Help! A Vegetarian is Coming to Thanksgiving Dinner

Picture this: your sister-in-law/nephew/neighbor/brother’s new girlfriend is vegetarian/vegan and they’re coming to your house for Thanksgiving. When it comes to making veg* versions of our favorite holiday meals, most people don’t even know where to begin. That’s okay! The good news is I’ve got some tips to help you survive a diversified Thanksgiving menu, and also, vodka is vegan. So, pour a drink and let’s get to cookin’.

Let’s start with the hardest part first: the main dish.  

Skip trying to make a tofu/nut/grain/bean loaf yourself (gross) and go straight for the pre-made items. Save your time and your guest’s taste buds. 

Classics include Tofurkey’s roast and Field Roast’s 1 lb Roast and Gardein’s Turkey roast or cutlets. These pre-made main dishes are easy to prepare, inexpensive (~10 dollars each), and available at most every Hy-Vee, Sprouts or Whole Foods in the metro. Your veg* guests will love the savory deliciousness reminiscent of holidays past.

Please don't serve your veg- guests cold vegetables.

Next up: side dishes.

Some simple swaps like cooking green beans in veggie broth or using a veg* cream of mushroom soup are easy ways to make veg* side dishes everyone can enjoy. Some side dishes are naturally veg* – sweet potatoes, rolls and cranberry sauce to name a few.

Other side dishes might require a little work to replicate for your veg* guests. Fortunately for you, folks who have been eating veg* for a while are used to not having much to eat at holiday gatherings, so even minimal effort to accommodate them will go a lllloonnnggg way in making them feel welcome. It helps to have guests with low expectations!

Traditional mac n’cheese will be fine for your vegetarian guests, but for your vegan family members, try Daiya’s Cheesy Mac – scout’s honor, it’s easier to prepare than traditional mac n’cheese and it tastes awesome. Need stuffing? Substitute veggie broth and if you’re making it from a box, check to make sure chicken isn’t an ingredient.   

Mashed potatoes on the menu? Vegan butter is easy to find and use in all your family’s recipes. For what it’s worth, Earth Balance is my favorite, but many brands have their own version. Rice and/or cashew milks taste most like the dairy version – but be sure to get unsweetened or you’re in for some really interesting flavors!

To top it all off, mushroom gravy is where it’s at, y’all. Easy to buy or make from scratch (if you’re fancy like that!).

Homemade Thanksgiving Stuffing

Finally: dessert.

So many veg* deserts are easy to make and universally loved. Fruit cobblers are quick to throw together and this pumpkin pie recipe guarantees a fuss-free dessert for your holiday meals. Trying to substitute for eggs in a dish? An 89 cent can of garbanzo beans is your best bet. The water from those beans is called aquafaba and it’s an amazing alternative to eggs used in baking. Chocoholic in the family? Try this 30-minute vegan fudge!

Bonus: after dinner drinks

This new almond milk Bailey’s is a surefire way to win over any veg* guests lucky enough to have you cooking for them! Cheers!  

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One Response to Help! A Vegetarian is Coming to Thanksgiving Dinner

  1. roger November 18, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

    A lot of vegetarians hate eating vegetarian facsimiles of a food they dislike, namely, meat. If you hate broccoli, would you like a meat dish that tastes like broccoli?
    You are right in saying vegetarians often are not demanding guests.
    One of the greatest and simplest courtesies to offer a vegetarian is to avoid bringing to the table something too gory such as ribs and other bony or bleedy stuff. They are kind people who would rather not have to stare at the gory remains of a sentient creature, and the entire world can use more compassion.