In today’s modern and often health conscious culture, many of us find ourselves hosting the holidays for family or friends who are vegan even if we haven’t chosen that lifestyle for ourselves. The holiday season is a time for celebration, joy, and of course, delicious food. But for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, finding a healthy and satisfying holiday meal can be a challenge. But don’t worry—you can create a mouthwatering vegetarian and vegan holiday meal that not only nourishes your body but also takes care of the planet. We’ll also explore environmentally friendly and all-natural decor ideas to make your holiday table shine. We’ve compiled a list of vegan recipes for classic holiday dishes such as meatloaf made from lentils and tofu, mushroom-based gravy and mashed sweet potatoes to equally delicious recipes for traditional vegetarian options such as french cut green beans and cranberry sauce.

Reasons to Try Vegan or Vegetarian Holiday Dinner Recipes

While the reasons to go vegan or vegetarian are personal to each individual, there are a few consistent motives. Top among these reasons are environmental impacts, animal cruelty protestation, and health benefits. One of the most common reasons, and a great reason to incorporate vegan fare in your holiday meal, is the many proven health benefits of maintaining a vegan lifestyle. Studies have shown a plant-based diet reduces the risk of various chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and cholesterol and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. Featuring vegan dishes over a time of the year when many heavy unhealthy foods are consumed is a great way to lighten the Holiday menu without sacrificing flavor.

holiday vegan dinner tablescape fern

A meal without meat can be as enjoyable as one with, by sharing and incorporating all the Holiday flavors so many of us are familiar with. Most sides can be, and probably already are, prepared without animal fats using vegetable based oils as well as herbs and spices that will evoke all the traditional flavors of the Holidays. But, the key to cooking a vegan Holiday dinner is in finding just the right main dish that will adequately fill the role that meat traditionally plays on the plate. The aspect of preparing the perfect vegan entree is a daunting challenge to even great cooks, but we have just the dish.

Setting the Vegan Holiday Dinner Table with Treasures from Nature

Start by creating a modern arrangement of Paper Whites, a type of narcissus that will bloom in the winter. Planted in a contemporary gray pot with stark white pebbles, this centerpiece is striking in a traditional room and adds a touch of “today” to your dinner party. Maiden ferns will charm guests as they sweetly fill the table with their delicate leaves. Found pine boughs rolled in white paint add a natural wintery touch. Autumn ferns, which grow so well in Virginia and survive well into the winter months, create an elegant backdrop to the dinner plates. Tucked between the gold painted chargers and beautiful white china, the Autumn fern adds an unexpected but lovely framing to the dishes.

Of course what would a vegan holiday dinner party be without the flicker and warm glow of candles? These small, low candles shine beautifully onto the decor and faces of guests when scattered throughout the tablescape. Place them in artfully crafted glass holders with glittering mercury glass paint to add a touch of glamor to your natural table. Add the twinkling lights of a holiday tree to bring festivity to the room. To create more holiday cheer and add a splash of color, dot sprigs of red berry into the centerpiece and napkin place settings. Guests will be charmed by the magic of it all evening long enjoying the great food, Virginia’s finest wines and the company of friends and family.

holiday vegan dinner place setting

Your Satisfyingly Hearty Vegetarian Main Course

Over the holidays we want to get out our finest wine and not create a dinner of just sides, but one that still has the heartiness and presence of a main entrée. Here we have a warm and flavorful vegan oatloaf made with lentils, mushrooms, fresh herbs and spices that do the work of a terrific main entree with great taste and finesse. Topped with a delicious vegetarian mushroom gravy that brings out the moist and delicious qualities of a winter holiday entrée, you’ll reach for this recipe all season long. The savory quality of this loaf packs all the punch of a meat entree while still giving us all the benefits of health in the new year.

holiday vegan dinner cranberry lentil loaf
holiday vegan dinner cranberry lentil loaf fern

Savory Mushroom Gravy Recipe

The perfect textural addition to any vegan holiday dinner, this mushroom gravy provides your meal with richness. Served alongside the Oatloaf, this dish adds the earthy creamy quality of the most traditional gravies, while using only basic healthful ingredients. Plus, mushrooms provide a great source of vitamin D and support a healthy immune system during the winter months. Try it as an accompaniment to any of your holiday sides.

holiday vegan dinner gravy boat
holiday vegan dinner food plate

Classic Holiday Side Recipe Collection

These sides are not only healthy vegetarian holiday dinner options, but exude the spirit and flavors of the season, and make a great supplement to your oatloaf entrée.

holiday vegan dinner food plate
holiday vegan dinner food

Healthy Sweet Potatoes

What holiday meal would be complete without potatoes? This healthy sweet potato recipe uses only five ingredients, including cinnamon and allspice, to evoke the tastes of the season. The naturally sweet flavor of the potatoes give you the satisfaction of a candied dish without actually adding any sugar.

