Festive favourites: Holiday recipes from the staff of the Vancouver Humane Society

Festive favourites: Holiday recipes from the staff of the Vancouver Humane Society

Want to add more plant-based foods into your holidays but not sure where to start? Or maybe you want some new recipes to add to your yearly traditions? The staff of the Vancouver Humane Society share our favourite plant-based winter and holiday recipes for those chilly days and festive feasts. We hope you enjoy, and from our team to yours, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Classic tomato soup:

Chantelle: After scouring the internet for the best tomato soup recipes, I finally made my own version that is bursting with flavour and totally vegan-friendly! I love putting this recipe together on a weeknight and then using the leftovers to have with plant-based grilled cheeses for a couple days. For the grilled cheese, I prefer either Daiya cheddar flavour slices or Chao tomato cayenne. It’s the perfect recipe to warm me up on those cold winter nights.

Sugar cookies:

Emily: Sugar cookies are a staple of the holiday season for me. This sweet little treat is a real crowd pleaser!

Anamalai hot chocolate:

Ishtmeet: The holidays look different for my family every year, with us sometimes being on opposite sides of the world. One thing that has remained constant throughout the years is our Home Alone movie marathon (only the first two because we all know those are the best ones) accompanied by hot chocolate. What began as a simple premade mix when I was younger has evolved into a pursuit for making the most delicious, leveled up version of a childhood classic. Good quality cacao powder makes all the difference in this hot chocolate recipe, with some spices for added warmth and a flavour boost. We love to use oat milk and top it off with coco whip (from the can, of course) or vegan mini marshmallows.

Pro-tip: to keep the coco whip from melting right away, add a layer of vegan mini marshmallows first! 

Trifle:

Katrina: Growing up my mom would make a trifle on Christmas Eve that we would eat for breakfast on Christmas morning to kick off a sugar-fueled day of fun! This vegan version from School Night Vegan is a very similar to what my mom would make – festive and delicious!

Tourtière with Mushroom Gravy:

Brooklyn: I’ve made this tourtière for the past several years on Réveillon (December 24th) and serve with a generous portion of my spouse’s gravy recipe. The gravy works beautifully and tastes incredible.

Homemade vegan Baileys:

Sareeta: One of my favourite recipes is this homemade vegan Baileys, made with Jameson Irish whiskey. It’s delicious in coffee and hot chocolate. I drank it a lot during the height of the pandemic!

Chocolate peanut butter balls:

Amy: These chocolate peanut butter are a good replacement for peanut butter cups. They’re yummy and easy to make!

Finnish Pulla:

Heather: I love this vegan Pulla recipe from Philosophy and Cake. My background is partly Finnish so it was a tradition in my family to eat Pulla, which is a Finnish cardamom braided bread, around the holiday season each year. It was something I greatly missed after I went vegan, so I was extremely excited to find a recipe to make it myself. This recipe doesn’t disappoint and tastes just like the non-plant-based version. It uses mashed banana to bind and I loved trying to braid bread since I’d never done that before.  I’ve only made it once since it does take some time to make, but if you want a fun baking challenge (or maybe you’re already a baking pro and this is a walk in a park for you!) and want to try a traditional bread that’s soft and sweet, try it out.

Looking for more delicious plant-based recipes?

Go to our recipe library!

Check out PlantUniversity’s original recipe library for more delicious plant-based meal and snack ideas.

How I navigate Lunar New Year as a vegan

How I navigate Lunar New Year as a vegan

Featured author: Katie Mai

As we approach Lunar New Year, over one billion people around the world will be coming together with loved ones to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit! The festivities bring with them an array of delicious, fragrant and colourful dishes, shared and enjoyed family-style at the dinner table, and offered to our late ancestors with respect.

However, for those of us who have chosen to eat more plant-based foods or live a plant-based lifestyle, these gatherings can be a source of stress as many traditional dishes and customs revolve around the use of animal products. But fear not! It is entirely possible to fully embrace the spirit of the festival without contributing to animal suffering or environmental destruction.

Cultural Perspectives on Veganism

 “Veganism” is often criticized as being appropriative, expensive and even elitist. While veganism in the West is relatively new, there is a long history of plant-based eating in China, tracing back to 770 B.C. and even earlier in other Eastern societies. Vegan philosophy originates from Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, where food is closely intertwined with spirituality, medicine, and principles of moral virtue. Abstinence from animal consumption is considered purifying to both the mind and body

Statue of the Buddha.

Growing up in the Chinese diaspora in Canada, I have come to realize that the realities of my parents’ generation and mine are vastly different. My elders and relatives, due to famine and poverty in China, often did not have enough to eat. To greet one another, we ask, “Have you eaten yet?” which has become shorthand for “How are you?” Animals were a source of compact nutrition in an environment of scarcity and only eaten on special occasions, such as on Lunar New Year.

Because of their struggle, I now have the privilege of access to a whole foods, plant-based diet that is nutritionally complete and delicious. I am grateful to have the option to make this choice, however this doesn’t come without challenges at the dinner table where my views often clash with those in my family and community.

