Paul McCartney has been a committed vegetarian since his late wife, Linda, stopped cooking meat in the 1970s—but there’s one ritual the former Beatle still carries on from his carnivorous life: carving duty at the Christmas Day feast.
“The thing about becoming vegetarian is that some of the things that I saw as traditional male roles — not wanting to get too sexist or genderist here — such as barbecuing, and slicing the roast, went,” McCartney, 77, told the Sunday Times. “I wanted something to carve at Christmas!”
Linda’s initial solution was to create “a macaroni cheese that she shaped and left to set,” says McCartney. These days, however, the legendary songwriter has the slightly easier task of slicing through a vegetarian roast made from mushroom duxelles straight out of the best-selling Linda McCartney vegetarian range. Launched nearly 30 years ago, the brand is now a familiar sight in British supermarkets.
“We try to keep Mum’s legacy alive,” daughter Stella McCartney, also an animal rights activist, told the outlet. “She was so ahead of her time.”
“The cool thing about [her] is that she would challenge someone about eating meat, but she had this very charming way of doing it, so it never became an argument,” Paul said of Linda, who died of breast cancer in 1998. “She would say about a lamb or calf, ‘Its mummy loves it.’ We’d think, ‘We’ve talked about it, but they’re not going to do it.’ But then you start to find people like Alec Baldwin and Johnny Depp suddenly turn veggie. They got the idea.”
Paul complements his special holiday roast with broccoli, red wine gravy, roasted Brussels sprouts with chestnuts, vegetarian stuffing and — as a special reminder of his childhood in Liverpool — a big pile of carrot and turnip mash.
And his carving skills are merely one component of the McCartney family Christmas, which includes the company of his children, eight grandchildren and wife Nancy Shevell, 60, — whose colleagues at New England Motor Freight were recently treated to a surprise rendition of Beatles classic “I Saw Her Standing There” at a company Thanksgiving party.
“This is a family thing,” Stella told the Sunday Times, “And it’s so great. It comes down to the taste, which brings everyone together.”