Plant-Based Comfort Food and Holiday Traditions

Plant-Based Comfort Food and Holiday Traditions

One of the biggest hurdles people face when going vegan is missing out on all the comfort foods they’ve grown to know and love. Food plays a such an important role in culture; thinking you may have to miss out on not only the delicious food but the social interaction and celebrations surrounding traditional holidays can feel like an impossible barrier to overcome.

Comfort food and traditional dishes can be tough to give up not only because they taste good but because of the expectation from family and friends for you to indulge with them. Parting with the foods you’ve eaten your entire life can feel like deprivation and restriction if you’re not aware of the alternative options.

You don’t need to miss out! Every comfort food you’ve ever eaten can be veganised; there is a plant-based alternative for everything you can think of. Whether it’s a traditional holiday dish like pancakes on pancake day, or comfort food like pizza and fries, this is a guide to plant-based comfort food and recipes for the holiday seasons.

Plant-Based Comfort Food and Holiday Traditions

Traditional Holiday Food

Birthday Cake

Is it really a birthday without birthday cake? 'Vegan cake' has an undeserved reputation for being dry, tasteless, and unappealing; people claim to know the difference just by looking at it and refuse to go anywhere near it. My advice is not to tell people when you’re offering them a plant-based cake and they won’t know (despite what they’ll try to tell you afterwards). The best cake for any and all occasions is the Minimalist's Baker One Bowl Chocolate Cake, no one will notice and they'll all love it.

Pancake Day

Shrove Tuesday is a day of feasting celebrated by eating pancakes. Pancakes were originally made using “peasant food leftovers” to create a sweet batter cooked on a griddle. English pancakes are traditionally made using flour, eggs, and milk but it’s just as easy to make them vegan. Personally I prefer them small and fluffy as opposed to the flat, thin English variety but you can make them any way you want by using a nut milk instead of dairy and swapping eggs for baking powder or banana.

·   Genius Kitchen 5-Minute Pancakes
·   Minimalist Baker Whole-Grain Pancakes

The Sunday Roast

The traditional Sunday Roast typically centres around a meat of choice, everything else becomes a supporting role to the main event, which proves giving up this tradition a huge hurdle to overcome. If you are a meat-lover trying to switch to a plant-based lifestyle, there are meat substitutes available but know now that it’s impossible to replace the taste and texture of meat with processed alternatives. You’re better off making the best plant-based dish you possibly can than try to substitute a roasted chicken or leg of lamb with a Tofurky bake.

·   Wallflower Kitchen Lentil Roast with Balsamic Onion Gravy
·   Delicious Everyday Mushroom Wellington
·   A Virtual Vegan Portobello Pot Roast
·   Deliciously Ella Nut Roast

Easter Eggs

Easter is a peculiar tradition; an egg-laying hare delivers sweet treats in the form of chocolate eggs from a basket (or lays them in decorated nests) to children who have been good. Easter egg hunts and egg rolling also take place around Easter but despite tenuous links to symbolism, no one really knows how or when the myth of the Easter bunny was originated. There are plenty of non-dairy Easter treats to be had in the form of traditional chocolate eggs and edible bunnies so your Easter basket doesn’t have to stay empty.

·   Hotel Chocolat Vegan Easter Eggs
·   Booja Booja Easter Collection
·   Lindt Dark Chocolate Easter Bunny

Christmas Dinner

What goes on your Christmas plate can be a highly controversial conversation; while the majority of Christmas dinner is plant-based, there are a few components that are typically made with non-vegan ingredients. However, everything from the Yorkshire Puddings to the Christmas Cake can be very easily veganised so you don’t have to miss out on any trimmings. Lots of supermarkets offer accidentally vegan pre-made Christmas foods and meat alternatives (check the ingredients, they’re not always labelled vegan), or you can make them yourself using the following recipes:

·   Christmas Cake
·   Christmas Pudding
·   Mince Pies
·   Yorkshire Puddings
·   Toad-in-the-Hole
·   Mushroom Wellington

Plant-Based Comfort Food and Holiday Traditions

Comfort Food

The Full English Breakfast

There’s nothing like big breakfasts and lazy weekends. Despite the Full English Breakfast traditionally being laden with animal products: eggs, sausages, bacon, and black pudding; it’s also very easy to make it vegan-friendly. Eggs can be replaced with tofu scramble, meat sausages can be replaced with plant-based sausages, and even the bacon can be substituted.

