Monday, 28 November 2016

Food: The Annual Veggie Christmas Sandwich Round-Up

By annual, I meant that I did a post on this last year and wanted to run the same feature again only not leave it until one week before Christmas. I've never been a big fan of Christmas food and it is by far the worst time of year to be a veggie or vegan. Summer months are fine as you can get through the two barbecues you're actually invited to by sinking G&Ts and eating a few crisps but at Christmas the meat dodge is somewhat harder and the majority of veggie options are downright awful (every Christmas menu I have perused so far looks like it was written by one of those people who irrationally hates vegetarians).

The high-street sandwich offerings are getting better, though. Christmas past saw just a conciliatory brie and cranberry offering but now the horizons have been broadened beyond cheese (the lactose intolerant and vegans - rejoice!). But...are they actually nice? I shelved my carb-phobia and battled through the 3pm post-lunch slump* to bring you my guide to the best meat-free Christmas sandwiches:

1. The Starbucks Veggie Feast Baguette

£3.99 / 455 calories
"Roasted butternut squash, brie, sage & onion stuffing, cranberry & real ale chutney in a cranberry baguette".
This veggie-friendly toasted baguette is my first Christmas sandwich offering. Yes, it contains cheese which is something I usually avoid but for the sake of research I order it while vowing to spend my entire afternoon drinking water to avoid cheese headaches (they are a thing!). Despite cranberry being mentioned twice in the description, the melted cheese and butternut squash are the main flavours I get from this sandwich. I have child taste-buds which consider brie to be a "strong cheese" but pared with the other ingredients and served in a baguette I actually really enjoyed this. It was a bit messy to eat but it genuinely tasted warming and wintery. The most Hygge lunch I have eaten in a while.

2. Pret's Veggie Christmas Lunch

£3.25 / 531 calories
"Roasted chunks of butternut squash, nutty Christmas pesto and spicy rocket. Served with a spoonful of yoghurt & mayo dressing and a sprinkling of crispy onions on malted bread".
Making a comeback for Christmas '16 , in the interests of fairness I ate this sandwich again to be able to compare it fairly to the others. Since childhood I have pretended that I am reporting on events that happen and it makes the mundane act of eating a sandwich more fun because I'm not just eating it, I'm going to report on it! (Other people entertain themselves by watching TV, it's ok). I enjoyed this one, it was very filling and a rare dalliance with sliced bread. The crispy onions reminded me of childhood visits to the Pizza Hut buffet when even as a 7 year-old I went for the salad albeit covered with crispy onions and thousand island dressing. Gosh, the 90s were so much more joyful than today, were they not?

3. Pret's Very Merry Christmas Lunch

£3.75 / 487 calories
"Our first vegan Christmas lunch has arrived! A stone baked baguette layered with grilled carrots, parsnip puree and crispy onions. Finished with our very own festive chutney, a handful of freshly toasted pistachios and peppery watercress."
A new entry for Christmas '16 and finally a vegan option! To me this tasted very...sweet. The parsnip puree and chutney were maybe the culprits or I've just damaged by taste buds with years of Diet Coke consumption (although you'd think that would make things taste less sweet). The grilled carrots were a little odd, I don't think carrots are a vegetable that is often grilled but then I don't cook so what do I know. Butternut squash would have made this nicer although it's less Christmassy for Brits which is maybe why they picked the carrot. The bread was really nice, the ingredients tasted fresh and its another vegan option in Pret's already impressive range although personally I think the Mexican and chana chaat flatbreads are nicer.

4. Eat's Veggie Festive Bloomer

£3.75 / 455 calories
"Festive mushroom, chestnut & walnut stuffing with spiced carrot ribbons, roasted parsnip puree, spinach and cranberry on our seeded bloomer bread."
Actually vegan but it doesn't make a (Christmas) song and dance about it. Maybe at this point I'd had too much bread although I was always told that carbs are brain food so my writing should be better now than it is after four two gins. I managed to purchase the last one of these in Eat and ate it at my desk which doesn't sound like a recipe for festive cheer but the sandwich was good regardless. It's slightly different from last year's offering but the packaging is still on point. I'd say it was drier than Pret's sandwich and that the texture of the carrot ribbons wasn't quite right for a sandwich (see above in relation to why carrots are not a commonly featured sandwich filling) but given that it was the last one on the shelf at 1.30pm it must be selling well and I didn't feel hungry again for about 6 hours after eating this which is pretty much unheard of.

There are other veggie Christmas sandwiches available but I will stop at four I think. I don't think that I would eat any of these again (ok, maybe the Pret one if I were with a festive friend and didn't want to party poop with a "no bread sandwich") but it was fun to eat them and I'll go back to my lunchtime sushi knowing that eating bread will not kill me.

*It's ok, I don't have to fit into a bridesmaid dress for 6 months and kidding myself that it was "for the blog" greatly lessened any Bread Guilt.

Have you tried any Christmas sandwiches yet? 



  1. I'm not a veggie hater by any stretch of the imagination but I honestly couldn't get through Christmas without turkey (don't get me started on BBQs either...). My soul would weep. I don't know how you do it. I read the descriptions of those sandwiches and thought "and...". They lacked enough protein for me! But I'm a happy carb dodger so a meal for me really has to have protein as the main character (hence why I prefer salads to sandwiches - all the filling and none of the "fluff"). Despite this though, I always enjoy reading your reviews :)

  2. Very handy indeed! Although I am too much of a fusspot it seems- I don't like brie either, so I think I would go to an un-festive one. And I don't like parsnips (years of my mum pretending they were potatoes), so I would avoid those too. I love the pret green and red sandwich (avocado and some red paste thing, plus other nice things and probably flaked almonds)- so good. I had a lovely veggie one once from Pret years ago, I think it was something like nut roast with cranberry sauce, or something, but I've not seen it since.


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