We have had vegetarians at our Thanksgiving table my entire life. My sister and her daughters are vegetarian and now vegan, and my mother became a vegetarian later in life. Believe me, there are plenty of people at the table who want to enjoy the turkey and all of those trimmings, but there are a significant number of folks who are all about the vegetarian or vegan sides. And there is no way anyone leaves a Workman family Thanksgiving anything less than full and happy, so we Bring It for everyone.
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Vegan Recipes for Thanksgiving
Below is a hefty collection of vegan options for the Thanksgiving meal, and some of the recipes are adaptable. You can also explore the full scope of vegan recipes on this website. The following are fairly traditional recipes with Thanksgivingesque flavors, but you can and should feel free to experiment outside of the classic Thanksgiving-styled offerings.
Tips for Making Vegan Thanksgiving Dishes
Some of the things we do to make sure the vegans have plenty of choices:
I make the base of the stuffing vegetarian, with vegetable broth. Then I separate part of it out into a smaller baking pan for the vegetarians and drizzle some of the turkey pan juices over the larger pan of stuffing. If you want to make the smaller pan of stuffing vegan, use vegan butter to sauté the vegetables.
You can also think about using a vegan sausage or other crumbled meat substitute in the stuffing. Seitan, a wheat gluten-based product, is also a good addition to vegan stuffings.
For mashed potatoes, we boil up a whole lot of potatoes and mash them or put them through a ricer or food mill. Then, we separate the potatoes into two pots. One gets blended up with milk, cream, butter, etc, and one gets whipped to fluffiness with plant-based milk, olive oil, and vegan butter. My sister skips the olive oil but adds some vegan sour cream. Options!
We always have a salad at Thanksgiving, and while a pile of leafy greens is fine, you can make the salad a much more robust part of the menu. Consider adding some roasted vegetables, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, nuts (providing there are no nut allergies!), legumes (chickpeas are nice), and fresh or dried fruit. Adding some cooked whole grains like farro or bulgur wheat also boosts the nutritional value and adds heft. Homemade croutons crisped up in the oven with olive oil are another good addition.
Roasted and Stuffed Baked Vegetables
Roasted vegetables are the perfect crossover side, and if you roast them with olive oil or another cooking oil, they are naturally vegan. Make sure to season them well with salt and pepper, and add springs of fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage.
You may also think about some stuffed vegetables, such as acorn squash stuffed with a vegan stuffing or rice or grain mixture. Mushrooms are a great option to include in dishes with a meaty texture.
We usually make a vegan soup for lunch to inhale while we are cooking for dinner, but you might think about offering a soup as part of the main event. Soups are so easy to make vegetarian or vegan. Think about mushroom barley (our favorite), split pea, lentil tomato, curried pumpkin soup, or butternut squash soup. Just remember to keep the broth vegetarian and sub in vegan products for any dairy ingredients. Offer any non-vegan garnishes on the side.
I love a side-dish-main-dish hybrid, and grain and veggie-based one-dish recipes are Thanksgiving heroes. The basic idea is to blend up some whole grains with some cooked vegetables and/or legumes and add an olive oil-based dressing. These types of dishes are often great, either warm or at room temperature. Think about wild rice, cranberries, scallions, and an orange juice and balsamic vinaigrette. Mushrooms and barley are a hearty combo, as are diced cooked sweet potatoes and quinoa. Vegan Parmesan, cheddar, and feta are good cheese choices to add.
For vegetarians, dessert is usually not an issue, but for vegans, it’s tough. You’ll want to make sure to make, purchase, or ask someone to bring a vegan option. My sister says that the vegan dessert recipe sources and ingredients improve all the time, a marked improvement from even a couple of years ago.
Also, bring the same approach to substitutions to the holidays as you do to everyday vegan cooking. Think about substituting in vegan cheeses, vegan butter or olive oil, vegan dairy products, and so on. We have done a Tofurkey in the past, though now we concentrate on the side dishes and make them as robust as possible.
Hoping your Thanksgiving is warm, delicious, abundant, and lovely!