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How to Cook for a Vegan at Thanksgiving

How to Cook for a Vegan at Thanksgiving

Don't worry if a vegan is attending your Thanksgiving event. Cooking for a plant-based guest is actually quite easy with these simple ingredient swaps and suggested menu options.

Nothing strikes fear into the heart of Thanksgiving dinner hosts quite like the word "vegan." Pretty much the antithesis of all traditional holiday meal components, vegans don't eat meat, dairy, or eggs. But, thankfully, it's not as hard to cook for a vegan as the public believes. Arm yourself with a hearty serving of seasonal veggies, grains, and legumes, and you'll have a Thanksgiving-worthy meal in no time.

Making a dish vegan-friendly doesn't have to mean absolutely scrapping your traditional choices. Below are some easy ways to make dishes plant-based without changing the recipe's integrity:

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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Easy Vegan Swaps

  • Favor vegan fats. When sautéeing or roasting veggies, choose olive oil instead of butter. It will have the same rich flavor. Be sure to add extra salt if the original recipe calls for salted butter.
  • Swap stocks. Simply replace any meat-based broths with vegetable broth. This can easily make grain dishes and soups, like Vegetable Paella or Silky Tomato Soup, vegan-friendly.
  • Opt for plant milks. If the dish just needs a splash of dairy for a touch of creaminess, soy milk can easily be used in its place. Just be sure to choose unsweetened plain varieties and avoid the sweet flavored types most people drink or pour over cereal.
  • Play up umami. Want to add a nutty touch to sides with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top? Nutritional yeast is a great stand-in, with a natural cheesy and high-intensity umami flavor.
  • Time for tofu. If you're looking to use ricotta in a dish like lasagna, mashing firm tofu with a little vegan mayonnaise and herbs makes it a creamy, rich substitute.

Simple Vegan Thanksgiving Menu

Don't feel like you need to make the entire menu vegan for a single guest. Most plant-based guests will be happy to have a few options, and many won't be expecting the entire spread to be free of meat, dairy, and eggs. For guests with dietary restrictions, it's nice to make sure they have at least one salad and two sides options. If you want to go above and beyond, also serve a heartier dish that can be their main. Below is a tentative menu to inspire you:

If you're still worried or confused about serving a vegan at your Thanksgiving, just ask. Most will be happy to answer any questions, and almost all will point you in the right direction with recipes and cookbook suggestions.


Nothing out of the ordinary. They eat an appetizer, a main dish, sides, and some dessert. Just, joking&hellip

&hellipbut you&rsquoll see that you can have an absolutely delicious Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner without eating the traditional turkey-based and dairy-based dishes.

If you &ldquoJump to the Recipe&rdquo to the bottom, you will see our

FAVORITE Vegan and Gluten-free Thanksgiving Dinner Menu.

If you need it in a printable e-book with SHOPPING LIST, click here!

Have you seen our Vegan Christmas Dinner Recipes? Not yet? You can also download it for FREE in the form of a printable e-book with a shopping list.


How to Make a Vegan Roast

  1. Make the dough – Combine all the ingredients except those for the crust, in a food processor.
  2. Knead the dough – Transfer the mixture to the counter and knead for 3-5 minutes or until fibrous. Form the seitan into a loaf.
  3. Boil – Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt. Add the loaf to the water and lower the heat so the water gently simmers. Boil for 25 minutes.
  4. Add the rice paper – Fill a bowl with warm water and submerge the first sheet of rice paper for 7 seconds and lay it on a wet plate.
  5. Wrap the loaf – Place the loaf on top of the rice paper and start folding the paper upwards. Submerge the second paper and place it on the top of the loaf and fold it downwards.
  6. Season – Brush the loaf with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings, rubbing in the seasonings with your fingers.
  7. Bake – At 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing.


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“I’m actually visiting them soon and have already politely explained that if they want to share a meal with me, the whole table must be vegan,” he added. “Otherwise, we can hang out in between meals and I’ll just eat in another room and dream of animal liberation.”

