I think there are probably as many answers to this question as there are vegans. :-)
I've been vegan for about 17 or 18 years, and I actually do make a homemade tofurkey for Thanksgiving every year. My kids nicknamed it Mount Vesuvius.
I actually love the store-bought Tofurkey gravy, except when they changed it and started adding mushrooms, because I hate them. I sitll buy it and use it for Thanksgiving rather than making my own (which I used to do), and just pick out all the mushrooms.
I don't buy it or eat it often, but I love the store-bought Tofurkey, too. If you cook it right, it's tender and delicious. The key is to baste it well and cover it tightly while it's cooking. Obviously it's not everyone's cup of tea, but everyone in my family likes it--including my husband who is a meat eater (but he will eat almost anything).
Besides the homemade tofurkey, I make the same stuffing that my mother always made except that I use a small amount of olive oil instead of tons of butter. I also cook squash (often stuffed squash), make mashed potatoes, and we have apple pie or something along those lines.
If my kids weren't so stuck on the tofurkey, I'd probably just make stuffed squash and mashed potatoes and other veggie dishes.
I also sometimes make a gluten roast which I love and would work for a big dinner like this, but I don't think I've ever made it for Thanksgiving.
I've hosted several vegans over Christmas and not Thanksgiving but they were still expecting a hearty meal. I made many snacks/appetizers in additional to non-vegan/veg ones. The vegan ones included spiced nuts, a 7-layer dip with toasted seasoned pita, vegan chex mix (since in my family there's no such thing as a holiday without such a thing), and a mushroom crostini.The first course was a vegan onion soup where I used veggie broth and olive oil instead of butter or beef broth and a charcuterie plate with plenty of vegan options (threw in vegan sausage and all with pickled veggies and bread on the side). For dinner itself I had a mesclun salad with pears, cranberries and walnuts, mashed potatoes made with almond milk and vegan butter (no one noticed the difference), roasted root veggies, homemade cranberry sauce, raclette w/ accompaniments for non-vegans (raclette on christmas is a family tradition) and lots of desserts. I made several vegan desserts like oatmeal chocolate cranberry cookies, vegan blondies and vegan chocolate pie in addition to non-vegan desserts (pie, cake and cookies. I may have also made truffles, I don't remember if it was then or another time).
For some reason, this was easier for me than cooking a full holiday dinner for a whole omnivorous group.
Woops! Edit to add the vegan mains. I made a vegan risotto and a vegan lasagna.
I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and her family has a vegetarian early Thanksgiving family reunion.
The centerpiece of the meal was a giant, hollowed out pumpkin, in which she put milk and herbs before baking it and then scooping the meat into the milky herb mixture to make what was essentially a bisque. I won't ruin the story, but she says she did it because even though they weren't having turkey she was compelled to have a large food centerpiece around which to construct her meal.
Of course, milk-based bisque is not vegan, but a creamy pumpkin soup can easily be made without milk. I would put good vegetable stock and chopped up vegetables into the pumpkin to bake, then scoop the cooked pumpkin meat into the soup and blend everything with an immersion blender. It would be a very impressive display piece!
Last year we had a vegan Tgiving.
Risotto made with water and parmesan, old school Italian simple and amazing
Stuffed eggplants with pinenuts
Caramelized brussel sprouts
Grill Portobellos after tossing w/ Sherry Vinegar & EVO
Roast Butternut Squash/Garlic heads/Red Onion
Braised Kale with Cannellinnis
Italian Greens Pie
Lots and lots of sides! They are the best part of the meal anyway.
I am not vegan but here are some of my favourite vegan-friendly recipes.
Wild Rice With Butternut Squash, Leeks, and Corn
Cooking Light's Braised Lentils With Cloves
Roasted Broccoli With Garlic and Red Pepper
Carrots and Brussels Sprouts - Use Earth Balance instead of butter.
Roasted Kabocha Squash With Cumin Salt
Succotash of Fresh Corn, Lima Beans, Tomatoes and Onions
Roasted Parsnips With Parsley
Suzanne Goin's Long Cooked Cavolo Nero / Tuscan Kale
Patricia Well's Bistro Potatoes Sauteed With Garlic & Walnut Oil
Roasted Root Vegetables with Thyme and Marjoram Vinaigrette
Honey-Glazed Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
Creamy Tofu Savory Sauce - Great for dipping cooked or raw veggies, pouring on potatos, rice, anything... It's really, really addictively good!
Roasted Vegetable Gravy
Also, epicurious.com has a lot of vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes; many can be easily made vegan. For example:
Rustic Porcini Onion Stuffing
Here are some more vegan Thanksgiving ideas:
Hope this helps. Good luck!
