Here it is mid-December, and we are firmly in the holiday season. Regardless of your location, faith, or cultural traditions, most of us will be gathering with family at some point this month. As we here at Planetarian Life considered what we wanted our holidays to look like, it was important for us to celebrate in a way that made the season special and festive, included our family traditions, and aligned with our Planetarian values of reducing meat and dairy. Rather than getting sucked into the season’s stressful hustle and bustle, we wanted quality family time.
Rethinking the Way We Do Gifts
Ten years ago, we started a family tradition of gift-less Christmas, and we haven’t looked back. We still do gifts for the young kids, but not the adults. For us, this choice frees us from the stress and financial burden of giving gifts. More importantly, it frees up our time leading to the big day and gives us more quality time together on Christmas Day. On a recent podcast episode, we talked about gift-less holidays, alternatives to traditional gift buying, and sustainable wrapping options.
Preparing for Guests
For most of us, spending time with our loved ones is both the best part the holiday and can also be the most nerve-racking. Hosting, prepping, cooking, and the never ending clean up can keep us from fully enjoying the season. On our recent Christmas podcast, we each talk about how we get ready for the holidays in a way that keeps us sane. Pam sets the table early. Maggy likes to have breakfasts and lunches cooked ahead and ready to go. Laura likes her fridge stocked with Bases and Essentials. We also discuss the pros and cons of inviting guests into the prepping and cooking process, all of which reduces stress. Finally, we talk about how holidays can be a great forum for meaningful conversations about the changes we’re making for the good of the planet.
Planet-Friendly Holiday Dinner
Let’s talk about the big holiday dinner—for us, that would be Christmas. As we were planning, we knew we wanted the meal, much like the holiday itself, to look traditional, feel celebratory, and taste irresistibly delicious. We didn’t want anyone to notice that it also happened to be plant-rich.
Beef Wellington is classic holiday fare, so what better dish to Planetarian-ize? In our Mushroom Wellington, meaty portobellos replace the filet mignon and mushroom paté stands in for the rich foie gras paté. For extra flavor and texture, we tossed in caramelized onions and then wrapped it all in an elegant puff pastry packet.
A classic main course demands classic sides. Because we developed a rich mushroom gravy from the portobello stems and gills, we initially chose mashed potatoes, but for extra color, texture, and flavor, we opted for a mix of carrots and potatoes in Carrot-Potato Mash with Scallions, a vibrant side doubles as a pillowy bed for the accompanying Wellington gravy. Because the main course was multi-stepped, we wanted to keep the vegetable simple. We settled on simple, seasonal roasted Brussels sprouts simply flavored with smoked paprika and a squirt of lemon juice.
We rounded out the meal with a stunning dessert that feels special and festive but is simple to make. Molasses Spice Cake with Cranberry Relish and Whiskey Hard Sauce is one everyone will love.
So give this meal a try—for your big holiday or one of the many other celebratory dinners this season. We’re betting if you don’t say anything, no one will even notice there’s not an ounce of meat or dairy.
However you spend your holidays, however you celebrate, we wish you all the best this season. If you have any other holiday tips that line up with your values, please send them our way (maggy@planetarianlife). And, as always, if we can support you in your Planetarian journey, we would love to hear your questions, challenges, and successes.