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Help!!!! What to feed a vegan at Thanksgiving [moved from the regional boards]

Any one have some ideas on what to feed a vagan for Thanksgiving dinner? Got lots of veggies and such, but what can I substitute for the turkey?

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  1. You might want to pop this into the home cooking board instead of New Jersey. I'm a vegan and do not look for a substitute for turkey but enjoy all kinds of amazing food on Thanksgiving, including rich gravy, pecan pie, stuffing loaded into acorn squash, risotto, roasted veggies, soup, warm pumpkin "cheesecake" and more. It's fun. But do not feel you need to substitute for turkey at all. We have tried a home made tofurkey and have gotten one from Whole Foods, but it is not necessary. If you have a Whole Foods nearby, they will be offering tofurkey if that is what you are looking for.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mvi

      mvi is spot on. Actually with its emphasis on the side dishes, Thanksgiving is pretty easy for a vegan. What tends to be missing is the umami element. A nice roasted portobello mushroom, a mushroom ragu or vegan stuffed mushrooms might fill the gap.

      1. re: bropaul

        I've found many vegetarians (myself, husband, mother, sister, uncle, two cousins) don't care for mushrooms because they're too "meaty", especially portobellos. Just saying.

      2. re: mvi

        the NYT's had an article about vegetarian thanksgiving dishes just last week. Here is the link

        not all of them are vegan, but some are, and you may be able to easily make some of the non-vegan ones meet your needs.

        1. re: mvi

          This post really belongs on the Home Cooking Board. That said, take a look at this thread started by Diane in Bexley, which should give your lots of ideas http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7441...

        2. if you want to make it easy on yourself and offer something the vegan diner will enjoy without having add to your workload, pick up a Celebration Field Roast. back in my vegetarian days when i could still eat gluten, the Field Roast products were my favorite.


          2 Replies
          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I agree with this advice. I would go to Whole Foods and buy a big Thanksgiving Tofurkey or Celebration Field Roast.

            Some other advice: Plan dishes ahead so you can make them part normal/part vegan. For example, when making mashed potatoes, remove some of the potatoes before adding butter and cream. You can mash those potatoes with something like olive oil or soy butter.

            Finally, don't go to too much trouble. I used to be vegan. I hated when I felt like I was imposing on people, and I especially didn't like being the focus of attention (or thinly disguised ridicule). I would be annoyed if you melted butter all over steamed vegetables without having the courtesy to pull some aside for me, but I wouldn't expect you to make a vegan pecan pie (which can be perfectly delicious, BTW).

            1. re: sushigirlie

              we got a tofurkey one year for my then vegan daughter, who liked good veg chinese food (including those faux meats), and she and all of us absolutely hated it. There are plenty of wonderful veg dishes without going down the faux turkey road and wasting that $ on a single person's meal that may or may not be enjoyed.
              there are lots of good vegan dishes that include full flavors and hearty ingredients such as nuts and grains to increase the satisfaction level, as well as traditional dishes like candied sweet potatoes with apples and cinnamon that a vegan can enjoy.

          2. Last year for a post Thanksgiving meal where a vegan was one of my guests, I made this vegetarian shepherd's pie http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... -- to make it vegan, I used earth balance instead of the butter, and soy cream cheese instead of the cream. I didn't use the seitan, but might try that next time. Everyone at the table loved it, even the skeptics. Your vegan has to be a mushroom fan (though my non mushroom fan sister still liked it).

            1. One thanksgiving, my daughter brought a friend home for T-Day, and it turned out that she was vegan. May I say I have never had an easier guest?

              She bought a vegan replacement for butter, and I planned some of the sides using olive oil instead of butter myself. So, we had a plan! I made the roasted nuts in butter, and some roasted nuts with olive oil. I roasted the squash with olive oil, and I made a vegan pot of Boston Baked Beans which also satisfied the vegetarian, who is really a pescatarian but won't admit it.

              Then the day of, the friend stood in the kitchen and put the green beans and potatoes in a serving bowl as they came off the stove and mixed in her butter-substitute. Obviously she didn't eat the turkey or the creamed onions.

              The day before she made a tofu pumpkin pie that was surprisingly good! She also had some of the apple crisp made without any animal products.

              That year I served a mushroom soup so that she had a little more than just sides to eat. It was a lovely holiday, and she still calls us every year to tell us that our dinner was the best one she has ever had. I don't really believe her, but it is very sweet.

              I think a turkey substitute isn't really required, if there are lots of other flavors and textures on the table that will satisfy.

              2 Replies
              1. re: smtucker

                See, now that's a good guest.

                If I invited someone and they told me, "I'm a vegan...cook for me" I would really have to suggest that they bring something along for themselves. The Thanksgiving meal is stressful enough to prepare without having to worry if you're going to contaminate someone with meat products.

