Is it possible to have a vegan Thanksgiving dinner?

I know the traditional Thanksgiving menu is all about turkey. I’ve heard of vegetarian Thanksgiving dinners. I am trying to be a vegan, and although my family love traditional soul-food dishes, I would like to host a vegan Thanksgiving dinner. I would like to find recipes and emergency catering options.

Ashley Howard

in Events and Holidays

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Jennifer Patterson on November 15, 2018

Everything depends on your approach. A “feast” of tofurkey, brown rice, bottled water is a great way to raise everyone’s holiday stress level and possibly ruin the holiday. On the other hand, there are Thanksgiving vegan alternatives that will lure the carnivores over to the vegan table.

All vegans should be familiar with the work of Mary McDougall. She notes that, because the turkey is traditionally surrounded with relatively simple vegetable side dishes, traditional Thanksgiving menus are actually easy to make vegan-friendly. You just cook lots of lovely plant-based food whose rich, savory flavor does not come from animal fat. If someone is determined to have a turkey, let that person bring one; it’s relatively lean and healthy meat. Here are the complete instructions for a lavish plant-based feast: https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/recipes/holiday-meal-planning/. If you make everything on the checklist you should have enough for twenty guests, maybe more. Each individual dish is easy to make, unlike some elaborate turkey alternatives.

If you’re determined to have mock turkey as a main dish, a safe, reliable, easy option is to buy one. Here’s the menu from Tofurky.com: https://tofurky.com/?s=roast+turkey.

If you want to make a meatless “turkey,” Vicki Griffin’s book The Guilt-Free Gourmet contains recipes for that and many other vegan entrees.

Vegetarians’ Thanksgiving ideas also include desserts. In addition to Mary McDougall’s pumpkin and chocolate pies, you might want to offer fresh fruits, fruit cups, and cookies. For a Deep South feast, offer iced sweet tea as well as coffee, apple juice, and soda pop.

Vegan catering services are available, and well-reviewed, in many cities these days. If you don’t live near one, plan ahead and have a faux turkey in the refrigerator as an emergency option.

While certain foods—corn, potatoes, pumpkin, green beans, sweet potatoes, turnips, and boiled or steamed greens come to mind—are considered traditional all across North America, the first Thanksgiving feasts consisted of whatever was available. Local specialties like pecans, peanuts, chinquapins, sorghum, persimmons, mangoes, papayas, black-eyed peas, hot peppers, rice, okra, or oranges and grapefruit, deserve celebration at a Southern Thanksgiving.

Daniel King2 months ago

It’s nice to see someone getting it right! Tofurkey is any tofu-based vegetable protein entree that’s designed to look and taste sort of like a roast turkey. Tofurky is the brand of a company that makes faux turkey and other vegan gourmet foods.

Anyway, another vegan Thanksgiving idea is to offer plant-based main courses like beans, rice, pasta, or grilled portobello mushrooms (or all of the above). High-protein feast foods don’t have to come from other animals. If you want something that will keep you in the kitchen as long as roasting a turkey, you could always construct a vegan lasagna. Layers of tomato sauce, lasagna noodles, eggplant, zucchini, and cashew paste are as gooey and intriguing as the carnivores’ version, only lower in fat.

For dessert, pumpkin pie can be sweet and creamy while naturally vegan, especially if you melt a dollop of vanilla Rice Dream over the top. 

Caroline Campbell2 months ago

I like the vegetarian Thanksgiving idea of letting those who eat meat bring their own turkey, and greens “seasoned” with fat pork, and whatever else they think they need. Vegans can happily fill up on vegetable side dishes so, if the family can agree to share the cooking for a traditional Thanksgiving menu, all of them can have a good time. Vegan black-eyed peas can be enlivened with savory vegetables. Pecan pie is traditionally made with eggs, so it can also be made with tofu.


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