Those looking to cook up a holiday dinner that provides the appropriately festive atmosphere without sacrificing the life of an animal do have some choices, though they are limited.

Tofurky is one of the best options. The Oregon-based company, which makes a wide variety of plant-based foods, offers an oven-ready, stuffed roast for Thanksgiving made of soy and wheat, with wild rice and bread-crumb stuffing. In the Los Angeles area, the Tofurky roast is sold at certain Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Market, Gelson’s and Vallarta markets (customers should call ahead to ensure their specific store carries it). The roasts can also be found online for as little as $12.99.


9 Easy Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Some people get stressed planning for the Holidays. For me, it is my time to shine! I love the stress, the recipes, the food, and the eating. I’m always looking for new Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes to try and add to my final meal plan. Here are 9 more vegan recipes I am considering.

Will I use all of these delicious vegan Thanksgiving recipes as part of my spread? It’s doubtful. I will continue to cook different individual recipes daily, take notes, and then make my final decision about three days for Thanksgiving day arrives.

Most years I keep one or two main dishes that are proven and tried. And then I will mix up all of the other dishes, sides and desserts to make every year different and exciting. No one EVER leaves my Thanksgiving dinner disappointed. Carnivores and Herbivores alike, they all love it.

Starting on the next page you can check out 9 recipes I really like. They range from making your own stuffed Seitan Roast, to vegan desserts and side dishes. We will start with this amazing Stuffed Seitan Roast on the next page.

Stuffed Seitan Roast

Click here for the recipe from fat free vegan. And go to the next page below for Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Toppings!

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Toppings

Click here for the recipe from fat free vegan. And go to the next page below for Corn Casserole, vegan dinner rolls, and green bean casserole.


Add These Vegan Thanksgiving Foods to Your Holiday Meal This Year

These delicious dishes even have a nutritional edge over their classic counterparts.

Fueling with a plant-based diet has become increasingly popular for many runners within recent years. In fact, ultrarunner Scott Jurek has won numerous long-distance races&mdashsuch as the Hardrock Hundred, the Badwater Ultramarathon, the Spartathlon, and the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run&mdashwhile eating a vegan diet.

And while Thanksgiving dishes may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about vegan-friendly foods&mdashafter all, this holiday&rsquos classics include turkey and various items mixed with with cream, butter, and covered in drippings&mdashyou can make many of these foods with vegan ingredients that still taste just as delicious as the original.

That&rsquos right, there&rsquos no need to create doubles of every dish or start molding blocks of tofu into the shape of a turkey. Instead, try whipping up a few of these simple vegan-ized versions of Thanksgiving staples. They have a nutritional edge over their classic counterparts, and they&rsquore tasty enough to make any turkey day hardliners happy.

Mashed potatoes are maybe the easiest dish to make fully plant-based. Instead of using cream and butter, just purée boiled potatoes with a little a non-dairy milk or warm vegetable broth, olive oil, salt, and pepper. You could even throw in a few cloves of freshly roasted garlic if you&rsquore feeling fancy.

And if you want to get a little more out of your mash, try replacing half of the potatoes with cauliflower. The vitamin C in the cauliflower will give your immune system a boost and help stave off the sniffles after your cold-weather runs.

[The 2021 Runner&rsquos World Calendar features gorgeous photos, monthly motivation, and tips to inspire your running all year long.]

Sauté onions, mushrooms, and garlic in olive oil. Once the vegetables are cooked through, sprinkle in flour and stir until you form a smooth rue, then slowly whisk in vegetable broth. For an extra bit of umami, toss in a small handful of dried mushroom and add a dash of soy sauce while your gravy simmers.

Mushrooms are ideal fall fare for vegans because they&rsquore one of the few non-animal food sources of vitamin D. With the days getting shorter and colder, your exposure to sunlight, usually a vegan&rsquos best supplier of vitamin D, tends to drops off, so be sure to pack in as much as you can. Maitake mushrooms are chock full of the stuff, while chantrelle and morel mushrooms are decent second choices.