                1. re: smtucker

                  your daughter's friend sounds like me. when i was a vegetarian and i was invited to someone's home for any occasion, i always offered to make vegetarian dishes. and now that i can't eat gluten or soy, i *still* offer, to bring alternatives that i can eat, and i always end up bringing at least a GF dessert.

                  of course when i'm hosting, i always make sure there's a variety that's safe/acceptable for every guest to enjoy, but that's because i personally enjoy doing it that way - i'm under no illusion that most hosts actually *want* to prepare extra dishes or alter their menu to accommodate one or two guests :)

                2. Take an roasted acorn squash half, and fill it with a lentil, carmelized onion and apple blend. You needn't think "meat," think substantial protein. That being said, tempeh is a nice nutty protein that is very easy to season as desired and sear off.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jsaimd

                    Or do the same thing with a nice blue hubbard of a size to feed all, Gorgeous and festive and has the panache of a turkey in a way.

                  2. These are all great ideas. As a frequent guest who is a vegan, I always bring at least one thing and always communicate with my hosts. (I follow a vegan diet for health reasons.)

                    My parents still ask me if I eat eggs, if I can have some chicken broth, and if I can eat the local cheese. Sadly, when I visit them for large occasions like Thanksgiving, they rarely have anything I can eat. (It's been four years since I started following a vegan diet.) I always plan on making some things if there is time. If not, I bring a few things with me. Inevitably, the whole group loves the dishes I have made and they are more popular than anything else during leftover time, even with avid meat eaters. Be prepared, though; I have had to do lots of last minute shopping over the years when I find that my parents have absolutely nothing I can eat. Nothing.

                    If you are entertaining a vegan, just use olive oil, Earth Balance, vegetable broth, and almond milk or soy milk for some of the things and you will be fine. My mashed potatoes are so rich, you'd never know there was no butter or cream. Roasted sweet potatoes are a hit with everyone. I make caramelized onions and Brussels Sprouts. My delicious, moist stuffing and a very rich gravy go into an acorn squash, and I am making two delicious pies. (There are a massive number of recipes on line if you do not want to buy a book.) I am lucky because I am not the only family member who is a vegan, so when we have family events, we both have fun with the planning.

                    If you are a vegan, it is a good idea to come to a big gathering with a few dishes and even some essentials like almond milk for your coffee. It's fun and people will see how creative you can be. And how delicious the food is, too.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: mvi

                      Would you be willing to share your stuffing and gravy recipes?

                      1. re: texaspeppers

                        Sorry not to have replied sooner, texaspeppers. I am involved with a crazy move! I will look for the gravy recipe, and I think I know where it is. (Always tenuous though during a move.)

                        As for the stuffing, I always make it up by adding all of my favorite ingredients and herbs. I saute onions and celery on a medium heat until they are soft and the onion is nice and sweet. I add some rosemary and celery salt, and toss in anything else I have lying around. (I like to experiment with some of the spice blends I find.) Then I add some chopped apple, some maple syrup, some sherry, and some of my favorite vegan sausage. (Field Roast Apple Sage. I use this in my pea soup, too. I have seen recipes to make your own, but have not tried it. This is one of the few meat substitutes that is actually good.) I toss all of this with flavored bread crumbs or stuffing mix and add some vegetable broth along with a stick of melted Earth Balance, maybe even some home made apple sauce, which is a good substitute for eggs. I like my stuffing rich and moist, so if it is at all dry looking, I add anything to soften it up, including more sherry, some apple cider, or more Earth Balance. I have added a little bit of grated orange zest and some cranberries in the past, too. I bake it for a bit, either in an acorn squash or in a covered dish, and it's ready to be smothered with gravy and devoured. That's really it. Sorry to not be more specific but I have not written it down. Maybe this year I will.

                        And I will look for the gravy recipe.

                        Getting hungry now!

                        1. re: texaspeppers

                          Here's the gravy recipe. I use olive oil and Earth Balance, not vegetable oil, and whatever spices I may have on hand if I do not have sage. There are many different vegetable broths and some are quite salty so check the taste before adding salt.


                          1. re: mvi

                            Thanks so much mvi. Especially during a move! Good luck with the boxes, but sounds like you are already super organized if the computer works and you found the recipes!

                            1. re: texaspeppers

                              Thanks! All of my vegan dishes were devoured and my vegan daughter was so thrilled. Well worth two solid days of cooking to see the smiles on her face, especially.

                      2. What about a Cajun stuffed eggplant? Chopped 'plant,(hollow out the middle of a decent sized-eggplant) sauteed with diced celery, onions and bellpeppers, cubed tomatoes, corn kernels, rice and beans, with a good shake of Zatarains or whatever you prefer; baked; topped w/ soycheese if he/she eats it.

                        1. There are lots of good ideas here... but do you know your guest well enough to ask your question?


                          1. Just a follow up on the vegan gravy. I made a new one today. It is very similar to the one I originally posted, but I may like it even better. I did not add mushrooms, which was just a suggestion, but did add a teaspoon of sherry. And I used Earth Balance instead of vegetable oil to saute the garlic and onion. Very rich, creamy and tasty.