I would like to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving holiday season. This is certainly one of the biggest holidays of tradition where families are gathered together to enjoy each other around a huge festive meal. It is one where we have collectively celebrated over the years around a turkey dinner with all of the trimmings. I remember those days when I was younger and eating myself in to oblivion that I needed a nap. I still love to eat, and who the heck doesn't? Just because you have made the decision to go vegan, or plant-based, doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice taste, or compromise your holidays. There is no need to wonder what to do this year for the holiday since you won't be participating with the traditional turkey. You can still have a lovely time without the turkey. This year will be done a little differently though, still centered around family and friends, but we can gather around the table with a meal that is made with the greater good in mind. It's better for our health, and made without cruelty. Just around this time alone, 46 million turkeys are slaughtered each year, so let's turn these numbers around. I'm here to help give you a few ideas of what to feast on.
But first, will you be a guest in someone's home?
If so, offer to bring a small dish of something. It doesn't have to be elaborate since this will be your first holiday without the traditional turkey. No need to stress out, so offering is a nice gesture in itself, whether you bring a side dish, like ones I will mention below. Or even a vegetable tray with a vegan dressing or hummus for snacking is always enjoyed by all. I don't know about you, but I love holiday nog, and there are a lot of varieties out there like the ones by So Delicious, and Califia Farms are very good that are super creamy and packed with spice and flavor. Silk makes a nice option, too. Honestly, I haven't explored making my own version yet, but when I do, you will be the first to know.
Are you hosting this year?
Is Thanksgiving going to be at your house this year? Will this be your first vegan holiday at your house? I am sure you have already been thinking about this and maybe you are feeling a little stuck. But then again, maybe not. Not to worry, I've got your back and will offer a few ideas that are super easy and quite delicious. I am here to help and won't offer up anything that is going to be super complicating to make or prepare. After all, this page is all about making the vegan transition easy and fun. So, here we go...
Now you can certainly go ahead with a holiday vegan roast that are readily available these days in most grocery stores (and I agree they are good transition foods!), but if you are a little bit ambitious in trying your hand at creating something on your own, I am going to suggest the maple glazed loaf. I came across this recipe on One Green Planet. This recipe calls for real ingredients including mushrooms, oats, and with lentils being the main ingredient, it is rich in iron, protein, high in fiber, and low in fat. I say to give it a try and perhaps making it a new tradition each year. Don't be fooled, you can keep some traditions alive, like your famous side dishes that everybody loves. Just be sure to swap out the ingredients if it calls for animal product. Now what are you thinking about serving up? Do you have your favorites? Don't forget that basically all recipes can be "veganized," and there are always alternative options.
It's important to remember to keep this as uncomplicating as possible especially if this is going to be your first vegan Thanksgiving. Side dishes can just be simple mashed potatoes and vegetables to start with. I make really good mashed potatoes, and yours can be just as good. While others may be used to theirs made with regular cow's milk, making potatoes with a plant based milk can be just as creamy. It's simple, use an unsweetened plant based milk, I like almond milk, but you can use whatever you like or have on hand. If there might be hesitation due to an allergy, I would avoid a nutmilk or soy based milk altogether. You could use a pea based milk, or even the oat milk by Pacific would work which you can find at most major super markets. I generally use russet potatoes, and I lightly peel them leaving most of the skin on. Cut into cubes, and throw them in to a boiling pot of water. Once they are done, a tip that was given to me is to mix in heated milk, not cold, as this will keep the potatoes warm and creamy. Depending on preference, mash them with a masher or use a hand held mixer to whip them up. If you like garlic in your potatoes, then add garlic, too.
Brussels sprouts are a nice added side dish if you think they will be enjoyed. Butternut squash is always a nice addition to any meal, but if you are looking for something a bit more hearty, how about trying my butternut squash with quinoa recipe? It is more than your basic squash, so if you have more time, and want something that is not-so-basic, give this one a try. Also, If you don't want to use a butternut squash, feel free to substitute with an acorn squash. You will find my quinoa stuffed squash recipe here.
I found this really great sage, rosemary, and thyme vegan stuffing recipe on One Green Planet. Personally, I would omit the oil and sauté the onions and mushrooms in regular water, or you could use just a bit of the vegetable broth in the pan. Both would do the trick.
Baking a stuffing separately in a dish instead of the traditional way inside of the turkey will give you a nice easy option of preparing without that mess.
I like keeping things light by sitting with friends and family while we relax and let our dinners digest. Keeping conversations going while gathered around with coffee, holiday nog, and a small dessert. I think these no-bake salted dark chocolate chunk oatmeal bars by halfbakedharvest are just perfect for such the occasion. They are easy to make and super delicious. Who doesn't like chocolate, caramel, and a little bit of sea salt?
I hope these suggestions prove to be delicious for you as well as easy to make with no stress or fuss. Holiday time should be about family and friends and time well spent together. We tend to be busy all year round that it's nice to sit, relax, and enjoy some togetherness. I am glad that you are here and making the decision to have your holidays with compassion and without cruelty. We can turn these numbers around and make a difference by going vegan. Even small changes add up to something bigger. I am happy that you are joining me. Compassion begins with you.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Wishing you health