French Green Beans with Shallots

This time-friendly recipe will impress all your dinner guests, without being over complicated to prepare. The addition of shallots to this holiday staple will heighten this dish, while using high-quality olive oil provides the extra health benefits of antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats.

holiday vegan dinner green beans

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Making a fresh cranberry sauce from scratch not only dazzles on the dinner table, but also has nearly half the calories, carbohydrates, and sugars compared to pre-made store brands. It also contains more fiber and potassium. The walnuts in this recipe add a well appreciated texture and seasonal feel.

Choosing the Right Wine Pairing for your Vegan Holiday Dinner Recipes

When choosing the correct wine to go with your vegan dinner, it is important to consider the type of flavors in the dishes. As with any meal, it is necessary to balance the flavors on the plate with the flavors in your glass. Heartier, robust flavors, like those found in dishes like the Oatloaf and mushroom gravy pair best with earthy medium-bodied reds, such as the ever pleasing Octagon from Barboursville Vineyards—made with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot varietals.. You can also opt for a full-bodied dry white such as the Bluestone Vineyard Chardonnay to complement the palate.

The nuttier and sweeter flavors, like those in the sweet potatoes or cranberry sauce with walnuts, will also pair well with a rounded, smooth red like a Merlot blend like the Williamsburg Winery Barrel Aged Claret—made with a base of Merlot along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Tannat varietals.

holiday vegan dinner fern food wine
holiday vegan dinner wine food

A Festively Sweet, Yet Healthy, Berry Dessert Recipe  Paired with Sparkling Rosé

The holidays are never complete without some sweet treats. This elegant and festive vegan dessert only requires two ingredients and is packed with antioxidants. The frozen banana and berry vegan “sorbet” is nutritious and delicious, beautifully served in your favorite crystal stemware with a dash of dark chocolate and fresh berries. Learn how to make it here

Complement your holiday dessert with a delicious sparkling wine. This gorgeous sparkling rosé from Veritas Vineyards feels fresh and mirrors the berry-full flavors of the frozen treat, while also highlighting the luscious colors in your final course.

holiday vegan dinner sparkling rose
holiday vegan dinner mousse dessert raspberry
holiday vegan dinner gravy boat

Vegan Mushroom Gravy

This gravy is super healthy and low fat, especially if you omit or reduce the salt and use wheat flour for the roux, packed with earthy flavor from the mushrooms. Avoid using olive oil in favor of vegetable broth for the sauté to further reduce the fat content. If you omit salt completely be warned it can be a bit bland - even just a little goes a long way.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American


  • 4 cups vegetable broth Either no salt or salted, plus 3 tbsps. of same and some reserve
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme Or ½ tsp dried
  • 1 tsp salt Optional
  • 1 yellow onion Chopped fine
  • 3 stalks celery Chopped fine
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 4 oz portobello mushrooms Or mushrooms of choice
  • ¼ cup white or wheat flour
  • 1 cup water


  • Add the onions, celery, salt (if using no-salt broth, or omit if on low salt diet), thyme and garlic to a large, deep sauté pan on low-medium heat, along with the 3 tbsps vegetable broth. Sauté until soft, about 15-20 mins. Stir frequently and add more vegetable broth as needed, to keep from burning.
  • When the sautéed mixture is soft and fragrant, add the vegetable broth and mix together. Let simmer for about 10 more minutes.
  • With the water and flour, create a slurry (or roux) and mix well in a glass with a fork.
  • Slowly pour the roux into the broth mixture, mixing as you go so that it does not clump. Add until it gets to your preferred gravy texture - be careful as it will thicken quickly the more roux is added.
  • Once the gravy reaches your preferred thickness, remove from heat. Serve hot and enjoy!
Keyword Gravy, mushrooms, vegan
holiday vegan dinner food