I don't care for Tofurkey, and hated the Celebration Roast thing mentioned above. However, I think vegetarians deserve protein, not just side dishes. I ran across an interesting recipe for homemade vegetarian turkey (seitan-based) that is probably way better than the processed products. Scroll down on this link to see the recipe. http://www.theholidayspot.com/thanksg...
For a vegan entree, I would highly recommend Chow.com's Celery Root and Squash Gratin with Walnut-Thyme Streusel. Their recipe is vegetarian, not vegan, but I've converted it to vegan and gluten-free here: http://inmybox.wordpress.com/2008/12/06/the-elephant-on-the-table/ (scroll down for recipe) If you don't need to do gluten-free, just use regular (vegan) bread crumbs instead of GF ones. We made this last year and everyone at the table - vegans and meat-eaters alike - could not get enough of it. It's very rich, too, so a little portion goes a long way.
As far as the rest of the meal, here is the menu from last year's Thanksgiving, which was both vegan and gluten-free:
Mushroom-walnut pate with Mary’s GF onion crackers
Homemade turnip pickles and sweet-and-spicy zucchini pickles
Blue corn muffins with green chiles
Pumpkin soup with coconut cream
Butternut squash and celeriac gratin with walnut-thyme streusel
Chard with pine nuts and raisins
Banana, sweet potato, and pomegranate casserole
Mashed potatoes with shallots and shitake mushroom gravy
Canned cranberry sauce (gotta have it!
Poached pears in spiced red wine syrup
Chocolate mousse with whipped cream and fruit preserves
Photos and recipes are on my blog: http://inmybox.wordpress.com/2008/11/...
Last year we made a curried pumpkin soup, a green salad, and for the entree: Pecan encrusted tofu (make a crumb mixture of pecans, oatmeal, a little flour, paprika, S&P in the food processor, then coat slices of tofu with this mixture, mist with a little olive oil, and bake!-- this is also great with other nuts, pistachio being my favorite), chipotle-cranberry sauce that I purchased, mashed sweet potatoes, and grilled broccolini. And of course Mom made an apple and dried cherry pie for dessert!
For something somewhat traditional, I've stuffed acorn squash with a simple bread dressing made with veggie stock and poultry seasoning, dried or fresh cranberries (go easy on the fresh...pretty easy to overpower the dressing) and a little chopped seitan and baked it until the squash was tender.
What about Polenta Gratin with Mushroom Bolognese (scroll down for recipe)
I made the polenta recipe the Marcella Hazan way (see Epicurious: Creamy Polenta) but followed the rest of the above recipe exactly. It was fantastic. Just skip the parm and butter for the vegan version and of course sub veg broth for the chicken. Filling and so so delicious.
If you are looking for a prepared entree try the Celebration Roast by fieldroast.com - I've worked in the natural food industry for years and this is leaps & bounds better than Quorn, Tofurky, etc. It looks good, tastes great. My opinion of most of the fake meat products is why bother, but this is one to try. They also make a number of "sausages" which are very tasty. But you do need to be sure not to over cook since they are so lean. If you are cooking from scratch the Moosewood cookbooks are always reliable & will have some vegan options. The newer books tend to be less labor intensive than the older ones.
I'm with Karl on this one - Thanksgiving for me has always been about the side-dishes: green beans, mashed potatoes, salads, stuffing... Yum!
I'm vegan, and my partner makes an amazing vegan stuffing from scratch, toasting the breadcrumbs herself, chopping the celery, soaking everything in vegetable broth... It's so good, in fact, that we're asked to bring it to our family's thanksgiving dinner every year.
Which brings up another idea for you, if you're hosting vegans but aren't sure what to cook: perhaps you could handle the "easier" side-dish stuff (vegetables, salad) and let your vegan guests bring whatever main-dish equivalent they want to eat. We've known many very nice people who have knocked themselves out trying to "cook vegan" for us, and the fact is, when you're not accustomed to cooking vegan, you're probably not going to be that successful at it.
When we're invited anywhere, we always offer to bring our own main dish (with enough for everyone to share, if they'd like to taste what those crazy vegans are eating). This ensures two things: our host is relieved of the struggle to find something for us to eat, and we know we'll be well fed.
