Being a vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up your Thanksgiving dinner. There are plenty of people who do it meat free for a variety of reasons.
As a vegan, though, you have to give up all meat products. This isn’t just about animals that are killed for your meals, but also about anything that comes from animals, including cheese, milk, and eggs.
The great news is that there are alternatives to that turkey dinner, your usually beef gravy, any meat stuffing, and even desserts. Sometimes you have to get a little creative, but your guests will hardly tell the difference. In some cases, you just look like you’ve switched the turkey for beef!
Here’s a look at eight delicious Thanksgiving meal alternatives for vegans. Which one will you add to your repertoire this year?
Let’s Get Started
For many families, a started is often soup or a prawn cocktail. Well, the prawns are out, so what options do you have for your soup? Why not opt for something that is in season and absolutely delicious. A butternut squash soup is warm, tasty, and perfect to get your guests ready for the main course.
Not only is this soup vegan-friendly, but also gluten free. It’s also low in calories, which is perfect for those who are on a diet.
- A butternut squash
- An apple
- A carrot
- An onion
- Garlic to taste
- A jalapeno pepper (optional)
- Some spices of your choosing
- Vegetable stock
- Lime juice
If you have a slow cooker, this is great. Put all the ingredients in and mix together. You can leave it in the slow cooker on a high heat for around 3 hours and on a low heat for around 6 hours. Just blend once cooked, and you’ll have a thick and delicious soup
For those cooking on the hob, you’ll need to add a bit of extra vegetable stock. You won’t need too much of it when it comes to slow cooker since none of the liquid can evaporate out. Just do the same as the slow cooker, but you’ll find that it takes a little less time.
Those who like their soup creamy can add some coconut cream to the mixture. This is a great alternative to traditional heavy cream that is added to these types of soups. You can also add some curry powder for a little kick.
Serve with cilantro sprinkled on the top and kept the coconut cream for those who would like to add it afterward.
Get a Turkey—a Vegan Turkey
Who said that your Thanksgiving dinner had to look any different to a normal one? There are now vegan turkeys available. They look just like a whole turkey but don’t come with any of the animal produce inside them. You’ll barely taste the difference when it comes to serving with everything else.
These turkeys are made with wheat protein and soy. It’s all put together in the shape of a traditional bird, and you’ll be able to serve 8-10 people with just one of them. You’ll have plenty leftover the next day for your vegan turkey sandwiches or vegan turkey curries.
VegeUSA sells many of the vegan turkeys, but they are becoming more widely available in local vegan-friendly stores.
Or Opt for the Tofurky
And then there is the Tofurky, which has been around for decades. This is an extremely popular options for vegans and vegetarians when it comes to Thanksgiving.
The downside to this one is that the non-meat version doesn’t look like a traditional bird. It’s clear that you have something different this year.
However, the upside is you won’t need to make any of the other trimmings. The roast comes with everything you’re going to need, whether you love your gravy (mushroom, of course!) or need the stuffing (made with wild rice) for your side. The stuffing in inside the fake turkey, so every gets just enough for their meal.
The Tofurky is made with tofu and wheat gluten, so there is the downside of not being gluten free. It is big enough to feed the whole family and more, making sure you have plenty left over for your sandwiches the next day.
Oh, and if you’re missing the wishbone this year because of going vegan, the Tofurky has you covered. It comes with a Tofurky Jurky Wishstix. It’s not quite the same thing, but it gives you something that resembles a wishbone.
Don’t Forget Your Own Stuffing
If you’re not opting for the Tofurky, you will need to think about some stuffing. It’s a staple at many Thanksgiving dinners but traditionally uses sausage meat to create. There are a few boxed options, but you’ll need to check exactly what’s included in them. They may say “sage and onion” or other vegetables, but there may be some animal products.
With this recipe, you’ll know that you’re definitely only getting vegetables. This is an onion, mushroom, and celery stuffing. Not only is it full of nutrients for you, but it’s filling and great for your sandwiches the next day. That’s if there’s anything left!
- 2tbsp oil
- 4tbsp vegan butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 sticks of celery, chopped
- 8oz button mushrooms, ch opped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1tsp sage
- 1tsp thyme
- 1/2tsp rosemary
- 1/2tsp oregano
- 1/8tsp nutmeg
- 1tsp salt
- 1tsp pepper
- ¼ fresh chopped parsley
- 8 cups bread cubes
- 4-5 cups vegetable broth
- 1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
- 2. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet until melted. Add the onion and celery. Cook for 4 minutes.
- 3. Add the mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes before adding the seasonings and garlic.
- 4. Add the parsley and bread cubes. Mix completely.
- 5. Add the broth until bread cubes are soft (not wet).
- 6. Remove the bay leaf and allow the mixture to cool.
- 7. Transfer to a casserole dish brushed with oil.
- 8. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the dish around and cook for 5 minutes.
Your stuffing is ready to be served. This is one that you can enjoy hot or cold. It’s so great because there’s a crispiness to the outside while being soft and moist inside.
