Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What Does A Vegan Eat For Thanksgiving?

This post was originally published on November 19, 2012.

As a foodie, Thanksgiving is probably the most challenging of the holidays for me.  Not because I want to eat turkey, but because there is so much focus around eating it.  I grew up in a family where food was the center of every holiday.  My mom and grandmother are amazing cooks.  It just isn't a holiday without spectacular food.  Since becoming vegan, I have thrown my family a major curve ball.  They worry I won't have anything to eat and fret over what to cook for me, while still serving up their traditional non vegan dishes.  Truth: It's hard being vegan during the holidays because you feel like everyone is looking at you like a wet blanket on their lovely holiday.

Well, I am here to prove vegan does not mean tasteless or boring.   I love food so much that the holiday just doesn't sing for me if I am not enjoying a mind blowing culinary experience. Vegan dishes can actually be the centerpiece of the table.  They are always the talk of mine...although, I still cringe when my family tries my dish and say "Mmm, that's good.  It doesn't taste vegan."

Luckily, I love to cook.  I have always contributed to the family holiday meals.  As a vegan, it makes things a little easier, as I know I will always have something to eat.  I am not one to substitute the turkey.  There are tons of faux turkey products, (Tofurky and Field Roast are the most popular), out there and if that's your thing, then by all means go for it.  But me?  I prefer to enjoy the bounty of the season - squashes, sweet potatoes, apples, cranberries, nuts and greens - and turn them into delicious main courses and mouth-watering sides.

If you are planning to cook a vegan Thanksgiving feast or just want some tasty vegan dishes to add to the table, you must check out The Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas, as well as The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.  Here is what I am adding to my family's Thanksgiving table this year:

  • Lentil Loaf (from The Vegan Table) - Click here for the recipe.
  • Massaged Kale Salad with Cranberries and Cashews (from The Vegan Holiday Kitchen) - Click here for the recipe.
  • Brussel Sprouts Salad with Avocado and Sunflower Seeds (adapted from Whole Living's recent issue) - Click here for the recipe.
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Hint of Chocolate (from the Vegan Holiday Kitchen) - Click here for the recipe.
I am also planning to serve up my own single sweet potato topped with Earth Balance and brown sugar, as well as a vegan version of mashed potatoes...for me, it's not Thanksgiving without a load of starch!  In past years, I have cooked tempeh with a maple pecan coating, which makes a great "main meal" instead of turkey.

You might also check out Veg News' November 13th Newsletter.  It includes some fantastic Thanksgiving Day recipes from Appetizers to Desserts, proving that a vegan Thanksgiving is far from flavorless.

Aside from the food, I am looking forward to the time spent with family, and the forced opportunity to give pause to contemplate all that we are grateful for.  I plan to make the "Grateful" wreath (pictured above) from Family Fun magazine, with my kiddos as well make the paper turkey legs for a Drumstick Hunt.