Thanksgiving has been my very favorite holiday for a very long time. I became a vegan in May 2012 and hadn’t really thought much about the holidays until around October. I began to panic and feel anxious about staying true to my new vegan lifestyle. Should I make an exception for Thanksgiving? Would that mean another exception at Christmas? Maybe I could eat vegetarian during the holidays, it’s much easier to avoid meat and still eat eggs, dairy, cheese, etc. But that didn’t feel right to me. I know when I’ve accidentally eaten something with dairy or eggs or cheese in it over the past few months that I’ve felt not only guilty, but have had, shall we say, some physical side effects as well.
Lucky for me, around the time I began to question what I should do, a couple of my favorite bloggers addressed this exact issue! I read a lot of great articles including one on how to navigate the holidays as a vegan and how to enjoy a vegan Thanksgiving. I began to feel less stressed about how to enjoy my favorite holiday and still follow my plant-based diet.
Plus, I have had six months to learn about eating plant-based and making mistakes along the way. I’ve had the chance to cook with new ingredients, learn how to read labels, and explore the vast variety of options that seem to become suddenly available once you follow a vegan diet. (I’ve found the learning curve to be long and steep!) Another factor working in my favor was that for the past few years, I’ve made Thanksgiving dinner. This would make it much easier for me to follow my vegan diet since I will be in control of the ingredients in every dish served for dinner. Now my family is still all omnivores, so there will be a turkey on the table. I have no plans on eating any of it, I will be stuffing my face with all the delicious sides I am preparing. I took my traditional Thanksgiving menu (have I mentioned I’m a tad OCD about things? I keep a folder with all my Thanksgiving recipes) and vegan-ized them all.
Here’s my final menu:
- Pull Apart Dinner Rolls (only change I made to this recipe was to use a flax egg instead of egg replacer, and I ended up with 10 HUGE rolls instead of 12)
- Tahini-Garlic Mashed Potatoes (I did not put sesame seeds on top of mine
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Green Bean Casserole
- Corn Casserole (did not add cheese to mine)
- Cornbread Stuffing (I used homemade veggie broth here instead of chicken and I made a vegan version of the skillet cornbread)
- Cranberry-Pomegranate Sauce (this has been my staple cranberry sauce for last 3 years)
- Mushroom Gravy
- Pumpkin Pie (only used the pumpkin pie filling from the linked recipe)
- Apple Pie (used the apple pie filling recipe, but made my own crumble for top instead of using a crust on top of apples)
- Turkey & Homemade Brine (again, my staple brine recipe, I love Pioneer Woman!)
- Pie Crusts (I could not find pastry flour anywhere and ended up using AP Flour, it worked out just fine!)
Many of these recipes I’ve been making for years and had to tweak a few things to make them 100% plant-based/vegan.
My Thanksgiving dinner preparation began over the weekend. First I do an inventory of what ingredients I have in my fridge, freezer, and cupboards. Then I make a grocery list and head to the store for any needed items.
Monday I chopped all my veggies, put them in containers and into the fridge.
Tuesday I made cornbread for the stuffing, brine for the turkey (which will then hang out in the brine until Thursday morning), and 2 pie crusts.
Wednesday I will make the garlic mashed potatoes, these will then simply need to be heated up in the oven on Thanksgiving. I will also make the sweet potato casserole, minus the topping which will be made and sprinkled on the casserole on Thursday and then into the oven! I will be making both pies (apple and pumpkin) on Wednesday as well. I think pie tastes better the next day. I may make some coconut whip cream for the pies on Thursday, haven’t decided yet. I will also be making my cranberry-pomegranate sauce and dicing up the cornbread and a loaf of French bread to dry and make croutons for my cornbread stuffing.
Thursday it will all (hopefully!) come together. I will cook the turkey, make the mushroom gravy, make the rolls, green bean and the corn casseroles. I will finish the sweet potato casserole and warm up the mashed potatoes.
As of this writing I haven’t decided yet if I am going to run the Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving morning or not, I will let you know if I do.
What’s on your Thanksgiving menu? How long have you eaten a vegan/plant-based diet? Do you do the cooking to ensure it’s vegan-friendly or do you eat what someone else has made and not worry if there’s animal products in it? Let me know!
Edited to add: I did end up running the Turkey Trot 5K, will post my results as soon as they are available on line.