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Thanksgiving Dinner for 8 - Vegans, Vegetarians and Carnivores Included

Any menu suggestions. I would like to make this as simple as possible and use dishes that all can eat when I can. Traditional Southern cook hosting - husband is a meat-eater but not very adventurous when it comes to vegetables. I can do things like mashed potatoes using vegan substitutes for milk and butter. Any ideas appreciated!

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  1. There was a discussion about this earlier. There seem to be two schools of thought. One is to use dairy-like substitutions for butter, cream etc. so you come as close to the dairy as possible. The second, and I personal favorite, is to go in a non-dairy direction but use the same main ingredients--going Italian means subbing olive oil for lots of the "dairy." That would mean potatoes whipped with olive oil and garlic, other vegetables roasted in olive oil. If people are not very interested in vegetables, there may be no reason to make ones the "meat eater" will love since I assume he'll be focused on the turkey. You can also do a roasted mushrooms with lots of fresh herbs as a hearty side dish for vegans and vegetarians.

    1. Vegans like to suffer and feel superior about their martyrdom, so just make your regular recipes and let them enjoy not eating it. Don't kill me, I'm joking.

      Escondido is right, much can be done with olive oil that will taste better than margarine. Also nut oils add good flavor, like if you have steamed green beans with hazelnut oil ( & maybe a little sherry vinegar) and toasted hazelnuts. Just pass bowls of butter, sour cream and bacon bits to go on top of anything appropriate. For dessert, baked apples with maple syrup and pecans as one option, and you should be able to find an ice cream substitute.

      2 Replies
      1. re: babette feasts

        «« Vegans like to suffer and feel superior about their martyrdom, so just make your regular recipes and let them enjoy not eating it. »»

        Hmm… I've actually done this on several occassions.

        1. This is common at my Thanksgiving table and solved by the help of Eve. Eve is the first vegan to join our feast and she and I work together to finish dishes. As the steamed beans come off the stove, we divide them. She puts some almost butter on one dish, I put butter on the other. Same with the squash and potatoes. Eve makes a tofu pumpkin pie the night before [and doesn't do a great job at the cleaning up after herself.] For years, I did both a traditional baked bean pot and a vegan one, but have given in and just do the vegan version.

          Additionally, I make a vegan soup [mushroom has been a favorite] for a starter and always make sure to have vegan roasted nuts on the "nibbles" table. With a cooperative kitchen helper, it has never felt too difficult to have vegans around the table.

          1. Field Roast Celebration Roast is vegan and very tasty, and a snap to prepare. Compose a vegan gravy and you have lovely foundations for a plush Thanksgiving feast. There are, of course, vegetable options galore.

            1. the NY Times ran a terrific "Vegetarian Thanksgiving" feature last year. perhaps some of the dishes/recipes will work for you:

              1 Reply
              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Wow, thanks for this link! Everything looks delicious!

              2. I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year for 14 people, 13 of them are omnivores, I am the only vegetarian. (My grandmother is cooking the turkey at her house a mile away). As the only vegetarian in my extended family, I've come up with several vegetarian dishes that everyone enjoys. :)

                First, Martha Stewart's Roasted Fall Vegetables. (Vegan) I've made this every year for the past 3 or 4 years, for my family as well as my in-laws, and everyone has loved it. If you have leftovers (which you probably won't), Martha gives directions on making them into soup. They are one of my younger brother's favorite Thanksgiving dishes, and he's a 20 year old meat-eating college kid.


                Next, a beet and quinoa salad:

                Kristen's Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets (Vegan


                2 cups dry quinoa, cooked (used 4 cups of water) and then chilled
                1-2 large (or 3-4 small) roasted beets, cooled and cut into 1/2" cubes*
                1 small red onion, thinly sliced
                1/2 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced (or shaved)
                2 small cucumbers, sliced into half moons
                1 cup of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
                Optional: You could serve this with greens, such as arugula, baby spinach, etc.

                Mix together all the ingredients and top with dressing. The beets will color everything else pink, so if you'd like to avoid that you could serve them in a separate dish or put them on top of the salad just before serving.

                Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing:
                1/2 cup of red wine vinegar
                1 or 2 teaspoons of prepared mustard
                1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
                1/2 teaspoon of salt
                1/4 teaspoon of pepper
                1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

                Whisk together all ingredients except olive oil, and then very slowly whisk in olive oil. You can add fresh herbs (such as basil, tarragon, or oregano) at the end if you like.

