Top 5 Tips for a Veg-Friendly Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a holiday that centers around food and family. It’s also a time of gratitude and kindness which means we can use it as an opportunity to make room for compassion at the table.
Like all living things, humans evolve. Looking back, we can point to many beliefs, practices, and activities that were generally accepted at the time but make us regretful today. Many feel that way about the practice of eating animals and long for the day when the new normal is one that honors access, sustainability, health, and life. Until that day dawns, if you're looking for a little inspiration this holiday, here are my top 5 tips for a veg-friendly Thanksgiving:
1. Veganize It
Most recipes can be easily “veganized” by making simple substitutions. The dishes will be just as delicious and no one will be the wiser unless you want to let them in on your secret. In recipes that call for:
…Chicken or beef broth, substitute vegetable broth
…Butter, use margarine, a vegan spread like Earth Balance, or olive oil
…Milk, try non-dairy versions like almond, soy, rice, or coconut, depending on the recipe
…Sausage, check out the wide variety of soy or wheat-based sausages that come in many delicious flavors from companies like Tofurkey, Field Roast, Impossible, Beyond Meat, and Light Life
…Whipped cream, whip up chilled coconut cream with powdered sugar or buy a vegan whipped cream like CocoWhip
…Marshmallows, try Dandies, sold at Whole Foods and many healthy grocery stores
2. Call Ahead
If you’re visiting, call ahead and ask if the host would be willing to veganize any of the dishes, like making mashed potatoes or vegetable dishes with vegetable broth, non-dairy milk, vegan butter, or oil. Offer to bring a dish or two of your own to take the pressure off the host–and be sure to bring enough for everyone!
Depending on your situation, hosting may be the best way to incorporate a veg-friendly approach to the meal. If you want to offer your guests a vegan Thanksgiving meal, let them know in advance so there are no surprises or disappointed guests. Assure them the menu will be satisfying and delicious! Take requests for a favorite dish or two and make special plans to veganize them.
4. Get Help
If you need help, stores like Whole Foods offer pre-cooked vegan Thanksgiving dinners, as do many larger health food stores. Or drop into your local grocer before you start planning and ask about veg-friendly options that will be available. There are plenty of options for mains and sides. And believe it or not, pre-made roasts like Tofurkey, Field Roast, and Trader Joe’s Holiday Roast are really delicious and can be a simple way to add a vegan main course to the menu.
Look online for inspiration–the websites and blogs offer creative and abundant recipes (or check out the Compassionate Cuisine cookbook!)
Need more help? Reach out to me and I’d be happy to help troubleshoot or veganize with you!
5. Lead with Love
Thanksgiving is a celebration of gratitude–approach it with compassion and tolerance. Most households are a mix of people with firmly held beliefs. Respect and non-judgmental curiosity can go a long way in disarming defensiveness and discomfort. And no matter which side of the table you sit on (vegan or non-vegan), bridge the gap with love. We need that more than ever now.