You Can Have Some “Buttermilk” Biscuits
Who said the biscuits were off the table this Thanksgiving? There are vegan alternatives to this delicious side option. Some of the ingredients can take a while to find in your local store but just ask for help because most places have it all somewhere now.
Ingredients that need to curdle:
- 1 cup almond milk, cold
- 1tsp vinegar
Ingredients for the biscuits:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup pastry flour, preferably whole-wheat
- 2.5tsp baking powder
- 0.5tsp baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 5tbsp vegan butter or vegetable shortening
- 1. Preheat the oven to 450F.
- 2. Mix your butter into the flour until there’s a coarse mixture.
- 3. Add the curdled milk mixture. You’ll need to mix quickly to create the perfect dough.
- 4. Create balls of dough, cover with some plastic wrap and then place in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
- 5. Roll your dough balls out flat with about a half inch of thickness. Cut the biscuits with a round cooking cutter. You can make extra biscuits with the discarded pastry.
- 6. Place on a baking tray.
- 7. Use some olive oil or almond milk to brush over the top of the biscuits, so they’re golden when they come out.
- 8. Bake for around 12 minutes.
- 9. Allow to cool before serving.
Nobody will ever know the difference between these and normal buttermilk biscuits. They are also great snacks during the Thanksgiving holidays and kids love to help out making them.
Don’t Forget the Cranberry Sauce
So, you could just go to the store and get a cranberry sauce. The majority of them are vegan-friendly, but there are the odd ones that are problems. Watch out!
Instead of just buying anything from the store, why don’t you make your own? You can make an orange and cranberry sauce, which works perfectly with vegan turkeys. People will be queuing up to find out how you made it, but you don’t have to tell them that it’s one of the easiest prepared dishes for the meal.
All you’ll need is some oranges, cranberries, and maple syrup. Yes, that really is all!
- 2 cups fresh/frozen cranberries
- ½ a cup of orange juice
- 1tbsp orange zest
- 2tbsp maple syrup
- 1. Place all the fruit ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
- 2. Lower the heat to a simmer and keep like that for around 10 minutes. The cranberries will turn soft.
- 3. Take off the heat and add in the syrup.
This is best served warm, so make it the last thing that you cook for your alternative Thanksgiving dinner.
What About the Gravy?
So, we’ve got your faux turkey, the stuffing, and the cranberry sauce. It seems like you’ve got everything right? The gravy is one of the most forgotten things when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner.
Most gravies are made with the juices of the turkey or from a beef stock cube. This doesn’t have to be the case. Mushroom gravies are highly popular, and not just in vegan or vegetarian households. They’re super simple to make and taste much better than the animal versions.
- 1 cup of vegetable broth
- 2tbsp soy sauce
- 8oz variety of mushrooms, sliced and stemmed
- 2tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2tsp basil
- 1. Add the broth and sauce in a saucepan and simmer. Add in the mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes.
- 2. Add some water to the cornstarch to allow it to dissolve. Whisk in when the broth is steadily simmering. Continue to whisk until thick.
This is another one of those options that need to be served while hot. Make sure you add it to your list of things to do at the end because it will only take around 15 minutes to prepare and make. Do this as the very last thing after the cranberry sauce or at the same time if you’re good at multitasking.
Where’s the Dessert?
You’ve had your starter and the main meal, now it’s time for a delicious vegan-friendly dessert. The best thing is you don’t just have to offer a bowl of soup with some vegan-friendly ice cream or cream. You can create your own delicious bread pudding with a twist.
Pumpkins are in season for this time of year, so use them to your advantage. Create this Pumpkin Bread Pudding for your family.
- 1/2lb of crusty bread cut into 1in cubes
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1tbsp cornstarch
- ½ cup of brown sugar
- 3/4tsp cinnamon, ground
- 3/4tsp nutmeg, ground
- 1/2tsp ginger, ground
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup non-dairy milk, plain
- 1tbsp dark rum
- ¼ cup of crystallized ginger chopped finely
- Vegan-friendly ice cream and caramel sauce
- 1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease your baking dish lightly.
- 2. Whisk your puree, cornstarch, spices, salt, and sugar in a bowl.
- 3. Add the milk and rum when combined and stir well.
- 4. Add in the bread cubes and ginger, stirring gently with a wide spatula.
- 5. Pour your mixture into your baking dish. Bake for around 45 minutes. The edges will be harder than the middle.
Allow this to cool before serving. You can slice into squares and add your ice cream and caramel sauce on top. You could also make your own vegan-friendly custard if you want to serve the whole dessert warm.
Have the Perfect Vegan-Friendly Thanksgiving With Meal Alternatives
There you are. There really is no reason to miss out on your traditional Thanksgiving dinner. These are just some great alternatives available to help you make it look like you’re enjoying the exact same as everyone else.
The benefit is that you’re getting something much healthier. Sure, turkey is a healthy meat, but there are still fats in the skin and certain parts of the bird. With your vegan alternatives, you’ll get something that is full of nutritional goodness and barely any of the bad.
Don’t forget to keep the recipes if you want to share them with your friends. They will ask for them! Or you can just keep them locked away and promise to share them one day—in a few years from now.