I have made this on a number of holiday occasions, and the biggest problem has been getting the non-vegetarians to stay away from it so there is enough for the vegetarians! Of course, i am not vegan, so instead of tofu i use brie, but other than that it still is a nice and very pretty dish:
Roast Vegetables & Smoked Tofu Plait
16 oz of wild mushrooms, sliced
1 medium courgette, sliced
1 medium aubergine, cut into 1 cm/ 1/2" cubes
225g/8oz shallots, peeled and cut in half (or quarters depending on size)
8 cloves smoked garlic, peeled and left whole
225g/8oz smoked tofu, cut into small cubes
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons pine nuts
450g/1lb puff pastry, thawed if frozen
flour for rolling out
1 free range egg, lightly beaten or 1 tablespoon soya flour and 2 tablespoons water* sesame or poppy seeds to decorate
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6
2. Arrange the vegetables on a baking tray together with the smoked tofu.
Drizzle with olive oil and bake in the preheated oven until the vegetables are tender and starting to char slightly. Season and leave to cool.
3. Gently toast the pine nuts under the grill until golden. Mix into the vegetables.
4. Roll out the pastry 225g/8oz at a time on a floured surface, to an oblong 20 x 32cm/8 x 13in and place on a greased baking tray. Arrange half the filling down the centre of each piece. Cut strips 1cm /1/2in wide on either side of the filling leaving 1cm /1/2in uncut on either side of the filling. Bring alternate strips over to enclose the filling, securing with egg wash or soya flour paste*.
5. Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash or soya paste* and decorate with sesame or poppy seeds.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until crisp, well risen and golden.
7. Note: If you prefer you could use marinated tofu in place of smoked or for a non-vegan version you could leave out the tofu and top the vegetables with pieces of Brie just before enclosing the filling in the pastry.
I have also made a "mushroom wellington" with mashed potatoes, cashew paste, wild mushrooms, encased in puff pastry. also very successful
When I was vegan - :( no more...
I would make vegetarian pot pies. One I would top with pie crust, another w/potato. It's always a big hit for anyone because most get tired of eating meats, esp. turkey during this time of year.
I buy Pillsbury deep dish pie shells - made w/vege oil and not lard! Bake the bottom tart/pie shell first then fill. It won't get soggy this way. Use big hunks of veges for texture and portobello mushrooms instead of buttom ones. Way yummy. You can also make vege meatloaf to accompany - Gimme Lean Beef. http://lightlife.com. I make this like one would prepare a traditional meat loaf but w/o bread crumbs. My beef eating hubby also likes this - yummy! :) Good Luck
I was a vegan for a while and have always LOVED Thanksgiving and love a traditional Thanksgiving, at that. I'm not going to defend Tofurkey anymore, but that was (and is) always an option. Additionally, we would always have a fabulous nutloaf. We used (and still use) the one from Rose Elliot's Complete Vegetarian, and, when I was a vegan, we replaced butter w/ oil and the eggs w/ egg replacer. It is a very, very elegant main dish: looks gorgeous, tastes fabulous and can be made into sandwiches the next day. Always wild rice and mushrooms and a traditional stuffing (sans neck 'n' gizzards and using vegetarian "chicken" broth) and some sort of bread. Mashed potatoes w/ soy margerine and plain soy milk w/ veggie gravy (It's almost not worth it to do a homemade veggie gravy. You MUST do a homemade meat-based gravy, but for veggies canned or mix works, as does turning vegetable broth into a gravy by starting w/ a roux). Roasted root veggies. Pecan pie made w/ an oil crust. Apple pie made w/ an oil crust and margerine.
Now I'm merely a vegetarian and I eat what everyone else eats on Thanksgiving except the turkey and turkey gravy and the benecked stuffing.
I love fake meat. 1) There are some recipes, for one thing, that call for something w/ that meaty texture. 2) hubby eats meat and likes fake meat better than no meat at home. 3) The tradition. Hot "dogs" on the fourth o' july, "turkey" on Thanksgiving, "beef" wellingtons (well, we use baked tofu, not really a fake meat) for christmas.
Not necessarily if the principle is that you don't want to harm animals or you want to help preserve the environment or you don't want to be exposed to the hormones and pesticides in meat or if you don't believe in factory farming or if you don't want to support slaughterhouses and their poor working conditions.
If the principle is "Don't like meat," then that would be different.
I don't think of the fake meats as substitutes for meat. I sometimes make a sandwich with just veggies or veggies & hummus, but sometimes the fake meat slices fit nicely on the bread. I doubt they taste like meat--just something convenient for a sandwich--same with veggie burgers. I don't like the ones that look or taste too much like meat, but otherwise, they are something convenient to put on a bun--especially if going to a barbecue with non-vegans/vegetarians. My son was raised vegan and he loves the fake meats. For him they're not a substitute for anything.
Main dish would be "neatloaf" from http://www.vegan-food.net/recipe/1177... served with a really tasty "miso gravy" from the New Now & Zen Epicure cookbook.
