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While you’ve been stuffing your Christmas dinner leftovers into sandwiches for years, it’s a relatively new concept for supermarkets and chain lunch spots who only ventured into the world of festive fillers quite recently. The likes of Pret A Manger, Tescos and Boots develop new takes on the mighty Christmas sandwich every year, and as December edges closer you’re forgiven for wanting to try something fast and festive at lunchtime.
Whether you’re a lifelong veggie, doing a Veganuary dry run or simply interested in something a bit different, there are heaps of vegetarian and vegan options on the market – but where do you start?
Vegetarian Christmas Sandwiches
Because it’s vegetarian, it doesn’t make it healthier than its meaty counterparts. Nutritionist and health and wellness expert Jeannie Di Bon has expert tips for picking the most nutritionally sound sarnie.
“It can be tempting to see vegan or veggie on the label and assume that guarantees a healthy sandwich – but this is certainly not the case. These options often contain a combination of fatty cheeses, creamy sauces or sugary chutneys,” she explains.
“Make sure you pay attention to the nutritional information; your sandwich should contain plenty of protein, which will help you to feel fuller for longer. In particular, watch out for sandwiches that contain over 450 calories but are more fat based than protein based. They might sound delicious, but they’re unlikely to keep you energised throughout the afternoon.
“When it comes to making healthy choices this Christmas, look for sarnies that are packed with as much veg or greenery as possible. If the offering is predominantly bread and cheese, it’s not going to give you the fuel or nutrients you’ll need to get through the festive with your health (or your waistline!) intact.”
So if you’re skipping a meaty mouthful for the veggie version, here’s how nutritionist Jeannie Di Bon would rank the Christmas sandwiches in order of health with the handy nutritional in case you’re bravely trying to count your macros amidst the festive chaos. You’re welcome.
Vegetarian Christmas sandwiches and how to pick them
10. Crussh: Roasted Carrot and Mushroom Nut Roast – £3.45
Caraway roasted carrots, mushroom and lentil nut roast, spinach and a delicious vegan mayonnaise all on wholegrain malted bread. You’ll be desperate to recreate this at home throughout Veganuary, but you might want to come up with your own, healthier version…
“Don’t be fooled by the lower calories – a massive 50% of them are from fat. This one might sound pretty healthy, but there’s a lot of fat crammed in there.”
9. Pure: All Wrapped Up: £3.85
With a diverse range of veggie options throughout the year, it’s not surprising that this popular lunch spot has a delicious Christmas offering wrapped up their sleeve.
A mouthwatering combination of brie, fig chutney, and sweet potato stuffing, topped with pistachio nuts, braised red cabbage, chargrilled vegetables, crème fraiche and watercress.
“This is the highest calorie sandwich on the list, coming in at a whopping 556. Plus, a massive 41% of the calories are fat, which is a very high ratio.
“On top of that you also have crème fraiche – very rich combination, heavy to digest. Whilst there are vegetables, cabbage, nuts, and watercress in there, they’ll do little to counteract the high fat content.”
Looking for a Vegetarian Stuffing Recipe? We’ve got you covered
8. Tesco: Finest Vegan Bubble and Squeak Christmas Sandwich – £3.50
Vegan Christmas sandwiches aren’t just restricted to the chain-heavy city centres. Pop to your local Tesco for a punchy vegan bite. The savory carrot bread is stuffed with bubble and squeak fritters, braised red cabbage – flavoured with apple, cinnamon cloves, and star anise – with sage and onion stuffing, coconut bacon flakes and vegan mayo.
“42% of the calories in this 521 calorie strong sandwich are from fat – that’s a lot!”
7. Pret: Veggie Christmas Lunch – £3.50
The lunch chain has more than just one vegetarian-friendly Christmas sandwich on offer. The award winning veggie sandwich combines chunks of roasted butternut squash, nutty Christmas pesto and peppery rocket served with a spoonful of yoghurt and mayo dressing, and a sprinkling of crispy onions on granary bread.
