What are the best Vegan solutions to Thanksgiving dinner?
No day causes more stress for vegans than Thanksgiving. While being vegan is easier than ever, with a cornucopia of food options at restaurants and grocery stores around the country, being a vegan on Thanksgiving can be overwhelmingly stressful.
Whether you’re cooking a fully vegan dinner or bringing a dish to your family’s traditional dinner, there are a few impressive recipes you can whip up to overcome your fear of this holiday.
For the main course
The main course is the staple of Thanksgiving feasts, but seasoned vegans tend to skip this course and enjoy a variety of sides and savory dishes instead. However, if you want something show-stopping to add to your Thanksgiving Day table, there are options. If a store-bought Tofurky isn’t your jam, then get inventive. You can serve a lentil or seitan loaf topped with gravy, a mouthwatering vegan shepherd’s pie, stuffed squash, or cauliflower steaks. Or, think outside the box and cook your favorite pumpkin pasta dish, a warm and spicy curry, or a flavorful vegetable paella. The best part about vegan Thanksgiving is that there are no rules to follow!
For mashed potatoes
This dish is extremely simple to veganize and tastes incredible. Using your favorite recipe (or box mix — no judgment), add olive oil or vegan butter in place of regular butter and unsweetened non-dairy milk instead of regular milk. Dress up with your favorite herbs and we bet no one will be able to tell it’s dairy-free.
For dairy-free buttermilk biscuits
It’s actually possible to concoct mouthwatering, buttermilk-style biscuits that are 100% free of animal products. There are dozens of recipes online to choose from, but in general, swap the butter for vegan butter or olive oil and veganize your buttermilk. To do this, use dairy-free milk (ideally soy, almond, or cashew) and add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Let it curdle and in minutes you’ll have perfect buttermilk, minus the dairy.
For mac and “cheese”
This classic Thanksgiving dish is a nostalgic one and can be pretty tough to veganize. Everyone likes their mac and cheese a little bit differently, so finding the perfect vegan recipe takes some trial and error. One thing’s for sure though — you’ll want to invest in nutritional yeast (also referred to as “Nooch”) in order to add the cheese flavoring to your pasta. You’ll also need dairy-free milk and vegan butter if you want to add some depth to your dish. Customize your recipe with sriracha or jalapenos for spice, breadcrumbs for texture, or greens for a health boost.
For irresistible cornbread
There’s nothing more inviting than buttery cornbread fresh out of the oven. Whether you prefer it savory or sweet, cornbread is a highlight on Thanksgiving Day. You can bake your own from scratch or buy a dairy-free box mix. Substitute milk for almond milk or water and butter for coconut oil. If you need an egg, mix together a flax or chia egg. To do so, add a tablespoon of ground chia or flax to a mixing bowl along with three tablespoons of warm water. Let the mixture sit and thicken, to an egg-like consistency. This vegan egg will hold your cornbread together, while the coconut oil adds an irresistible, yet subtle sweetness to your bread.
What’s Thanksgiving (or life, for that matter) without dessert? Vegan desserts are just as delicious and sometimes even more decadent than non-vegan options. Classics like pumpkin pie are easy to veganize. You can find vegan crusts premade in stores or create your own using crushed rolled oats, pecans, and dates, or maple syrup as a binder. Make the filling by skipping the eggs and adding cornstarch to thicken and subbing the milk with your favorite plant milk. You can even swap the sugar for dates for an all-natural, but still sweet version of this classic dish.
Follow the same logic for the rest of your desserts — apple pie, strudels, or cakes — by swapping milk with plant-based milk, subbing chia or flax eggs for regular eggs, and replacing butter with vegan butter or oil. Once you know how to replace non-vegan ingredients, baking is a breeze.
General tips when attending non-vegan dinners
If you’re joining your family or friends for dinner, you may be stressed about not being able to eat a majority of the food on the table. Don’t panic — there are a few easy ways to keep the focus off your diet, while still enjoying your holiday.
First, ask whoever is hosting the party if they could serve some vegetables without butter. Or, bring your own frozen or fresh vegetables along. Hosts generally want to accommodate their guests’ diets, so asking for a simple change is generally no big deal.
If you don’t feel comfortable requesting anything special, bring your own veganized dishes or snacks. You only need a few key dishes to create a fantastic meal. Plus, there are likely dishes that are accidentally vegan like sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and raw veggies.
Relax and remember, Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate with family and friends, so don’t let the details ruin your holiday.
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Courtney Johnston writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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