Sides would include roasted brussel sprouts, steamed green beans, mashed sweet potato; and for dessert, tofu pumpkin pie.
a friend and i once collaborated on a savory vegan pie to for a dinner w/ a visiting vegan. she made a crust using vegetable shortning and i made a filling by 1st sauteeing lots of fresh fall vegetables, pre-cooked beans, garlic, spices, in olive oil. then we ssembled and baked.
let me tell you, when that pie was open, the birds (and dinner guests) began to sing!
I had Quorn roast last year and it was amazingly white-meat-like. I really liked it.
I have often made a recipe from Moosewood - the restaurant cookbook, not the first hand-lettered one - called (I dare you not to snicker) Buddha's Jewels.
It is mashed up tofu combined with water chestnuts, diced bell peppers, green onions, parsley, soy sauce and a bit of peanut butter, then rolled into balls and baked. Served with a good sweet and sour sauce. I like the sweet and sour recipe that I make it all the time for other things.
curried squash soup
roasted vegetables & polenta with wild mushroom gravy
fresh cranberry/orange relish, maple syrup or balsamic glazed fall fruits, walnut & wild rice/regular rice/barley pilafs cooked in savory broths with herbs, big leafy salads with roasted beets & nuts,
tarts & pies & cookies, baked apples
most vegan food is really just FOOD that doesn't happen to contain any meat, dairy, or honey. Don't complicate it too much & you'll be fine.
Although I'm a big omnivore, I do recall enjoying several servings of a lentil loaf made for vegetarians one T-day. I've never tried "neatloaf," but some veggie friends have given it the thumbs up. I wouldn't necessarily stick to a traditional T-day theme if I was serving vegan guests, but instead would make something savory like a Thai coconut curry. Pureed white beans are also on the creamy side, you could start with a soup made of them.
I love butter but I had a room mate who was far and a way a much better baker than I will ever be. He was lactose intolerant and made all of his baked goods with non-dairy "butter," it may have been Willow Run brand but I can't remember and soy milk. I still can't believe how well all of his baked goods came out, he made cobblers, coffee cakes, cakes, cookies, etc.
I really don't know a whole lot about the vegan diet, but there's a vegetarian menu for Thanksgiving in the November issue of Martha Stewart Living. Everything looks and sounds out of this world! Menu: Quinoa Pie with Butternut Squash, Poached Egg with Baked Yogurt and Watercress, and Lentil Pate
As a side note to the following, TJ's sells a great soy cheese blend, that I just love.
I'd suggest stewed rhubarb or strawberries with reduced balsamic and black pepper for dessert. Even baked apples are light and great following a starch heavy meal.
I had a great yam puree that had been pureed with pecan meats, cinnamon, sweetener of some sort, and soy milk.
Second the rec for polenta with balsamic grilled vegetables, particularly portabellos that have a meaty texture.
Depending upon how out of your way you want to go, lentils are great, some sort of lentils cooked with spices/herbs, onions and carrots into a more watery stewish concoction. Also, quinoa is a great protein grain popular among vegans and others.
Don't knock Tofurky - I had it one year and it was quite good (except for the 'gravy' which was awful....make one with veggie broth and wine for your vegan guests!!)
A roasted pepper soup or vegan pumpkin soup would be nice to start with.
Mashed potatoes are fantastic made with olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper.
Dressing can be made with veggie broth, cranberries and pecans.
Lot's of veggies.
Of course homemade cranberry sauce.
Quinoa salad of some type is a nice addition for thanksgiving.
We always have a fruit salad. My favorite is to take a big glass bowl and layer strawberries, halved grapes, kiwi, and oranges and then toss with orange juice and honey mixed together right before you serve it.
I'm no good with vegan desserts, however.
Some years ago our DD, a newly-minted vegeterian, came home from college for Thanksgiving, and brought a vegeterian friend with her.
I went 20 miles out of my way, to Whole Foods in Troy, MI., to get a Toferky so they could join in the celebration of the season with the rest of her family, without violating their gastronomic principles. Dear wife followed prep and cooking instructions for the Toferky E-X-A-C-T-L-Y.
On first taste of this dish, DD and guest gagged. Let me emphasize that: they gagged. Then laughed. Then apologized for their inability to eat this very expensive offering. And moments later dipped their forks into the yams, mashed potatos, green bean cassarole, cheesy mac, bisquits, and pumpkin pie and pronounced themselves "bursting".
This left me with the enduring impression that some vegeterian and vegan foods are simply unfit for human consumption.
