Thanksgiving can be tricky to navigate for vegetarians and vegans, especially if our loved ones aren’t practicing the lifestyle, too. But in the spirit of the holiday, we can sit down and enjoy the meal sans fighting and surprises.
You may not be able to finagle a fully-fledged vegan Thanksgiving unless you’re planning the whole shindig (in which case, God bless and good luck). However, you can advocate for as many vegan options as possible and make sure that your own meal is sufficient without turkey on your plate.
1. Bring a vegan dessert for all to share.
It’s fun to be present during someone’s first time trying a vegan dessert. With eggs and dairy out of the question, many people can’t fathom how a vegan dessert can be edible. But not only are they edible; they can taste out of this world, which can surprise nonbelievers. Plus, without butter and eggs, vegan desserts are often healthier than other kinds. Once you tell them that, they might even consider eating vegan more often. Try knocking their socks off with a Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie with Gingersnap Cookie Crust or a Pumpkin Ice Cream and Brownie Parfait. For more ideas, check out recipes for 10 winning vegan Thanksgiving desserts.
2. Ask the host to make the stuffing vegan
It may be hard to convince your dinner pals to serve tofurkey or a nut loaf for all the meat-eaters at the table, but stuffing is a different matter. Stuffing can easily be made vegan without anyone thinking they’re giving something up. Simply replace the turkey stock for a vegan alternative, like vegetable stock. If you’re planning your own vegan thanksgiving with a vegan stuffing, then hoorah. But if you will be sharing the table with turkey eaters, try to sweet talk whoever is cooking into making sure you can eat the stuffing, too.
3. Have lots of healthy, meat-free sides on the table
It’s totally possible and even acceptable to fill up on Thanksgiving dinner sides, especially because there are so many to choose from. Like the stuffing, sides are another way to ensure that vegans and meat-eaters can break bread together in harmony on the holiday. If it’s not too late, take charge of contacting the ones you’ll be dining with and nicely ask them if they can leave out meat, dairy, and eggs. Kindly suggest vegan alternatives to these products, like soy butter, vegan cream cheese product, or almond milk. Maybe you and the family can agree that if turkey will be served, then all sides will be vegan. Try suggesting one of these vegan side dish recipes.
4. Plan an alternative main dish
If you’re the lone vegetarian at a table of turkey eaters, don’t despair. Plan ahead and bring yourself your own Tofurky Roast, which you can easily find at most grocery stores. The vegetarian product is made of tofu-wheat protein blend to mimic a turkey-like texture and flavor. If soy foods pretending to be meat aren’t your thing, try cooking a pumpkin and spinach lasagna. There are many plant-based dishes you can make for the main course. Check out 10 Meatless Thanksgiving Main Courses.
5. Simply smile at the family member who pokes fun at you
There’s always that one family member who feels the need to point out that you don’t eat meat. They’ll make a big ruckus out of it. “Hey, who wants turkey? This is so good, I can’t believe you refuse to eat it!” Try not to get too upset. Chances are, this family member isn’t part of your daily or even weekly life, so don’t spend the rare dinner you have with them in a fight. If you don’t reply, or if you say a simple comment like “haha yeah,” then move on to another topic, they probably will drop it, too. Skip the vegan lecture as response, at least until after dessert.
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