Don&rsquot put those mushrooms away just yet. Follow the same steps as the gravy, but when it comes time for the broth, whisk in a non-dairy milk. While the soup thickens, wash and trim enough string beans to fill a casserole dish. Pour your creamy mushroom soup over the string beans, bake, and top with fried onions before serving.

Green beans are a great source of vitamin K, which your body needs to absorb calcium. If you&rsquore running on pavement or upping your mileage, you&rsquore at an increased risk of a stress fracture, so go ahead and scoop yourself a second helping.

Okay, we know &ldquolentil loaf&rdquo isn&rsquot the most appetizing two-word combination in the English language, but stay with us&mdashthis loaf is a crowd pleaser.

There are lots of different lentil loaf recipes on the the web, but we&rsquore particularly fond this one from Oh She Glows.

Now here&rsquos the trick: Tell your vegans that the loaf is their turkey stand-in a hearty, savory main dish that&rsquos packed with protein, B vitamins, and iron. Then, tell your turkey eaters that the loaf is like a super-moist, super-flavorful stuffing, with way more fiber and complex carbs than some stale loaf of white bread.

We hope you left room for dessert. Toss sliced apples with sugar, cinnamon, and a splash of lemon juice. In a separate bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped pecans, olive oil, and a dash of salt into a slightly clumpy mixture. Fill a greased baking dish with the apple mixture, and sprinkle with topping evenly. Bake in a 350 degree oven until the crisp is bubbling at the sides and the top is golden brown.

Your guests get all that gooey apple goodness, and you didn&rsquot even have to get your rolling pin out! Now that&rsquos something to be grateful for.


Vegan Turkey

If you cannot let go of the memory of the perfect golden-roasted turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner, there are vegan mock-meats that you can explore. You have many options today for faux turkey with stuffing. Made with soy, wheat, and vegetables , the faux turkey alternatives can be healthier than meat. The faux meat turkey offers another advantage. Most of these come with readymade stuffing and are perfectly seasoned. So, you can cook it in a jiffy. Some of the best faux turkeys are offered by Tofurky, Gardein, Field Roast Celebration Roast, Magic Vegan Loaf Maker, the Vegan Whole Turkey by Vegetarian Plus, Harvest Celebration Field Roast, and Quorn Turk&rsquoy.

The best part about these faux meats is that these are miles away from the often tasteless substitutes of the past. Today you can get mock meats that are remarkably close to the real thing. You can take your pick of stuffing, flavor and gravies. You can roast them as you would a real bird. In fact, the Vegan Whole Turkey even comes shaped like a turkey.


VegKitchen's Favorite Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Published: Nov 18, 2013 · Updated: Apr 7, 2021 by Nicole @ VegKitchen · This post may contain affiliate links.

When it comes to vegan Thanksgiving recipes and menus (which are also suitable for vegetarians, of course), VegKitchen is thankful that our Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner page has long been one of the premier resources on the web. There are lots of choices, from soups to desserts, but if you want to get right down to it, this page will narrow it down to our favorite vegan Thanksgiving recipes.

And of course, if you still prefer to cook from a book rather than a web site, please consider Vegan Holiday Kitchen , which offers recipes like these, and much more, for the Thanksgiving feast (and beyond — Hanukkah, Christmas, as well as the spring holidays and summer entertaining).

We've been making Butternut Squash with Whole Wheat, Wild Rice, and Onion Stuffing (at top) forever. You'll love how the savory flavors contrast with the smooth, sweet squash.

"Three Sisters" Stew highlights the fact that Thanksgiving is a harvest festival, celebrating indigenous crops like corn, beans, and squash. I seem to alternate between this and the above stuffed squash, though once every few years I'll choose Pueblo Corn Pie.

Everyone seems to love stuffing, though technically, if it's not stuffed into anything, it's called "dressing." Cranberry-Pear Wild Rice Stuffing is my favorite, though if I'm making the stuffed butternut squash above, I wouldn't choose this, as it also contains both wild rice and bread. There are lots of other choices for unstuffed stuffings, aka dressings, on the Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes page.

