Tips for making your holidays plant-based

Tips for making your holidays plant-based

The holiday season is approaching, and with that comes an 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 PlantUniversity 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.

I’m a home baker; here are my tips for vegan baking!

I’m a home baker; here are my tips for vegan baking!

A plant-based vanilla cupcake on a plate.

When I first went vegan, I spent a lot of time experimenting with new savoury recipes. The curries, chilis, pastas, sandwiches, salads, and other dishes I already loved tasted amazing with plant-based swaps! But there was one area that I was a little more hesitant: baking.

I have a major sweet tooth and have always loved baking. I even became known as the “cookie person” when I got together with loved ones for the holidays.

Fortunately, there are plenty of great vegan treat brands and “accidentally vegan” store-bought goods, from Maynards Fuzzy Peaches to Oreos; but for me, there is nothing quite like biting into a warm cookie fresh out of the oven. So I set out to hone my plant-based baking skills.

It didn’t take long! As it turns out, it’s very easy to make delicious plant-based treats. It might even be easier than baking with animal products—say goodbye to fiddling with eggshells in your batter! It wasn’t long before I was turning out quick desserts that were wowing even my non-vegan friends.

Here are some of my favourite ways to make non-vegan recipes plant-based.

The best non-dairy milk for baking

According to my research, the best non-dairy milk for baking is soy milk, followed by almond milk. If you bake a lot of treats with thin batters, like cakes, you might want to consider those as your top option.

A batch of chocolate chip cookies close up.

However, I mostly bake cookies with a thicker dough that only call for a couple tablespoons of milk. For recipes where your non-dairy milk is not going to be the star of the show, I’ve found it makes no difference to use whichever milk you prefer for your everyday use like sauces, coffee, or tea. When a recipe calls for dairy milk, I normally substitute 1:1 for an equal amount of oat milk.

The best plant-based butter for baking

There are so many great plant-based brands that make dairy-free butter. Here is the best side-by-side comparison I’ve found of the various vegan butters for baking cookies.

My personal favourite cost-effective butter substitution is Becel Vegan Margarine, which I’ve found works well in cookies, squares, and even buttercream.

A batch of vegan brownies cut into squares in a pan.

If you’re in a pinch, a neutral oil like vegetable oil or canola oil works just fine in cake recipes.

Applesauce can also be substituted for butter if you’re oil-free.

The best plant-based egg substitutes for baking

Replacing egg with flax egg

A flax egg is my go-to egg swap in cookie recipes. If a recipe calls for only one or two eggs, a flax egg works flawlessly. Watch the video below for instructions on making a flax egg or see the recipe here.

One thing to be cautious of is using flax eggs in recipes with 3-4 eggs or more. In egg-heavy recipes without other binding ingredients, the flax egg loses some of its power as a binding agent and can leave you with a dessert that doesn’t set properly. A store-bought substitute can work best in these cases.

Using Just Egg in baking

Store-bought egg substitutes like Just Egg are designed to mimic the fluffiness and binding properties that you would see from using an animal egg in baking.

A bottle of Just Egg vegan egg replacement on a muffin tin.

Bonus: When you’re done with your sweet recipe, they also work great in savoury dishes like plant-based omelettes.

Replacing egg with pumpkin or banana in baking

One egg can be replaced by ¼ cup pumpkin puree or mashed ripe banana (equal to about ½ a medium banana).

A bunch of overripe bananas on the counter.

Pumpkin and banana make baked goods dense and moist, making them perfect for breads and muffins. This replacement works especially well for recipes that naturally incorporate these flavours, like:

  • pumpkin cookies
  • pumpkin spice muffins
  • pumpkin cake
  • banana muffins
  • banana pancakes
  • banana bread

Replacing egg with tofu in baking

Silken tofu is an effective egg substitute in a wide range of recipes, including cakes, cookies, squares, and breads. Each egg can be replaced with ¼ cup pureed silken tofu.

Silken tofu can be used as an egg sustitute.

What to use instead of egg in meringue

For recipes that call for egg whites to be whipped into a meringue, aquafaba is a naturally effective plant-based substitute.

Aquafaba meringues from chickpea liquid.

Aquafaba refers to the liquid left over from cooked chickpeas. If you’re making a recipe with chickpeas like this scrumptious chickpea salad sandwich, chickpea tagine, or hummus, simply save the liquid from your canned chickpeas or the leftover cooking liquid from cooking dried and soaked chickpeas. The word can also refer to the meringue-like foam made by whipping this liquid.

To make aquafaba, whip the liquid saved from cooked or canned chickpeas for 3-6 minutes. Check out this step-by-step guide on making aquafaba.

The bottom line

There are so many easy plant-based substitutions for baking, and even more unique recipes to explore that are plant-based by default—like these tender and fragrant plant-based cranberry lemon yogurt muffins! Plant-based baking is a wonderful (and delicious) way to get creative in the kitchen.

What did you think of these plant-based substitutions for baking? Do you have a favourite that we missed? Find PlantUniversity’s posts at @vancouverhumane on Tiktok or Instagram and let us know your thoughts!

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Vegan winter desserts for your humane holiday

Vegan winter desserts for your humane holiday

As we move into the holiday season, food is a highlight for many. 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) this 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 vegan! 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 vegan 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 vegan 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.