A Vegan Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving will be marking two milestones in my life. Not only is it my first Thanksgiving since becoming vegan, but it will also be our first time hosting. We’re admittedly only having my mom and grandma over, but I’m still embracing my first introduction to the world of holiday hosting and, to be honest, I’m grateful that I’ll be eased into it my first year.

Image by Sabrina Ripke from Pixabay

Now, to broach the elephant in the room, no there will not be a Thanksgiving turkey at our meal. That’s probably going to be the biggest difference between our meal and the traditional meal. I see a lot of ridiculous alternatives online and I can’t always tell if they’re supposed to be a joke or if they’re actually serious. I guess I’ll just say, if you’re having a vegan or vegetarian at your meal and you want to make sure they have enough options to eat, please don’t present a baked cabbage as a replacement for turkey. Also, a salad arrangement in the shape of a turkey is not going to do the trick. Many vegans want to indulge for the holidays just like most people do. If you’re eliminating a protein, replace it with another protein.

There are fake turkey products available from brands like Gardein and Tofurky. If you’re interested in going a less traditional route, you can make things like meatloaf or meatballs with lentils instead of meat. Or honestly, do whatever you want. I know people feel obligated to maintain tradition, but you’re really not. Do what works for you and your family.

A couple of other easy ideas and replacements:

There are many things the quickly become vegan by simply swapping butter for vegan butter or regular milk for almond/oat milk, etc.

If you need marshmallows for sweet potatoes or a fluff, the brand Dandies are wonderful. In my opinion, they’re just as good if not better than regular marshmallows. They also have a lot of delicious looking vegan recipes on their website.


Instead of making gravy with turkey drippings, make a mushroom or onion gravy.

If you need to make a whipped topping, you can use aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) instead of heavy cream.

If you want to forgo a standard meat replacement you can sneak your protein in elsewhere. Tofu can be blended up and mixed into things like mashed potatoes, gravies, etc. You won’t even notice it’s there, but you’ll ensure that you get some protein in the meal.

I’d really like to stress one thing in particular that seems to go by the wayside in discussions about veganism at holidays and other family affairs. It does not need to be all or nothing! If you have a tradition of making your great-great-grandmother’s famous green bean casserole every Thanksgiving and it’s loaded with cream, butter, etc. but it has sentimental value to follow her exact recipe, you can still make that and limit what other animal products you use in other dishes. Reducing your consumption of animal products is not pointless. You are still contributing to a lower demand, which will only benefit animals in the long run. The idea that if you can’t or aren’t willing to be a “perfect” vegan then you shouldn’t bother to try at all is damaging and counterproductive to the mission of what veganism is all about. As it is, 46 million turkeys are killed annually for Thanksgiving alone. Many people don’t even like turkey, but continue to purchase and eat it for the holiday out of tradition. Now, what kind of sense does that make?



3 thoughts on “A Vegan Thanksgiving

  1. Awesome post. I love that you are extolling the virtues of making small changes! While you know I’m not vegan, I still love to substitute when I can find tastes that are equally yum and decrease my ‘meat-print’ on the planet…and not have it be fake meat or hyper-processed fake cheese (I tried so hard to like Daiya during my dairy-free days, and just realized I’d rather go whole than processed in my food choices).

    And OMG yeah, buying turkey just because it’s tradition, it makes no sense! Years ago, I made a turkey with my husband for his first Thanksgiving (he’s Australian) to show him tradition, even though I don’t even like roast turkey, and found out he’s equally apathetic about it! (The only thing we like are turkey burgers & sausage so that’s what we bought from a local farmer!). So we created our own tradition of a soul food Thanksgiving with all of OUR favorite dishes, one of our biggest draws being my collard greens cooked sweet & spicy on the stove all day, green beans with locally picked chanterelles, and stuffing (when I was a kid my mom always made an extra casserole dish worth of stuffing because I liked it better than what came out of the turkey, so I’ve imitated her version with bread, rice, apples, dried cherries, and whatever else ‘bubble and squeak’ I can throw in it. Oh yeah, and my sweet potato/pumpkin pie? Have mercy it’s sooo good.

    I admit we throw caution to the wind when it comes to the two main courses – pulled pork and mac & cheese (but hey, we butchered the pig and the mac uses 100% local dairy), but still, always trying to not only integrate more veg while decreasing overall meat content, it’s a good thing every single person can do.

    Keep the words coming!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t like Daiya either. I think it’s one of those brands that’s really hit or miss with people. Lol. I just think life is hard enough without berating people who are at least trying. I’ll take effort over apathy any day. Thank you for the kind words. I hope you have wonderful Thanksgiving!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I think about all kinds of sustainable living habits and we all start somewhere – where I’m at these days is a thousand miles ahead of where I once was 🙂

        Thanks, you too!!


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