Tips for Navigating Lunar New Year Celebrations

Emphasize textures in your cooking. It is the textures and flavours that make food taste like food. While a lot of people eat animal-based foods for their texture, we can easily replicate tenderness, crispiness, and crunchiness from plants. For example, replace meat dumpling filling with textured vegetable protein or shredded tofu and jicama, and use a flax egg (1:3 flax meal and water) to bind.

Embrace the flavour of the plant ingredient in its whole! You can use mock meats in your dishes, but can take the deliciousness to the next level using whole plant foods as well. One of my favourite dishes is “Buddha’s Delight” – a truly delightful stir fry of mushrooms, wood ears, bean curd, carrots, glass noodles, and other vegetables. The dish brings out the unique flavour of each ingredient and is not masquerading as a meat dish. For dessert, make steamed red bean glutinous rice cake, or sticky rice balls with black sesame filling.

spoon holding up a sticky rice ball with black sesame filling with a red background.

Be mindful of hidden non-vegan ingredients. Oyster sauce, fish sauce, and egg noodles are often found in traditional dishes. Check the ingredients before consuming or cooking with them.

Inviting open dialogue around a feast of traditional dishes – made vegan – is a respectful way to educate, spark conversation and understanding.

Closing thoughts

Our actions and choices have the power to either harm or heal. They impact not only our personal health, but the well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants. We can honour our cultural traditions whilst honouring our values and the rights of all beings. With the New Year comes a new opportunity to take steps towards a brighter and more compassionate future.

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Tips for making your holidays plant-based

Tips for making your holidays plant-based

Holidays provide a special opportunity to try out new plant-based traditions, adapt your favourites, or continue ones that have been in your family for a long time. Keep reading for tips and suggestions from Plant University volunteers and supporters on how to make your holiday deliciously plant-based.

Submissions have been edited for grammar and clarity.


The holidays are full of good food which can all be made compassionately. We start with baking and decorating holiday cookies and sweet treats to share. Our new neighbours are Italian, so this year we found a delicious vegan biscotti and almond cookie recipe to make for them. We also have a few traditions for our Christmas meals. My daughter makes the best vegan cinnamon rolls – the recipe was adopted from our favourite local plant-based bakery To Live For. They are accompanied with a berry platter recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi I vegan-ized by substituting labneh for Yoggu plant-based yogurt.
 
Our Christmas day dinner is completely plant-based. Guests bring a plant-based dish to share so the menu changes every year, but some consistent dishes we serve are puffed pastry filled with mushrooms, lentils, and onions and broccoli, cannelini beans, and vegan cheese for the kids version. We also have mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts with cranberry and walnuts,  green beans with lemons, and dinner rolls. 
 
Plant-based meals can be intimidating at first but once you break it down, they can be completely nourishing, fulfilling, simple, leaving your belly and your heart full.  
Teresa
For the holidays, I try to appeal to everyone’s dietary restrictions and preferences while keeping everything cruelty free. Beyond beef is a great substitute for ground beef – it’s made with pea protein, has no soy, gluten, GMOs, and is even kosher! I like to make a variety of dishes with it like cabbage rolls, meatballs, lasagna, and meatloaf. For dairy, it’s very easy to swap your favourite recipes with vegan butter and oat milk. Veggie and fruit trays are also a great snack or appetizer that many people can enjoy. Happy holiday hosting!
Monica Hiller
You can be really creative with food during the holidays. I love helping my family make their favourite recipes like hamburgers and enchiladas with plant-based products like Yves. Chips and guacamole are a great snack to bring family together. My family also really likes making tacos as they’re very easy to make plant-based. We replace the meat with foods such as beans, tofu, vegan chorizo with cilantro and tomato sauce – delicious!
Brian J
I make roasted potatoes with rosemary and balsamic vinegar, Gardein stuffed not turkey, vegan gravy, Brussels sprouts, and carrots, and yorkshire pudding made with plant-based milk and egg substitute.
Sue McCaskill
I like The Very Good Butchers Stuffed Beast, mashed potatoes, roasted carrots and Brussels sprouts. Oh, and vegan gravy and whole cranberries.
Phylis Brown
I make a big vegan dinner and try at least one new recipe every year. I make vegan desserts and hot chocolate too! My fave roast to make is the Tofurky ham roast! But I don’t like the ale glaze it comes with so I make my own glaze with maple syrup, cinnamon, and brown sugar!
Melissa Viau
Slowly & gently melt 3 Lindt 90% chocolate bars (broken into pieces) in top of a double boiler: stir in rough-chopped pistachio nuts, dried cranberries, and a bunch of fresh orange zest: spread mixture on a non-stick cookie sheet: press flat, cool until set. Break it up. This is called holiday bark. What’s not to love!
Susan J Broatch
We have plant-based ‘eggnog’, all the trimmings, just no turkey. We don’t miss a thing!
Jill Sonia
I make beet wellington instead of turkey.
Kpswebster

Bonus tip: Wanting to take your plant-based holiday to the next level? Consider donating to a vegan or animal organization – you can even do so as a gift for a loved one!

