summer fruitscucumber and avocado, mint and shiso leaves, pickled carrots with toasted sesame seeds.

Levins: Can we still dip them in cocktail sauce?

Kate: No mayo – although I actually have a cashew mayo recipe!

Levins: No thanks. We’ll just hold the mayo and dip them in ketchup and bourbon. That’s lunch sorted – now all we need is dessert! Let me guess – a raw fruit pudding? With a kale smoothie instead of custard?

Kate: We could make a whole tray of treats just like Grannie does each year. Bliss balls, chocolate slice, mini chia puddings, trufflesgingerbread men; all made vegan with thanks to non-dairy milk and chia seeds.

Levins: I’m kinda on board but good luck convincing Grannie.

Kate: It doesn’t all have to be vegan, we can have a mix of both. I just don’t want to be stuck eating just lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber slices.

Levins: Variety is the spice of life, that’s why I made Christmas crackers that are half vegan, half omnivore. Some have a raw mushroom inside and the others have a cold party pie.

Kate: Mum already bought christmas crackers filled with cheap plastic toys, paper hats and bad jokes. Don’t worry, plastic is vegan. Delicious plastic…

Levins: OK one last question. What do you want for christmas this year?

Kate: A dehydrator! Next year we’ll have an entirely RAW vegan Christmas.

Levins: As long as I can use it to make jerky for New Years, you’ve got a deal.

And with that, Christmas was saved. God bless us, everyone.

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