We tested options from major supermarkets as well as a handful of premium offerings (The Independent/ iStock)
We tested options from major supermarkets as well as a handful of premium offerings (The Independent/ iStock)

There’s no denying it, Christmas 2020 is going to look a little different. Perhaps this is the year you’re planning a more intimate gathering or even looking to replace your traditional turkey with a meat-free alternative?

According to market research company Mintel, UK sales of meat-free foods are predicted to grow to more than £1.1 billion by 2024. And we’re already seeing the number of vegan alternatives increasing on shelves. Thankfully though, the days of making do with a dry nut roast are well and truly over.

Whether you’re a committed vegan or just up for trying something new this year, we’ve found a selection of plant-based centrepieces you’d be proud to serve.

For those that want to replicate the meaty texture of turkey, there are seitan-based meat alternatives to trick you into thinking you’re eating the real deal.

And for those that prefer a plateful of vibrant veggies, there was elegant puff pastry perfection. We tried all the vegan Christmas mains from the major supermarkets, as well as a handful of premium offerings too.

We were looking for beautiful centrepieces that would pair well with all the traditional (vegan) trimmings, whether you’re dining as a duo or are looking for plenty of leftovers.

In fact, we think this might be the best festive vegan line-up we’ve seen so far.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

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Plant Pioneers two no turkey parcels 370g (serves two)

These meaty parcels were so intensely smoky (we’d liken them to a bacon frazzle), that we triple checked the label. Made from turkey-flavoured seitan, each parcel is wrapped in a smoky-orange bacon substitute and stuffed with herby sage and onion stuffing. More moist than any turkey we’ve tried, it really did make us question why we’d eat the real thing when this is so tasty. We also liked that they are individually portioned which makes serving easier, although do bear in mind there won’t be any leftovers (unless you buy extra).

Buy now £6.00, Sainsbury’s

Cook butternut squash & red onion galette 910g (serves six)

If a meaty texture isn’t important to you, you’ll love this elegant galette (a posh open pie in other words). New for 2020, it consists of thinly sliced roasted butternut squash, a layer of pink pickled onions and a mix of pearl barley and red quinoa to make it substantial. The puff pastry turned a nice golden colour and the whole lot is topped with pomegranate seeds and nibbed pistachios. If you’re not vegan, add a handful of crumbled feta just before serving. Because we’re greedy and it was delicious, we’d say it serves four to six, although with all the trimmings it should stretch.

Buy now £15.00, Cook

M&S plant kitchen vegan festive wreath 720g (serves four)

We liked the wreath design and appreciated the fresh rosemary decoration, but the cranberry and orange glaze split opinion. Some testers loved how tart it was, for others it was a little too much. Like a big fat nutty sausage, this one is predominately made with roasted mushrooms (although it didn’t taste overwhelmingly so, and there was no slimy mushroom texture), as well as chestnuts and pumpkin seeds which was the dominant flavour. If you’re veggie rather than vegan, the mushroom and camembert pie (£18, serves four) from the M&S festive range – though currently out of stock – was rich, decadent and sensational.

Buy now £10.00, M&S

Waitrose vegan festive filo swirls 968g (serves four)

Spicy and rich, these perfectly golden pastry spirals got nicely crisp and looked just as impressive as any Christmas centrepiece. Stuffed with butternut squash, tomatoes and red peppers, not all were keen on the sweeter elements such as apricots and raisins. Finished with flaked almonds, we found them moist and thought they’d go well with the traditional Christmas dinner sides, including a lick of gravy.

Buy now £15.00, Waitrose & Partners

Morrisons the best Christmas tarte 392g (serves four)

Fake meat isn’t for everyone, and this pretty tart offers all the Christmassy flavours via a veg-packed puff pastry. The filling consists of chunks of sweet potato, mushroom and parsnip and a creamy dairy-free sauce made with a coconut oil cheese alternative. Pretty clever! It’s finished with savoury pink granola and a festive puff pastry star in the centre. We think serving four people might be a stretch though, even with all the trimmings.

Buy now £5.00, Morrisons

Rudy’s turk-y roll 750g (serves four)

One of the UK’s first vegan “butchers”, this online shop is home to a whole range of vegan “meat” products, including this vegan “turk’y” roll, stuffed with “soysage”. It’s not much of a looker if we’re honest, however, we found it was really well seasoned and the outside crisped nicely. Super easy to cook, it would make a fantastic centrepiece, smothered in gravy, if you’re looking for a meat alternative. Save any leftovers for “turk’y” sandwiches on Boxing Day. Available from the 1 December.

Buy now £10.00, Rudy’s

Wicked Kitchen no-turkey roast Crown 500g (serves 4)

We weren’t sure whether we should include this one in our round-up or not. On the one hand, we were blown away by how convincing it looked. Made with soy and wheat protein, it’s topped with a garlic star melt and a sage and onion stuffing crumb.

Even when we carve it, the fibre looked exactly like the real deal. However, it just didn’t quite deliver on taste and was a bit slippery in places. We’ve included, as perhaps with a fantastic vegan gravy and good seasoning it could be saved.

Launches 23 November.

Buy now £5.00, Tesco

Townsend vegan Christmas feast (serves 2-8)

Following on from the huge success of its Town-Send deliveries that were launched during lockdown, Townsend’s Christmas feast boxes are the next best thing to eating out. Boxes contain enough for two – eight people, (fingers crossed we’re allowed that many guests by then). We love that there’s a choice of two starters and desserts, to go with the main course of root vegetable and truffle bake. It also contains all the traditional trimmings – stuffing, cranberry sauce, bread sauce and brussels sprouts. With the likes of roast fennel and burnt onion salad to start, and sticky toffee pudding with oat cream for pud, this is by far the most premium vegan option out there and we think you deserve it. Just add the fizz. Order by 15 December.

Buy now £62.00, Townsend

Riverford vegan Christmas dinner in a box (serves 3-4)

Ok, we know we said no nut roasts, but this is a nut roast with a difference. Riverford has combined two of its best-selling vegan centrepieces with vegan-friendly gravy, cranberry sauce and a seasonal veg box so you can rustle up the spuds. A good starting point for a completely organic plant-based spread, and a snip at under forty quid. You can’t go far wrong. Available from 5 December.

Buy now £39.95, Riverford

The verdict: Vegan Christmas mains

For those that are looking for a convincingly meaty main to pair with all the trimmings, we loved the smoky Plant Pioneer’s two no turkey parcels from Sainsbury’s. However, if fake meat isn’t your cup of tea, the Cook butternut squash and red onion galette was super elegant and bursting with flavour. To ensure you don’t forget anything important, let Townsend deliver a restaurant-quality meal to your door.

To get into the festive spirit, check out our review of the best Christmas hampers

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