It’s that time of year again where all gatherings revolve around one main thing, food, and lots of it. To the newer plant based individual this season might seem super intimidating. Maybe you’re worried about the looks and the comments you’re going to receive from friends and family when you bypass the turkey and deviled egg platers as they go around the table. Maybe you’re worried about not being able to enjoy the season as much or maybe you’re just wondering what in the world you’re going to eat. Please know that this can be (and is) so so simple and can also be oh so delicious. There is nothing to stress about! Most of the dishes on the table during Thanksgiving and Christmas can easily be made plant based. Some easily veganized dishes include mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole made with plant based butter, green bean casserole can easily be made plant based, stuffing, gravy, etc. I’ll have some of my favorite tried and true vegan thanksgiving recipes linked at the end of this post but get creative! Make it your own and start new traditions.
Remember, you can take any traditional recipe and replace the animal product with a plant based version. I like to keep it as unprocessed as possible. Here are some of the replacements I use:
Milk - Almond or Organic Soy Milk
Heavy Cream - Coconut cream
Cream Cheese - Kit Hill Almond Cream Cheese (seriously so good.)
Sour Cream or Pasta Cheeses - Can easily be made out of cashews, nutritional yeast and spices.
Any other cheesy flavor that may be needed - Nutritional Yeast (also an awesome source of b-12!)
Plant based butter - I always try to find the one with the smallest ingredient list. I recently found a vegan butter at target of all places that is great!! Linked here
We do not miss out at all when it comes to holiday meals. I love knowing that the food we’re eating is kind and we didn’t have to harm any living being to fuel our bodies. Our food will keep us feeling lively and energized as opposed to heavy and exhausted like most feel after Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Food should never exhaust you, food is fuel no matter the day of the year. Last year we enjoyed several plant based dishes including mashed potatoes & gravy, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole (my favorite!), and a roasted & stuffed butternut squash. It was delicious!
Remember to stay positive about your lifestyle change and if needed, explain your choicest friends and family in a loving way. Thanksgiving is not the time or place to be hard on anyone for their choices just as you wouldn’t want anyone to be hard on you. Don’t let pressure get to you! Some people will not understand the health and/or the ethical reasons behind eating plant based. If that’s the case, I always like to say “You know, I’ve been eating this way for over a year (or a few weeks of a few months, whatever the case is) and my body has gotten used to it. If I were to change that now, I would feel pretty sick and that’s no way to spend the holidays.” Even if your family doesn’t understand the health and ethical side of things, most people understand not doing something to keep from feeling terrible. I am usually left alone after saying something along those lines! Just as someone with an allergy wouldn’t be pressured into eating something bad for their health, you also should never feel pressured into eating something that compromises your values and how you are choosing to treat your body. I love being able to show friends and family that just because I’m vegan doesn’t mean I have to miss out on anything. I would argue any day that my version of thanksgiving dinner is much tastier than the traditional dishes anyway. ;)
A few of the dishes we made last year and some other great ideas:
Stuffed Butternut Squash - I tweaked this a good bit and did not add tempeh.
Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole were recipes that I just made my own and replaced the animal products with plant based ones. Have fun with it and do not stress! Poor yourself a glass of wine, kombucha, hot cocoa, whatever you please, and get creative!
I hope you have an incredible Thanksgiving and remember to take some deep breaths and enjoy this time!