For those on the path to a plant-based diet, Thanksgiving and other holidays can feel a bit daunting — at least initially. Though there’s no need to feel left out of the festivities! What about all the traditional family recipes full of meat, dairy, and eggs? Easy: Given them a compassionate makeover!
With a little pre-planning and advance prep, navigating these group dinners can be a breeze — and you’ll have fun tempting the taste buds of your meat-eating friends and family! It’s all about knowing how to substitute ingredients, whip up some delicious vegan dishes, and create options that omnivores and herbivores alike can enjoy.
Here are six of our favorite ways to create the perfect plant-based Thanksgiving:
Snag substitutes for your favorite ingredients.
These days there are alternative options for every meat, dairy, or egg product, so it’s easier than ever to veganize traditional favorites. Stock up ahead of the big day. Buy Earth Balance instead of butter; Dandies Marshmallows instead of Jet-Puffed; an egg substitute like Neat or Ener-G; vegetable broth instead of chicken or beef; and non-dairy creamer or milk. These items can easily be switched out in traditional recipes, often without anyone noticing the difference.
Find like-minded eaters.
If you don’t have anywhere to spend Thanksgiving (or if you’re looking to attend more than one meal), search MeetUp for local vegan and plant-based events. Most cities have at least one or two get-togethers around the holiday, and a potluck is the perfect place to find veg-friendly foods. Spending time with other compassionate eaters will also help strengthen your resolve — and you can usually score some fantastic recipes.
Try a roast.
No longer are vegans left out when it comes to celebratory cuisine. A whole host of companies are releasing delicious plant-based roasts. Some of our favorites include Gardein’s Holiday Roast (stuffed with cranberry wild rice stuffing); Field Roast’s Celebration Roast or the brand-new Smokey Forager’s Roast (with pineapple mustard glaze); and Tofurky’s classic feast — complete with vegan brownie.
Arm yourself with great recipes.
Nothing can ruin a good time like a terrible recipe. Stick with the best: try our pumpkin pie, our herbed vegan gravy, our mashed potatoes, our holiday stuffing, or our creamy mac and cheese. These are crowd-pleasing, veganized versions of traditional favorites; we wouldn’t steer you wrong.
Bring your own food.
If you’re going to a family event over which you have no culinary control, consider bringing at least one or two dishes of your own. Sometimes asking the host to customize food for you isn’t an option, and in these instances, it’s best to come prepared. Make some of the recipes listed above, and you’re likely to have other attendees clamoring to taste your mouthwatering goodies. Make enough to share!
Stay open and encouraging.
When you’re on the path to plant-based living, it can be tough to witness the cruelty that goes along with a traditional Thanksgiving menu. If you’re attending a dinner where turkey and other animal products will be served, try to focus on the lives you’re saving by abstaining from those options. It can be frustrating to see other people participating, but remember that most eaters still aren’t aware of the horrors of animal agriculture. If family or friends ask about your veg lifestyle, be open and willing to answer questions. Try to avoid being judgmental or dogmatic, and offer encouragement and acceptance, instead. Everyone is on their own path, but you can help others find their way to a cruelty-free lifestyle by setting a compassionate (and delicious!) example.
For more tried-and-true vegan deliciousness, explore our recipe section!