For more plant-based holiday inspiration, check out this episode of the Vancouver Humane Society’s podcast, The Informed Animal Ally, about adapting to the holidays as a vegan!

Podcast: Adapting to the holidays as a vegan

Go to our recipe library!

Check out PlantUniversity’s original recipe library for more delicious plant-based meal and snack ideas.

Plant-based winter desserts for your humane holiday

Plant-based winter desserts for your humane holiday

Food is a highlight for many families celebrating holidays, and especially during the December holiday season. Now, with so many plant-based recipe variations for your favourite holiday dessert, it is easier than ever to have a plant-based holiday season. Here are a few of our favourite plant-based holiday recipes. Try one (or a couple) the next holiday season!

Apple crumble tart:

Baking with apples is always so delicious – and makes your home smell amazing too! This recipe is filled with decadent ingredients like pecans, maple syrup and holiday spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. In the link below, there is also a handy video you can follow along that shows you how to make the tart.

Tip: Using a food processor is recommended for making the crust.

Sugar cookies:

For some, sugar cookies are a classic holiday cookie – they are simple, yummy and melt in your mouth. This holiday, try out a new plant-based version of this classic. Bonus: These cookies are also gluten free and grain free.

Tip: Use festive cookie cutters!

Blintzes:

Surprise your guests this season with these tofu filled blintzes! They are sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Tip: For a healthier blintz, this recipe suggests to leave out sautéing at the end. Mix it up by replacing the blueberries with strawberries, peaches, mango, or your favourite fruit.

Rugelach:

You can whip this recipe up in under 30 minutes! Instead of making your own pastry, this recipe suggests looking for a puff pastry in your grocery store – many are plant-based! This will save you a lot of time this holiday season and we guarantee, it will still be delicious.

Tip: These can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months in an airtight container.

Sweet potato pie:

One word: Yum. This pie is mouthwatering, oh-so-flavorful, with a thick consistency because of delicious coconut cream. If you are feeling adventurous, try making your own pie crust too (find a recipe for a plant-based pie crust in the link below).

Tip: Read about some of the nutritional benefits of eating sweet potatoes in the recipe link!

Mochi:

These sweet red bean filled mochi are deliciously sweet and chewy. This recipe makes 8 mochi for you to share over the holiday season.

Tip: Want more intense flavor? This recipe suggests using molasses instead of brown sugar to make the dough. Yum!

Nanaimo bars:

A B.C. fav, you cannot go wrong with serving Nanaimo bars over the holidays, especially these plant-based and gluten-free ones! Everyone will be asking you what the delicious filling is made with! Check out the recipe to see what the secret filling ingredient is.

What makes these bars even better? This recipe includes no powdered or white sugar!

Looking for more delicious plant-based recipes?

Go to our recipe library!

Check out PlantUniversity’s original recipe library for more delicious plant-based meal and snack ideas.

Vegan Halloween treats for your humane holiday

Vegan Halloween treats for your humane holiday

A tray of candy apples drying

Most traditional Halloween candies and chocolates have animal-based ingredients like dairy and gelatin, but eating plant-based doesn’t mean you have to lose your holiday sweet tooth! These tasty vegan Halloween treats are easy to make and enjoy at home.

Vegan Caramel Apples

Vegan caramel apple treats for Halloween

Caramel apples are a classic Halloween treat! This plant-based version uses just five ingredients for the homemade caramel topping and comes together in 20 minutes.

Tip: If you don’t have cream of tartar on hand, this recipe suggests that you can swap it out for lemon juice.

Vegan Caramel Dipping Sauce

Vegan caramel dipping sauce

Looking for an even quicker snack? Try this five-minute caramel dipping sauce for your apple slices. One reviewer raves: “So I just tried this with some Granny Smith apples and it is AMAZING! We topped it off with pecans. It’s nice, rich, and sweet but not overly sweet. This is my new sub for ice cream and all things fruit!”

Vegan Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Vegan pumpkin sugar cookies

These are my go-to recipe fall cookies, with or without the frosting! The recipe uses simple ingredients like canned pumpkin for the perfect cozy flavour and texture.

Tip: While pumpkin is the star of this recipe, you can also use it in lots more plant-based baking! Use 1/4 cup canned pumpkin in the place of 1 egg to keep your recipe moist and sweet.

Vegan Boo Bark

Vegan Halloween bark treat

This recipe uses dairy-free dark chocolate for a plant-based take on an easy classic. The recipe is super customizable, so you can swap out the cranberries and walnuts for your favourite healthy trail mix ingredients.

Vegan Halloween Cupcakes

Vegan Halloween cupcakes

This recipe uses a uses a versatile cupcake base topped with three unique designs to turn your kitchen into a monster mash! See the instructions to learn how to bake the cupcakes and decorate a ghost, bat, and Frankenstein’s monster.

Looking for more delicious plant-based recipes?

Go to our recipe library!

Check out PlantUniversity’s original recipe library for more delicious plant-based meal and snack ideas.