A traditional Christmas pudding is a key feature in most Christmas dinners. But if this is your first Christmas as a vegan or if you have vegan guests coming over, you may be wondering if Christmas pudding is vegan or not.
In truth, there’s no simple answer to this, as just like many cakes, some are vegan and some are not, depending on the ingredients. While most Christmas puddings are suitable for vegetarians, not all are.
So, read on to learn how to read the label to tell if a Christmas pudding is vegan or vegetarian. I’ll also show you where you can buy the best vegan Christmas puddings from supermarkets in the UK.
Is Christmas pudding vegan?
Traditionally, Christmas pudding isn’t vegan as it contains suet and eggs. Shop-bought Christmas puddings often contain milk and may also contain alcohol that’s been filtered using animal derivatives. However, vegan Christmas puddings are available in most supermarkets and are easy to make at home.
Animal ingredients to watch out for in Christmas pudding
A common ingredient in Christmas puddings, suet is saturated fat that usually comes from the area around cows’ kidneys. It’s traditionally used in steamed puddings, pastry and mincemeat. Vegetable suet is available as an alternative to beef suet.
Many Christmas puddings contain egg which is used as a binder to stick the ingredients together. It should be easy to spot if a shop-bought Christmas pudding contains egg as this will be highlighted in bold as an allergen in the ingredients.
Annoyingly for vegans, so many shop-bought food items have milk in the ingredients. In the case of Christmas puddings, milk may be added in the form of cream, butter or condensed milk.
Christmas puddings traditionally contain brandy or cognac. Almost all brandy is vegan, but some types of brandy are distilled using animal products like isinglass, gelatine or albumin. As an alternative to brandy, some Christmas puddings contain sherry, cider, Irish stout or rum. There’s really no way to know what these have been filtered with.
Is vegetarian Christmas pudding vegan?
Your Christmas pudding is labelled as ‘suitable for vegetarians’ – Does that mean it’s also vegan-friendly? Sometimes, yes.
If a Christmas pudding is labelled as vegetarian, it could also be vegan-friendly. Check the ingredients list, looking out for anything highlighted in bold. In the UK, eggs and dairy products are required to be bolded in the ingredients as they are allergens.
If your Christmas pudding is labelled as vegetarian, and you can’t see any animal products in the ingredients, then this usually means that it’s vegan by ingredient, but hasn’t been certified as suitable for vegans.
This could be because there’s the potential for cross-contamination with animal products in the factory. Or, it could just mean that the company hasn’t applied for vegan certification.
While the strictest vegans will only eat foods that are certified as suitable for vegans, most vegans turn a blind eye to cross-contamination with milk as it is so difficult to avoid.
Suggested read: Is food that ‘may contain milk’ vegan?
If you’re catering for vegans at Christmas, it’s best to buy a Christmas pudding that’s labelled as ‘suitable for vegans’. If it’s too late and you’ve already bought it, show them the packaging so that they can make their own decisions about whether they wish to eat it.
Where to buy vegan Christmas pudding in the UK
1. M&S Christmas Pudding
M&S Made Without Christmas Pudding is labelled as suitable for vegans and is also gluten-free. You can buy it at M&S Food or at the online supermarket Ocado. This decent-sized pudding serves four people.
2. Tesco Wicked Kitchen Christmas Pudding
Tesco’s standard Christmas pudding isn’t vegan-friendly as it contains single cream. However, the supermarket does have a vegan version with its Wicked Kitchen Christmas pudding. It’s only a single serving, so not ideal if you’re preparing a Christmas Dinner for more than one vegan or want everybody to eat the same.
3. Asda Christmas Pudding
Asda’s standard Christmas pudding is suitable for vegans and is certified by the Vegan Society. However, other Asda own brand Christmas puddings aren’t vegan. The alcohol-free version contains egg and the Extra-Special version contains cream.
4. Sainsbury’s Christmas Pudding
Sainsbury’s Plant Pioneers Christmas Pudding is a single serving vegan Christmas pudding. If you want a larger pud, the Free From version serves four and is also vegan-friendly.
5. Morrisons Christmas Pudding
While Morrisons standard Christmas pudding is vegan by ingredient, if you want to be sure that there’s no cross-contamination you should go for the gluten-free Free From version as this is labelled as vegan.
How to Make Vegan Christmas Pudding
Most vegan Christmas pudding recipes simply replace the suet with vegan suet that’s made with vegetable fat, though you could use coconut oil. Eggs and milk aren’t necessary for Christmas pudding.
Typical vegan Christmas pudding ingredients include:
- Vegetable suet
- Alcohol – Brandy, sherry or rum
- Spices – Nutmeg and cinnamon or allspice
- Dried Fruit – Sultanas, raisins, currents, figs, apricots, cherries or dates
- Baking powder
If you want to make your own vegan Christmas pudding, this short video has an easy recipe that you can follow…
Vegan Christmas Pudding FAQs
When it was invented in the 14th century, Christmas pudding was made with beef and mutton. While modern Christmas puddings don’t contain meat, they often contain animal fat in the form of suet.
Some Christmas pudding recipes contain eggs and some do not. It’s easy to make an egg-free Christmas pudding. With shop-bought Christmas puddings, you’ll need to check the ingredients as they’re all different.
Christmas pudding and plum pudding are the exact same thing. Despite the name, plum puddings do not contain plums. In Victorian times, dried fruits such as raisins, currants and sultanas were called ‘plums’.
When it was first made in the olden days, plum pudding did contain mincemeat – usually beef and mutton. Modern plum puddings do not contain any meat, but they may contain animal fat so they aren’t always suitable for vegetarians.
Figgy pudding is another name for Christmas pudding. Figgy pudding is a steamed, cake-like dessert that was traditionally made with figs. Nowadays, figs are optional in the recipe and other dried fruits are commonly included.
When it was first invented, figgy pudding did contain meat. But from Victorian times onwards, the meat was replaced with suet (a type of animal fat). Modern figgy puddings often contain suet, but sometimes this is vegetable suet rather than animal fat.
The bottom line
In 2021, almost all Christmas puddings are suitable for vegetarians, but you must still check as some do contain animal fat. Vegan Christmas puddings are widely available in most supermarkets, just be sure to check the label as the ingredients vary.