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The Five Holiday Landmines, Part Two

Yesterday, Almost Vegetarian treated us to part one of her guest post “The Five Holiday Landmines for the Vegetarian,” and as promised, now for part two. Enjoy!

The Five Holiday Landmines for the Vegetarian, Part Two
By Almost Vegetarian

3. Stuff this.

Ah, stuffing…how we love you, and what a treacherous little dish you can be.

Treacherous because minced meat can easily hide among the other ingredients. So your only choice is to ask what’s in there, as in “That looks gorgeous! What’s in it?” If it has meat, then you don’t have it.

And treacherous because even if the stuffing is vegetarian, it can be cooked inside the bird. In this case, go for the stuffing cooked outside the bird (you can usually tell the difference—the stuffing cooked outside tends to be drier, with a crispy topping).

4. Goodbye gravity.

If your host serves a Jell-O mold, obviously you are in trouble. Jell-O is, of course, the classic home of gelatin. But what you might not know is that gelatin shows up in all sorts of less predictable places. Like that elegant panna cotta (an Italian pudding). And the blancmange. And the gelee. In fact, odds are that any dessert that seems to defy gravity does so with the help of gelatin.

But it is the desserts that are not so readily identified as a home to gelatin that are a real problem. Because what you might not know is that gelatin can be slipped into everything from flans to tarts.

Once again, ask. “Is it gelatin that gives that its wonderful shape?” If the answer is “yes,” then, of course, pass. And reach, instead, for something safe. Like fruit salad. But if you eat dairy and you were thinking of putting a good dollop of whipped cream on top, make sure it is made with pure cream, because the store-bought stuff likely has gelatin too.

5. Lurking lard.

Look at that apple pie! Thank goodness! You know that one does not commonly put gelatin in an apple pie. So you are safe. And you are all ready to dig in when—wait! Here comes super me, and I am about to say the one word you do not want to hear: lard.

Lurking, hidden and unsuspected, in that pie crust may be a big helping of lard. And you do not want to eat that. But here’s the tricky part. Unless your host made that pie from scratch, he or she might not even know it’s in there.

If it is a store-bought pie, you can probably assume it has lard, so I’d pass. Even if just the pie crust is store bought, it, too, probably has lard and should be avoided.

But even a homemade pie crust could have lard. It depends on the recipe your host used. So you’ll just have to ask.

Of course, to be perfectly safe, you might want to reach, instead, for a nice piece of fruit. Your waistline will thank you. Your heart will thank you. And your animal friends will thank you, making this a lovely holiday for all.

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  • Dan Joseph says:

    While I don’t disagree with any of the pointers in this article ‘holiday landmines’; I do feel that you stand a much greater chance of having a happy christmas dinner (guests and hosts alike) if you are a bit more proactive in dealing with it. Cooking a meat based Christmas dinner is a hard job; and cooking something separate just makes even more work and washing up. My advice? 1) Let them know well in advance that you are a veggie, so you have a chance to talk about what you do and don’t eat in a more casual manner. 2) Offer to help (an extra pair of hands is always helpful) 3) Take some time to plan with your host how to cook the things they expect to serve, like pastry & spuds in a veggie friendly way. Above all use it as a way of bringing folk together – “It’ll be fun cooking it together” “It’ll make it a bit easier for you with me helping” should be the approach to take. If someone has gone to the trouble of cooking a meal, then being the fussy veggie on Christmas Day who didn’t eat anything is not going to warm you into anyone’s hearts. Being Veggie is a Choice. We have to choose to help those of our friends & families who still eat meat how we can all sit down at the same table.

    Have a very happy (& meat free) Christmas

  • Eva says:

    Pardon my ignorance, but through my new quest in life, I need to know…

    Gelatin is somehow related to meat ? Huh, someone explain please.

  • Hyl Adams says:

    That’s why you always take your own plate! And share! And bask in the glory when people say with surprise, “This tastes better than the real thing!”

  • Kelsey says:

    Before you skip out on apple pie know that, fortunately, Mrs. Smith makes a frozen vegan apple pie and pie crust! Pillsbury and Sara Lee (I believe) have vegan pie crusts, too! 🙂