Burns Night has come around again with the Scottish festivities taking place on January 25th, but how does that work when it falls during Veganuary? The annual celebration to the bard of Ayrshire Rabbie Burns is centred around the haggis, making it harder for those trying to go without animal products for a month.
Have no fear, you can still celebrate the life and works of the great man without feasting on offal. Here’s how:
Start with a soup
Burns Night suppers traditionally start with a soup, but the usual options of cock-a-leekie, cullen skink and Scotch broth all rely on animal products for flavour. Emi’s Good Eating offers a recipe that tastes just as good, but without the chicken broth. Be sure not to skip out the prunes, as they are a vital part of the original recipe.
Make a vegan haggis
It won’t feel like Burns Night without a haggis, which is traditionally made with sheep’s heart, liver and lungs. So far, not so vegan, but you can cook up a vegan alternative that relies on beans, seeds and mushrooms like in this recipe from FriFran and still have it as the centrepiece of your celebrations.
With the oats and haggis spices you’ll still get the overall flavour of the dish and by the time you’ve added the neeps and tatties it’ll look like the real deal. We’re not sure how the vegan version would stand up in a haggis hurling competition, as found at the Highland Games, but it sure is good for eating.
All good celebratory meals include a decadent pud and in Scotland this is often cranachan. The deliciously thick and creamy dessert is made with oats and gets much of its flavour from the whisky and raspberries that are added. To keep up with Veganuary, try this recipe from Cate in the Kitchen, which uses coconut milk instead of cream. Use the leftover whisky to toast the bard at the end of the meal, as per tradition.
Observe the other traditions
Burns Night is an evening steeped in tradition and that’s what makes it particularly fun. It’s about more than just popping on a kilt and eating haggis, however, as there are loads of specific elements to the feast and celebration of Rabbie Burns.
Something as important as a haggis cannot simply be brought in and put on the table, so its arrival is accompanied by bagpipe music. The piper might play Robbie Burns Medley, The Star O’ Robbie Burns or A Man’s A Man for A’ That, depending on their repertoire. It’s customary for all guests to stand during this auspicious moment.
This is followed by a number of addresses, including one specifically written by Burns called Address to a Haggis. After this, there’s the Immortal Memory section of the evening in which Burns’ poetry is read, an unscripted Address to the Lassies and Reply to the Laddies.
To finish the evening, everyone joins hands to sing Auld Lang Syne, another of Burns’ works. It’s handy that Burns Night comes so close after New Year’s Eve, as it means we’ve all got more chance of remembering the words. Just don’t mention that there’s actually six verses when most people stop somewhere through the second one!