Our Christmas dinner has changed since I first started the Flexitarian blog. A far cry from the meat feast we had only five years ago, this year again we will be having a flexitarian Christmas.
In many ways, there is no other time of the year that epitomises better the philosophy of eating less meat and better meat behind the flexitarian diet. While my own personal preference nowadays is mostly for vegetarian and vegan dishes, I know that, for the majority of our guests, Christmas simply would not be the same without turkey. As everyone gathers around our table, catering for different diets can be challenging and, yes, it does require a little bit more planning and work.
Here are my top tips on how to have the perfect flexitarian Christmas with some veg-centric festivities:
- Plan vegan or vegetarian appetisers and nibbles. With a full dinner afterwards, lighter meat-free appetisers are often preferred to sausages, smoked salmon or ham anyway.
- Choose a small turkey or ham, which you know has been raised to high welfare standards, from an organic farm. Provenance rather than size is key. The meat will be so much tastier than cheaper supermarket options.
- Skip the meat-based trimmings and serve extra vegetables instead.
- Prepare a meat-free centerpiece to suit your vegetarian or vegan family members. This can easily replace stuffing for anyone who prefers eating turkey.
- Be inventive with your vegetables dishes and make them interesting. No one gets excited about boiled Brussels sprouts. Roast them instead! Add a little thyme and organic cream to steamed carrots.
- A festive salad filled with fresh produce, nuts and seeds is always a welcome addition.
- Rethink your cheeseboard and delight your guests with a selection of organic dairy and vegan cheeses.
As we embarked on our flexitarian journey, choosing organic has been paramount. Organic farmers ensure that animals get plenty of space and outdoor time but also are fed proper GM-free food. Routine antibiotics are also forbidden. Organic food is not only better for our health, the environment and animal welfare, it also tastes better as it is free of additives. The animals have been able to enjoy roaming in the fresh air.
To keep organised before the Christmas madness starts, I like ordering an organic vegetable box and turkey in advance. Last week, we were delighted to receive an organic Christmas box from Eversfield Organic Farm in Devon.
Our box included organic Christmas vegetables (potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage, swede, parsnips, onions and garlic) alongside a selection of organic cheeses, olives, chutneys, crackers, pâté and charcuterie. To try it out, we had a little pre-Christmas feast. The vegetables were really fresh, while the creamy organic cheeses certainly had a lot of character. The vegetarian chestnut mushroom pâté, olives and crackers made scrumptious vegetarian nibbles.
I hate waste and I am glad everything was suitably packaged. All the vegetables came in paper bags. Recyclable ice packs enable the chilled food to be kept cold for transport. I was able to recycle or reuse all the packaging. I even left the insulating wool layers in the garden for the wildlife to enjoy.
Eversfield Organic was awarded organic status in 2004 after its new owner Mark spent 2 years planting trees and regenerating the soil impoverished by years of intensive farming. Working with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, Mark began rearing his own herd of native Aberdeen Angus cattle, fed on a 100% pasture diet. This means animals feed on grasses and wildflowers alone, never grain. Mark also introduced a flock of grass-fed sheep to keep the meadows mown, and organic pigs were kept busy clearing scrub from the farm’s woodland.
Eversfield Organic offers a selection of organic bronze and organic Norfolk black turkeys. The bronze turkeys are slow-grown over several months and carefully reared on the Malseed family farm on lush Dartmoor pasture, using traditional farming methods. They are fed a healthy diet consisting of organic cereals and natural ingredients with no additives or growth promoters, then finished on local oats to provide an excellent taste and marbling.
Eversfield Organic’s Norfolk black turkeys are sourced from a local Devon organic farm producer. They enjoy a wholesome organic diet from cereals grown on the farm and forage on acorns, stinging nettles, docks, windfall apples and blackberries. They are free to fly, perch and potter around the stunning surrounding fields.
In addition to the organic vegetable boxes and turkeys, Eversfield Organic has also a good selection of Christmas hampers filled with organic and artisanal morsels from the finest organic producers from the South West and beyond. They make perfect gifts for foodies.
The Eversfield Organic Christmas Shop is available online at www.eversfieldorganic.co.uk.