Healthy Sweet Potatoes

Create a mouthwatering vegan holiday dish using sweet potatoes, cinnamon, and allspice. Get ready to indulge in a flavorful combination that will leave you wanting more. Put a new spin on the classic holiday dish by omitting fats and creams for a healthier but equally tasty vegan option.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American


  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper


  • With a fork, poke holes in each sweet potato. Wrap each sweet potato in a damp paper towel (to minimize moisture loss) and microwave them all for 15 to 20 minutes. Time can vary based on microwave power and sweet potato size. (Don't be afraid to stop the microwave occasionally to poke the sweet potatoes to gauge doneness. The end goal is to have them scoop-able with a spoon but not over cooked and mushy.)
  • Cut each sweet potato down the middle and scoop out insides with a large spoon into a bowl. Be careful, insides can be very hot!
  • Sprinkle spices over the sweet potatoes.
  • Mash the sweet potatoes together to desired texture. (Alternatively, you can mash ½ to a more smooth texture, and ½ leave roughly "chopped". Mix these two batches together to create a nice contrasting texture.)
  • Serve hot and enjoy!
Keyword holiday side dish, holiday sides, Side Dish, sweet potatoes
Holiday Ham Side Dishes

French Green Beans with Shallots

If you're looking for a delicious and versatile side dish, look no further than French-cut green beans with shallots. This simple yet elegant dish combines the vibrant flavors of fresh green beans with the subtle sweetness of shallots. Whether you're hosting a dinner party or just want to elevate your weeknight meal, this recipe is sure to impress.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 people


  • 1 lb green beans trimmed
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 large shallots thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp high quality olive oil
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch sugar


  • Cook the shallots in a skillet over medium heat until soft and translucent.
  • Add the beans, salt, pepper and water and bring to a boil.
  • Cover and cook for roughly 8 minutes on low.
  • Remove the lid, increase heat to high, and stir frequently until the water is evaporated and the beans tender.
  • Add additional seasoning to taste.
Keyword Green Beans, holiday, holiday side dish, holiday sides, shallots, Side Dish, vegetable
Holiday Ham Side Dishes

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

A traditional holiday cranberry sauce with a fresh twist of orange. The natural sweetness of the cranberries is complemented by the citrus fruits, resulting in a well-balanced sauce. The tartness of the cranberries is mellowed by the citrus, creating a sauce that is not overly sweet. This fresh citrus cranberry sauce is a delightful and flavorful alternative to the classic cranberry sauce. It adds a zesty twist to your holiday meal and is sure to impress your guests.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 people


  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup fresh squeezed orange juice (roughly 2 oranges)
  • 1 tsp grated orange peel
  • 1 medium peeled orange (cut into tidbits)
  • ¾ cup toasted walnuts (or untoasted black walnuts)


  • Cook cranberries, orange juice, orange peel and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and brought to a boil stirring until sugar dissolves, cranberries are tender and mixture thickened, 10-12 minutes.
  • Transfer to a bowl and add in orange tidbits and walnuts.
  • Chill for at least 2 hours before serving, but can be made up to a week in advance.
  • To create more chutney flavors, you can add cinnamon, fresh grated, ginger, ground cloves or raisons to taste.
Keyword cranberries, cranberry sauce, holiday, holiday side dish, holiday sides, orange

MANDY REYNOLDS has a master’s in arts management and a bachelor’s in history, enjoys reading and is an avid traveler. Having grown up in the Shenandoah Valley, she appreciates how much the area has to offer.

R. L. JOHNSON is our Co-Publisher and Creative Director. Bethke studied at the prestigious ArtCenter College of Design and began her career as a professional photographer in Los AngelesShe moved into graphic design and art direction when she relocated to Charlottesville in 1994. As our company’s co-founder and visionary, she enjoys all aspects of storytelling.

Virginia Wine & Country celebrates elevated living in Virginia Wine Country. Virginia Wine & Country Life is a semi-annual luxury print magazine with a full digital presence. The Virginia Wine & Country Gold Book is an annual guide to the top award-winning wines, wineries and experiences in Virginia Wine Country. The annual Virginia Wine & Country Wedding Planner is an art book of elegant Virginia weddings. Virginia Wine & Country tells the stories of Virginia wineries, the farm-to-table movement, luxury travel, entertaining, art and the elegant country lifestyle. Ivy Life & Style Media also provides branding, web design and PR services for the wine industry.