If you'd like to make a more contemporary kind of main dish, you might want to consider Leslie Cerier's Tempeh Stew with Wine and Shiitake Mushrooms , accompanied by her Cranberry-Orange Sauce.

There are sweet potato people and mashed potato people, and if you're in the latter category, you'll be among many VegKitchen readers who've gone crazy for Chef Beverly Bennett's Mouthwatering Mashed Potatoes with Groovy Onion Gravy.
If you're more of a sweet potato person, we've got you covered here, too. Maple and Tarragon Sweet Potatoes are an exercise in simplicity and a nice contrast to some of the more complex flavors of a vegan Thanksgiving repast.
Last but not least, though we have lots of dessert choices to choose from on our Thanksgiving page, I nearly always opt for the classic Easy Vegan Pumpkin or Squash Pie.

Once again, don't forget to explore our Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner page for lots more choices and holiday classics (Brussels sprouts dishes! Corn! More entrees! More cranberry sauces! More desserts!) By making plant-based choices on this food-centric holidays, you're making the world a kinder and better place. Anyone who can look at pages like this one and plan to have this kind of food is truly lucky, and we should be thankful for that, indeed, in a country where so many still go hungry and lack food security. I like to try to remember that this time of year is for charitable giving, as well as for celebrating. Have a happy and compassionate Thanksgiving!

Thanks to Hannah Kaminsky for creating the beautiful photos on this page.


1 of 9

Red Curry Roasted Carrot Soup

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 small red onions, quartered

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1-2 teaspoons red curry paste

15-ounce can full-fat coconut milk

Toasted coconut flakes, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, toss carrots, onions, oil, salt, and sugar. Spread vegetables evenly on the baking sheet and roast 30 to 40 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until browned and tender.

3. Transfer mixture to a food processor or blender and add ginger, 1 teaspoon curry paste, and stock. Blend until incorporated. Add coconut milk and blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add salt and additional curry paste if you like. Add lime juice and any additional liquid if you prefer thinner soup.

4. Spoon into bowls and serve garnished with cilantro and toasted coconut.

Nutrition score per serving: 171 calories, 9g fat, 10g carbs, 2g protein


Vegan desserts

Vegan and Gluten-Free Pecan Bars

"These gooey, sticky and utterly decadent pecan pie bars are an incredible substitute for a tradition holiday favorite: the pecan pie," says food blogger Samah Dada. "However, you don't even need an oven to make this recipe because it's totally raw!"

Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Raspberries

Didn't quite finish that bottle of red wine last night? Use it to make chocolate cake! This rich and seductive chocolate cake is fudgy on the inside with a hint of red wine. Top it with wine-soaked "drunken" raspberries and a dollop of coconut whipped cream for the ultimate dessert.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

This show-stopping cake surprisingly only takes 15 minutes to prep and 30 minutes to bake. It's made with vegan-friendly, gluten-free ingredients like almond flour and coconut oil and is sweetened with maple syrup, vanilla and, of course, carrots.

Vegan Matcha-Dark Chocolate Cake

"Mashed ripe banana and Japanese ceremonial matcha powder make this cake this cake is one of the most beloved in my cookbooks," says Candice Kumai. The banana adds sweetness and moisture and the matcha deep earthiness.

Vegan Salted Almond Cheesecake Bars

Whether everyone in the family is vegan or just one, serve up Dada's spin on cheesecake with these equally satisfying "cheesecake" bars. The combination of cashews and coconut milk create this unbelievably creamy texture, and the raw crust is both chewy and crunchy, with a nice subtle sweetness from the dates. But most importantly, it is made out of all real, whole ingredients that you can feel good about eating.

Erica Chayes Wida is an award-winning journalist, food writer and recipe editor who helmed a local newspaper before joining TODAY's freelance team. A mother of two, she loves singing, collecting old vinyl and, of course, cooking. Erica is forever on a worldwide quest to find the best ham and cheese croissant and brainstorms best over a sauce pot of bubbling pasta sauce. Her work has been featured on BBC Travel, Saveur, Martha Stewart Living and PopSugar. Follow along on Instagram.


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