Vegan and Vegetarian Thanksgiving Alternatives

By: Brooklyn Baggett

Stop missing out on your favorite Thanksgiving foods this year with the following alternatives that are tailored to vegetarians and vegans alike.

Photo credits to Oh my Veggies

     Thanksgiving is the one holiday known for the traditional gigantic family feast, which is awesome – if you eat meat and dairy. It is often hard for us vegetarians and vegans to have a good meal on this lovely holiday, so here are some ways that you can eat your favorite Thanksgiving foods this year.

     First of all, so many vegetarians and vegans miss out on turkey, because, well, it’s entirely meat. An easy and delectable substitute for this traditional entree is the Tofurky Veggie Roast, which has wild rice stuffing. 

     The wheat and tofu roast is purely plant-based, serves up to six people, and can be found in the freezer aisle of almost any grocery store, along with other plant-based meat alternatives. Tofurky isn’t the only brand of this holiday roast; similar roasts can be bought from brands such as Gardein, Trader Joes, Field Roast, and Quorn.

     Another one of the most well-known Thanksgiving foods is mashed potatoes, which is vegetarian, but unfortunately not vegan. Lucky for you, it is simple to make homemade vegan mashed potatoes.

     In order to make mashed potatoes, you will need  butter and cream or milk substitutes. For butter, you can either use plant-based butter, such as Earth Balance or I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, or a 50-50 blend of olive oil and refined coconut oil.

     For your milk substitute, I recommend using soy milk, as coconut and almond milks create unwanted flavors in your dish. If you wish to use cream, making cashew cream is your best bet; it will add a richer flavor to your mashed potatoes – they won’t end up needing lots of seasoning!

     Lots of vegetarians and vegans sadly miss out on a tasty sauce that is often poured over turkey and mashed potatoes – gravy. While gravy is made mainly of the meat juices, there is still a way to make gravy with no animal products whatsoever. 

     Vegan gravy calls for 2 cups vegetable broth, ¾ tsp onion powder, 3 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp soy sauce, ½ tsp dijon mustard, and ¼ cup all purpose flour. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium-sized pot, then whisk over medium-high heat until the gravy thickens, and voila! You have meat-free gravy!

     One of everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving desserts, pumpkin pie, is full of dairy but can of course be made (or bought) vegan. Since going vegan has become a bigger trend recently, vegan pumpkin pie can be found at many grocery stores, especially Whole Foods and Trader Joes, during the holiday season.

     If you would like to make your own pie, simply substitute coconut milk for regular milk, can pureed pumpkin for pumpkin pie filling, and a store bought or homemade vegan pie crust.

     Finally, you’ll be glad to know that a classic Thanksgiving dish – green bean casserole – can be made vegan as well. The only part of this delicious dish that isn’t vegan is the cream of mushroom soup. Many brands such as Amy’s sell vegan cream of mushroom soup.

     Alternatively, it may seem a bit high maintenance, but if you have a lot of time on your hands, you can actually make your own vegan cream of mushroom soup to substitute for this.

     As you can see, there is no need to miss out on all of those delicious smelling foods this Thanksgiving with all of these accessible, plant-based, mouthwatering, and absolutely necessary substitutes.

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