The V Word: Thanksgiving alternatives for vegans

Cooking an impressive meal for the big day, which happens to be vegan, has never been simpler.

click to enlarge Vegan stuffing with lentils, bread cubes, vegetable stock, flax egg and more. - Paige Butterfield
Paige Butterfield
Vegan stuffing with lentils, bread cubes, vegetable stock, flax egg and more.

The spooky costumes have been packed away, the jack-o'-lanterns have decayed and you can't quote the entire Hocus Pocus movie anymore. But for vegans, the horror doesn’t stop after Halloween — it goes straight into Turkey Day.

Who could miss out on the annual cornucopia? Poor vegans and their bleak little salads, roasted vegetable trays, garlic mashed potatoes, creamy green bean casserole… wait, and decadent pecan pie?

Today, a vegan Thanksgiving is a regular ol’ Thanksgiving minus the animal products. With a few tweaks, almost any dish can be made vegan. From swapping almond milk for cow’s to using flax “eggs” in baked goods (one tablespoon of ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water), cooking an impressive meal for the big day, which happens to be vegan, has never been simpler.

Buzzfeed’s uber popular vegan mac and cheese, the Oh She Glows blog’s “saweet!” potato casserole and the Food Network’s vegan pumpkin pie are all front-runners for my spread this year.

“But, it’s not Thanksgiving without a turkey!”

According to the National Turkey Federation, “Turkey production has increased nearly 110 percent since 1970,” and “U.S. growers raised 237.5 million turkeys in 2014.” As the factory farm business booms and investigations by animal rights groups like Mercy for Animals allegedly capture footage of birds’ beaks being cut off sans painkillers, you might want to include “not being a turkey” in your list of things to be thankful for.

The good news? You can skip the meat and still eat enough food to excuse wearing stretchy pants at the table.

For vegans or the veg-curious who want the nostalgic centerpiece without a heaping side of cruelty, try alternative turkeys. Vegetarian Plus’ whole vegan turkey can be found at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s makes a turkey-free stuffed roast, and the Gardein Holiday Roast is available at some Publixs and natural-food markets, to name a few.

Plenty of vegan main dishes without faux turkey are out there, too. Stuffed butternut squash recipes are popping up all over, Terry Walters’ stuffed butternut squash with tempeh among them, as are food formulas for sweet potato tart and souffle.

If you’re one of those people who even fears burning toast (I was sold a faulty toaster, OK?), then put down your mitt. On Nov. 26, Tampa’s ThanksVegan potluck returns. The feast, run by 60 volunteers, will also feature donations from the community, including enough Nature’s Food Patch vegan mashed potatoes and stuffing to feed 300 people, says organizer Joan Zacharias.

I might have to steal the term “ThanksVegan” for my November feasts to come.

Follow Paige Butterfield at

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