21 Dec 2018

NZers turn to plant power to fill the Christmas table

3:14 pm on 21 December 2018

Move over Christmas ham and mince pies, here come Christmas tofu and lentils.

Christmas dinner.

Christmas dinner. Photo: 123rf.com

More and more New Zealanders are turning to plant power to fill the Christmas table.

The number of us Google-searching vegan Christmas dinner recipes each November/December has doubled since 2004 and Foodstuffs said they are seeing "extraordinary growth" in their vegan food category.

Neil Thomas, the owner of Auckland grocery store Naturally Organic, is helping cater to the crowds with products like dairy-free advent calendars and egg-free fruit cake - and he said it isn't just vegans themselves who are buying up.

"Customers can come in here and say 'look, we've got Christmas dinner and we've got two vegans coming - what do I do?'" he said.

One option he suggests is a vegan Celebration Roast, which the store sells quite a few of every day, along with "hundreds and hundreds" of cans of jackfruit which can be used as a substitute to pulled pork.

In the United States it's a tofu-based roast turkey substitute called Tofurkey that is top on the list of vegan Christmas shoppers.

Tofurkey first hit the market in 1980 and this year the company sold their five millionth roast.

But SAFE spokesperson Krista Neve prefers whipping up her vegan roasts from scratch - and even put on a completely plant-based Christmas for her family last year.

She said her go-to is mushroom and leek stuffing inside a seitan roast roll. For desert: chickpea pavlova.

"If you buy a can of chickpeas in brine, you tip the chickpeas out and the liquid that's left over is the aquafaba," she explained.

"Basically you chill it and you whip it and it goes exactly like egg white and form stiff peaks. So you make a pavlova vegan just as you would make it with egg white."

Ms Neve said she would encourage anyone to give vegan Christmas recipes a go.

She said it's always surprising how many foods on the supermarket shelf are "accidentally vegan" - from crackers and dips to chocolate treats.

"It's easier than you think."