I should add one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes is mashed rutabagas & potatoes: if you added some apple, it is a version of Himmel und Erde (Heaven and Earth...hint, hint). You could even add or substitute sweet potato for potato and perhaps pear for the apple. Add salt, pepper, freshly grated nutmeg, cardomom, et cet. After mashing, you'd put it in a casserole dish to caramelize a bit under heat. Too many people ignore how wonderful rutabagas can be when treated right; I much prefer them to real turnips; the rutabagas are nuttier and less prone to pepperiness/bitterness.
Definitely no tofurky. It sounds horrible, looks scary, and there's as Karl S pointed out, Thanksgiving is definitely more about bounties of fall rather than turkey.
I would definitely several dishes that feature corn, squash, and beans - the classic three sisters. Any bean soup or chili with vegan cornbread can be a good idea. Wild rice and gourmet mushrooms is a popular chioce. Pumpkin risotto is good too. My favorite is actually pumpkin ravioli with sage butter, I wonder if you can find a way to make that vegan.
Cobblers are homey and wonderful dessert with no animal product needed.
The IVU has some suggestions about this as well.
Re the cobbler:
You might want to explore how to use coconut oil as a solid-at-room-tempeture fat for creating a satisfactory cobbler crust. (Normally, I try to replace solid fats with solid fats rather than with liquid oil. Coconut oil can be invaluable for this reason. And it's a lot better for you than chemical subsitutes for butter.)
If I were vegan, I would eat butternut squash mash. I always sautee yellow onions with tons of fresh rosemary, then scoop roasted rosemary out of the skin and mash everything together with salt and pepper. I usually add gruyere, but even without the cheese it smells incredible.
It would be good piled into a vegan pie crust as well and baked until golden on top and brown around the edges.
A general guide from this ominivore who has hosted vegans for Thanksgiving:
1. Don't try to replace the turkey with something that is turkey-like. Usually, they are awful or at best merely not-bad.
2. Even for this omnivore, Thanksgiving is really about the vegetables and starches. My Thanksgiving table is always a celebration of cornucopia of New World gifts to the whole world: Corn, beans, peppers, squashes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes - and chocolate and vanilla -- not to mention Jerusalem artichokes, avocadoes, peanuts, cashews, pecans, sunflower seeds, manioc/cassava (not my cup of tea) et cetera.
The vegan aspect will be limiting to a certain degree, but here are ideas that you can think about.
1. Instead of animal-based broth, you can make vegetable broths to intensify flavor and richness. Roasting can also bring out those flavors. Caution: some recipes for vegetable broth can be too heavy on carrots.
2. Soups: there is a huge array of soups that can be prepared. You could serve in a pumpkin shell (gets me thinking of peanut soup).
3. Salads: I like cold and and crunchy slaws to go with warm and gooey starches.
4. Mains: think of making a risotto with dried porcini mushrooms and a good homemade vegetable broth. Grains and beans come to the fore here. Or vegetable terrines and similar formal presentations.
5. Sides: the sky's the limit, but succotash is wonderful (I get the last fresh corn of the season to milk the cobs; add baby lima beans -- dried are the most silken and delicious -- and peppers and the corn cob milk). Gobs of things you can make with potatoes and sweet potatoes.
6. Desserts: Lots of fresh fruit (apples, pears, clementines) are available: poach or roast. Add caramelized nuts. I'd forget most pastry as unnecessary.
I'm not vegan, but have cooked many vegetarian dishes for thanksgiving. They usually involve some sort of pastry as well as cheese - i.e. Mushroom and Leek Phyllo with Gruyere... could give you lots of ideas there.
But minus the butter and cheese, its harder. Never touched Tofurkey before, seems scary. I did have a chickpea/eggplant tart that might be vegan if the phyllo is made w/o butter. Happy to post if you like. In a similar vein, have a recipe for fennel-scented spinach/potato samosas.
However, I do regularly make a vegan gravy, which everyone loves and I really recommend. Here is a summary - the original recipe was from The Kripalu Cookbook but I have made some additions:
Autumn Gravy (this only makes enough for ~4-6 servings)
1/4 cup canola oil
4 onions, diced
1 3/4 cup water
few sprinkles garlic salt
1/2 t salt (to taste)
fresh ground pepper
2 T dried sage
2 T tamari
3 T nutritional yeast
In a large, heavy skillet, heat oil and saute onions. Do this slowly until they get extremely caramelized. I think it usually takes 45 min or so - just make sure they are nice and dark (but not burnt), because this is where the flavor comes from. Add garlic salt, salt, pepper, and sage. Stir for a minute then slowly add water, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly. Add tamari and nutritional yeast and simmer for 5 more minutes. Blend thoroughly in a blender. Reheat if necessary.