·   Tofu Scramble
·   Streaky Rashers (or make your own)
·   Farmhouse Sausages
·   Black Pudding

Fish and Chips

Chippy tea night is such a tradition in British culture; it’s the Friday night family treat traditionally served with battered cod, a pile of chips, tartar sauce, and mushy peas. Plenty of restaurants are catching onto the idea of vegan “fish” and chips like The Veggie Chippy in Birmingham. Use The Happy Cow or this list of the best vegan 'fish' and chip spots to search your area to find local restaurants near you. If you can’t find a local vegan chippy, you can make your own for 'chippy tea night’ - here are a couple of recipes to try:

·   Exceedingly Vegan 'Fish' and Chips
·   Veganuary Beer-Battered Tofu ‘Fish’ and Chips

Pie and Mash

One of the most comforting of all comfort foods is the humble pie and mash, it’s the ultimate comfort food for cold weather and long winter nights. Homemade pies always taste better than their pre-prepared counterparts; there’s nothing quite like a pie made from scratch in your own kitchen with warm, rich, and comforting ingredients. These are some of the best you can make:

·   Minimalist Baker 1-Hour Pot Pies
·   Oh My Veggies Mushroom Bourguigonne Pot Pie
·   The Kitchn Tofu and Vegetable Pot Pie

Tuna Mayonnaise

The comfort food of fillings; tuna may can be used as a sandwich spread, a topping for jacket potatoes, and in pasta salad. It seems like an impossible food to veganise but it isn’t, in fact, it’s unbelievably easy. Chickpeas serve as a great replacement for tuna, obviously it won’t taste fishy but if you throw in crushed nori it gets as close as it ever will and definitely has the same mouth-feel.

·   Swoontastic Basic Vegan ‘Tuna’ Mayo
·   Simple Veganista ‘Chickpea of the Sea’ Sandwich
·   Forks Over Knives “No Tuna” Salad Sandwich
·   Vegan Lovlie ‘Tuna’ Mayonnaise and Jacket Potato


The ultimate comfort food: pizza! Depending on your preferences, good pizza can be super easy or super hard to find. Most chains including Zizzi, Pizza Express, and The Stable, now offer vegan pizza options including take-out as do smaller independents, like Mr. Singh’s. If you prefer open fire pizza, finding a good one makes things a little trickier. The likelihood is your local artisan pizzeria will happily make you a pizza with all the toppings minus the cheese (and maybe you could encourage them to introduce a non-dairy option). Or, if nothing is quite hitting the spot, you could try to make your own pizza at home.


Doughnut Day is on 1st June but who needs an excuse to eat them? It sounds unlikely but vegan-friendly doughnuts are a thing and they taste amazing. All the major supermarkets offer own-brand vegan-friendly doughnuts (just remember to check the ingredients each time you buy!) But if you want to taste some extra special doughnuts, try your local independent bakers like these:

·   Crosstown Vegan Doughnuts

Plant-Based Comfort Food and Holiday Traditions

If you’re still struggling to replace your favourite comfort food and holiday dishes with plant-based alternatives, remember that it takes time to adjust to lifestyle changes; it's common to miss the meals you're most familiar with. Here are a few tips that will help make dealing with holiday traditions and comfort food easier.

Don't Think Of Plants-Based As A Substitute

It's common to consider plant-based foods as substitutes for their non-vegan alternatives but it's important to respect all food for what it is and not what it's being compared to. You're never going to replace the texture and taste of animal products; you might find tasty alternatives but if you're looking for a like-for-like replacement you're not going to find it. Comparing plant-based dishes to their animal-based alternatives isn't the right approach when switching to a vegan lifestyle and will make letting go of your favourite meals even harder.

Speak To Your Family and Friends

There is often pressure from family and friends to conform to tradition and indulge in familiar foods, which can make you feel you have no choice but to join in with shared meals. Explain why you’re choosing a vegan lifestyle and why it’s important you switch to a plant-based diet. It’s important to express your dedication and the convictions of your beliefs, doing so will help them understand how committed you are to changing your life and enable you to live your life in a way that promotes kindness and compassion, improves your health and reduces the impact you have on the environment.

Remember Your Reason Why

Why did you go vegan? Why do you want to live a plant-based lifestyle? Whether it’s for the animals, your health, or our shared planet; remembering your why can keep you motivated during the times you’re struggling with temptation. Reminding yourself (and others) of your intentions on a regular basis helps reinforce your new habits but also serves as a reminder to others about your choice to lead a plant-based lifestyle and it's not something you will compromise on.