“One of the higher calorie loaded sandwiches on the list. The butternut squash is great for Vits A, C , E and Folate. But the spoonful of mayo is loaded with fat and crispy onions simply means fried onions.”
6. EAT: Goats Cheese, Pear and Date Sandwich – £3.95
Now, this may be one of the more decadent veggie Christmas sandwiches on the menu but it’s definitely worth every bite. All you have to do is look at the two generous slices of a multi-seed bloomer encasing some creamy goats cheese, juicy mulled wine pears, pear and date chutney, with spinach and peppered mayonnaise. Yum.
“Goats cheese is rich in vitamin A, B, Calcium, Phosphorous, Magnesium and Potassium. Is a healthier soft cheese option compared to something like brie, but still has a high saturated fat content. Plus, added mayonnaise increases the fat content.”
5. Pret: Very Merry Christmas – £3.50
Pret’s first ever vegan Christmas sandwich combines grilled carrots, spinach and a vegan stuffing on granary bread. Finished with a port and orange cranberry sauce and a handful of caramelised pecans and crispy onions.
“This one is pretty high in calories. Whilst it’s great to have carrots and spinach for Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium, it’s unclear what the vegan stuffing would contain. The caramelised pecans will be packed full of sugar and the onions will most likely be deep fried.“
4. Aldi: Christmas Brie and Spiced Cranberry Chutney – £1.69
If you’re looking for a bargain veggie Christmas sandwich, Aldi is your go-to with this option for less than your morning coffee. Gooey brie, cranberry chutney and a dash of spinach. What more do you need? Oh, and it won’t break the macro bank either.
“This is one of the lowest calories. Although it has brie, a fatty cheese, is manages to keep the fat content at 31%. The inclusion of spinach adds much needed vitamins and minerals, although it doesn’t sound like it comes with a lot!”
Here’s more proof that following a vegan diet needn’t be a challenge this Christmas
3. Waitrose: Wensleydale Cheese and Maple Roasted Vegetables – £3.70
Sprouts in a sandwich – never… right? Well, actually, it works surprisingly well in this veggie sandwich from Waitrose. See if this whets your Christmas appetite. Roasted parsnips, butternut squash, (controversial) sprouts, pears, sweet Wensleydale, and a dash of cranberries.
“Good selection of vegetables in this offering, including cranberries which are great for immune function and tissue health. Wensleydale is a good source of casein and whey protein but again, as with many cheeses, it will have saturated fats.”
2. M&S: Vegan Chestnut Roast Wrap – £3.00
Another vegan sandwich, but this time with a difference. It’s packed full, and the fresh crunchy veg combined with a deliciously tart chutney will have you making regular stops to M&S on your lunch break during December. A red pepper tortilla wrap stuffed with roasted chestnuts, quinoa and carrots, doused in a sweet grape and cranberry chutney.
“This one looks pretty good – it’s both low on calories and has the lowest fat ratio of the bunch at 23%. It’s a wrap rather than bread, which makes it easier to digest, but it’s also high on the carb content at 61% of the total calories.”
1.Boots: Vegan Parsnip Fritter & Butternut Squash – £2.75
Meal deals get a festive veggie twist with a sandwich that’s not only suitable for vegetarians, but for vegans, too. Plus it gets the nutritionist seal of approval. Score.
Parsnip fritter with butternut squash flavoured with onion, garlic and ginger, Boots brings a new vegan option to the masses and the crunchy and moist sandwich might not be for everybody, it’s definitely worth trying if you’re meat-free and trying to get your festive on.
“This is lower in calories than some of the others and has simple combination of parsnip and butternut squash – great source of vitamins C, E and K and Folate. Also onion, garlic and ginger help with immune function, detoxification and skin health. Fat is 28% of the total calories, which makes it almost the lowest of the lot.”
Need some more Christmassy meat-free ideas? Why not try these Healthy Gluten Free Vegan Mince Pies and these Vegan Christmas Food Hacks