The countdown to Thanksgiving is on and I’m dreaming of all of the amazing food and conversation and naps to be had!
There are so many great memories of Thanksgivings past I could share with you, but one in particular that I’ll never forget is the year I walked into the Thanksgiving feast shortly after having become a vegetarian. As the turkey was being carved and the ham pulled from the oven, everyone stopped in a panic. “Oh no! We forgot… what are you going to eat?” “Should we order something?” “We can run out and get you something special, honey.”
What my family didn’t realize is how much I actually could eat – because they’re amazing and bring along so many side dishes – so it all worked out. However, I’m sure there are some families out there that don’t (unknowingly) bring along quite as many vegetarian or vegan friendly side options.
For this reason, I thought I’d share a few quick tips (and lots of recipes!) to help you make your Thanksgiving feast a little more inviting to those guests who don’t eat meat.
First and foremost, it would benefit you to know whether your animal-loving friend or family member is an ovo-lacto vegetarian, strict vegetarian, or completely vegan. This will determine whether you should be finding alternatives for the likes of eggs and dairy, or if those are in the “safe zone.”
10 Tips for Hosting a Vegetarian-Friendly Thanksgiving
1. SWAP THE STOCK. If a recipe calls for chicken stock or broth, swap it out for vegetable stock or broth. I promise you won’t lose out on flavor!
2. HOLD THE HAM (OR BACON.) Something I do regularly run into is having to pass on green bean casseroles and other dishes that are sprinkled with ham or bacon to enhance the flavor. If you don’t want to leave it out entirely, consider making half the dish with and half without, or replacing real bacon strips or bits with vegan or imitation bacon.
3. LOSE THE LARD. Several baking recipes call for shortening or lard (animal fat), but this can easily be replaced with vegetable shortening. | See other alternatives.
4. EXIT THE EGGS.* There are several substitutes for eggs in baked good recipes. One of my go-tos is applesauce! | See more alternatives.
5. BE-GONE THE BUTTER.* As with eggs, many recipes will turn out just as well if you swap butter for a non-dairy replacement, like vegetable oil, or a plant-based butter replacement. | See more alternatives here.
6. GO VEGGIE CRAZY. There are so many ways to prepare vegetables (roasted, steamed, in a casserole, in the crock pot…) Having a selection of veggie side dishes during holiday dinners is a vegetarian’s dream come true!
7. BRING ON THE SNACKS. A veggie and fruit tray, cheese, olives, and crackers, and other snackable appetizers are smart to have for any gathering, and allow vegetarians to grab a little something extra to tide them over if there isn’t much by way of main course dishes.
8. CHUCK THE CHEESE.* Plenty of recipes can be altered to hold the cheese or sub it out for vegan friendly options (like plant-based cheese substitutes or nutritional yeast.) Consider making half the dish with cheese and half without or having guests sprinkle cheese atop whatever dish it is themselves. | See more alternatives.
9. GET THE 411. Reach out to your vegetarian or vegan guests (or any guests with dietary restrictions) and ask them what’s off limits. Don’t hesitate to ask them to bring a few dishes along themselves, and inquire about anything you could make or request other guests bring. Knowledge is power!
10. MIND YOUR MANNERS. One or two jokes aimed at the vegetarian at the table is funny. To keep making it a topic of conversation (“too bad you can’t try the turkey, you’re missing out!” “does my eating this ham offend you?” “are you ever gonna eat meat again?” “but what CAN you eat?”) is not fun, unless they are clearly welcoming of it. Chances are, the vegetarian isn’t pestering you about your hatred of olives or cranberries or salads, or your gluten allergy or paleo diet, so he or she shouldn’t have to keep explaining their decision to forego the meat, right?
* Again, keep in mind that many vegetarians DO eat dairy products and eggs, so determine what level of vegetarian/vegan your guest is before cutting these out entirely!
Vegetarian-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes
Whew! With all of that being said, here are some vegetarian and vegan-friendly recipes, perfect for Thanksgiving, that sound absolutely delightful:
- Hearty Potato + Leek Soup
- Vegan Caesar Salad
- Sweet Potato Lentil Stew
- Fancy Mushroom Bruschetta
- Vegan Spinach Dip
- Cornbread Bites
- Savory Party Bread
- Vegan Mozzarella, Cherry + Tomato Skewers
- Crispy Smashed Potatoes + Avocado Garlic Aioli
- Provençal Vegetable Tart
- Veggie Lasagna
- Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
- Roasted Vegan Thanksgiving Bowl
- Homemade Pumpkin Ravioli
- Sweet Potato Crusted Spinach Quiche
- Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
- Vegan Thanksgiving Wraps
- Kale-Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms
- Warm Fig, Apple + Gorgonzola Flatbread
- Thanksgiving Leftover Veggie Burger
- Easy Mashed Cauliflower
- Slow Cooker Mac + Cheese
- Triple Herb Overnight Dinner Rolls
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes + Mushroom Gravy
- Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Broccoli Rabe + Garlic Sage Butter Sauce
- Green Bean Casserole with Goat Cheese, Almonds + Smoked Paprika
- Pecan Butter Brussel Sprouts
- Old-Fashioned Potato Bread Stuffing
- Cranberry Sauce with Port + Cinnamon
- Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce
- Pumpkin Blondies
- Cranberry + White Chocolate Scones
- Granny’s Apple Crisp
- Zucchini Bread
- Vegan Caramel Peanut Butter Truffles
- Jewel Fruit Tart with Caramel Almond Filling
- Vegan + Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie
- Sinless Sticky Toffee Pecan Pudding
- No-Bake Double Chocolate Torte
- Bite-Size Caramel Apples
- Apple Cider Moscow Mule
- Cozy Vanilla Chai Cocktail
- Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate
- Spiced Cider Punch
- Cranberry Cinnamon Cocktail
- Vegan Chai Hot Chocolate
- Pumpkin Martini
- Thanksgiving Punch
- Autumn Sangria
- Vegan Butterbeer
So, who’s hungry?! I hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving this year, friends!
First two images via Pexels.