                *To roast the beets: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash beets. If they are large, quarter them. Toss beets with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Wrap individually in aluminum foil, and place on a jelly roll pan or roasting pan in a single layer. Roast at 400 for approximately 1 hour, or until they are fork-tender.

                This recipe is my own creation. I served it at a vegan potluck and it was extremely popular, and was very popular with my meat-eating husband with the addition of goat cheese. You could serve this salad with the cheese in a separate dish, so vegetarians and carnivores could add it if they wish.

                Hope that helps!

                1. This will be the first holiday in a while that my vegan nephew is not joining us. We are rejoicing at being able to have dairy. Anyway, I do have a ton of suggestions.

                  Apps - lots of good veggie choices here, hummus & salsa are good vegan dip choices.

                  Salad - we like a pear/blue cheese/pecan salad with raspberry vinaigrette, we just leave out the blue cheese for the vegan.

                  Entrees - we serve turkey and our vegan looks longingly at it, but we have lots of other choices as well. You mentioned mashed potatoes with milk/butter sub. I also do an acorn squash/apple casserole that has nuts in it and it serves as the vegan "entree". If interested, I can share the recipe. We do use canned vegetale stock for the stuffing, which is bread and veggies, no seafood, meat or cheese. We also make roasted brussels sprouts with EVOO, lemon juice and some coarse salt.

                  Dessert is usually roasted pears or apples (for the vegan) as well as apple and sweet potatoe pie.

                  It was never a prirotiy that our vegan be able to eat ALL courses, just that he have plenty to choose from andof sufficient quanity.

                  1. When there are vegans and vegetarians around I like to make a nice stuffed squash, anywhere from acorn halves to hubbard depending on the numbers, including wild rice or another grain, nuts, raisins or other dried fruit. It is always a heat with everyone, vegan through carnivore. and it is beautiful and festive.

                    1. I am no Southerner, so maybe you'd be horrified, but I think a cornbread stuffing can be done pretty well vegan style, and you could probably just make one batch to use with a turkey (assuming you're having one) and bake the rest on the side. I use a mix of a recipe I found online and one from Alice Waters's "Chez Panisse Vegetables", but with some modifications to make it vegan. Basically, stale cornbread, onion / celery / parsley, some corn kernels, pecans, apples, and kale or collards. Some bourbon if you like. And add some extra veg stock / soy milk and oil to the stuffing that's cooked by itself, so it'll get the right texture. I usually use a little liquid smoke in the greens to give a little bit of a smokey flavor.

                      Brussels sprouts, roasted root vegetables, roasted cauliflower, mushroom gravy... some other vegetarian sides that I personally enjoy for Thanksgiving. I can try and describe my mushroom gravy method if you want; there are also lots of versions online.

                      I would try a cashew cream (homemade or store-bought) instead of soy milk, to give a bit more richness to the mashed potatoes. Margarine isn't classy, but I think a little Earth Balance margarine (as well as some olive oil) will improve the taste and texture of mashed potatoes. I will certainly agree that margarine isn't "real food" and is inferior to butter, but Earth Balance isn't bad as these things go. Just make sure you use a vegan margarine - a lot of brands of margarine contain whey or other milk products.

                      Agree that getting a Field Roast or Tofurky type thing, while not that exciting, will provide an extra vegan dish without a lot of work on your side. Never done it myself... I think most people are happy with just lots of sides.

                      To put it slightly differently from the comments above, I think the vegan(s) will come knowing full well that they won't be able to eat everything, and will really appreciate that you're making an effort to accommodate them. So don't worry about making it so they can eat everything, and don't feel bad about asking them to bring something along if it's practical. Also a good idea to check with the vegan(s) ahead of time to see how strict they are (if they eat honey, for example).

                      Desserts are a tricky area for vegans - I don't think a vegan will come expecting a delicious dessert, but know that you will probably make their year if you provide one, especially if you really pull it off. Pies are not too hard to do with only shortening for the crust (in fact, some store-bought pies are vegan by default). It is possible to make great vegan sweet potato or pumpkin pie -- however, that kind of filling does work a bit better with the egg (I know from personal experience, having done it both ways). Probably if you just get a small container of vegan ice cream, that would be more than enough.

                      Hope this helps a bit. We've got a wide range of eaters in my family, but somehow we manage to make food with enough overlap for Thanksgiving and Christmas that everyone leaves happy.