The holidays are fast approaching, which means it’s time to start eating platefuls of delicious food with friends, family, and co-workers. But with more people adopting a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, what does this mean for traditional holiday dishes? We reached out to four of the city’s most well-known vegan hotspots, and asked them about their favourite holiday dishes for vegans and vegetarians.
Kristina Botelho, kb&co
“It’s so easy now to make vegan food and still make it taste good. It ‘s not hard like it was a few years ago,” notes Kristina Botelho, the owner and operator of kb&co.
“If I’m attending a party, I try to bring something that is relatable to what people are already eating, but just my own twist on it: here at the store, we make shortbread cookies with a spirulina icing and a vegan butter. And we make butter tarts and gingersnaps too.”
Maya Paramitha, Padmanadi Vegetarian Restaurant
“I think each family should know at least one or two vegan recipes that aren’t salads. Mashed potatoes, shepherd’s pie, mushroom gravy—dishes that are very simple and easily veganized,” says Maya Paramitha, manager of Padmanadi.
Paramitha notes that a lot of her staff struggle with the holiday season because they’re often the only vegan in their family. “But that one person is still a member of the family, so even if they want to bring something to the party that everybody can try, that can be good to show their family how easy it is. For example, Chinese people, we celebrate Chinese New Year, and for that we do hot pots. It’s like a holiday feast. And hot pots are a [celebratory] dish that are very easy to make vegan.”
Lawrence Bliss, Bliss Baked Goods
“We just introduced a new baklava that is made with agave syrup and a vegan butter,” says Lawrence Bliss, the owner of Bliss Baked Goods.
“So we’ll be making lots of that for people to pick up. And lots of cookies, squares, cakes, and donuts.”
For Channukah (or Hanukkah), another traditional holiday dish is latkes (potato pancakes), Bliss notes.
“Those have egg in them but we’ll probably make a vegan version for our customers this year as well.
“And then there’s our sufganiyah, which are a very special donut that we only make for Channukah. We’ll be making those starting on the 15th of the month and until the 25th.”
Michael Brennan, The Buckingham and Sailin’ On
“I used to be very hard-line when I first started going to family dinners as a vegan. I definitely went through my fair share of uncles giving me a hard time,” says Michael Brennan with a laugh. He’s the kitchen manager at The Buckingham and the owner of Sailin’ On. Now, Brennan says, he chooses his battles wisely for that one day of the year.
And what does he bring to the family feast?
“My go-to dish has always been a wild rice and pearl barley pilaf. Pretty much you just sauté some onions, throw in some wild rice and pearl barley, and cook it in some vegetable stock for about an hour. When it’s cooked, add some parsley, pomegranate, toasted pine nuts, and some lemon rind. It’s a festive colour, it’s simple, and it tastes great.”
“We also just did a Thanksgiving dinner here at The Buck where we made our own seitan turkey. And I’m a big fan of caramelized, roasted, Brussel sprouts. And stuffing is another great one; stuffing doesn’t need to be shoved inside a bird to be delicious.”