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Moving Beyond ‘Traditional’ Holiday Fare

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Moving Beyond ‘Traditional’ Holiday Fare

As easy as it is to be vegan in these times of abundant food choices, there are certain situations in which social expectations present us with specific challenges. Thanksgiving is probably one of the most difficult times of year for many vegans in the US, as the pressure of returning home for the holidays can lead to feelings of anxiety around the issue of dining with non-vegan loved ones.

Of course, if families are able to work together, and non-vegans are willing to open their minds to the possibility that vegan food can be perfect for a holiday celebration, there’s no reason that anyone should have to feel uncomfortable, as this article explains.

Last year at this time, I published a recipe post with a menu of ‘replacements’ for some of the traditional holiday dishes. From stuffing and gravy to pumpkin pie, many of the dishes that we associate with holiday meals can be easily veganized.

But there’s no reason that holiday meals have to resemble the old traditions that center around a practice many of us consider quite barbaric. This Thanksgiving, why not dress up your holiday table with some festive delights that have nothing to do with the traditional menu? As long as the foods are beautiful and delicious, who’s to say what a Thanksgiving table should contain?

In the following pages are a selection of recipes that are aesthetically beautiful, mouth-wateringly delicious, and will offer your guests and family an opportunity to enjoy a peaceful holiday menu that will delight the taste-buds of all.

Image: Suat Eman /

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Read more: All recipes, Appetizers & Snacks, Eating for Health, Food, Uncategorized

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Angel Flinn

Angel Flinn is Director of Outreach for Gentle World a non-profit educational organization whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making the transition.

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11:57AM PST on Dec 14, 2010

this is an issue that will become more and more common as more people become interested in becoming vegan or at least cutting back on animal based foods. at the same time traditions are very much a part of us...that's what traditions are about. i would like to find a happy medium there somewhere, using substitutes where possible...not pretend substitutes, but foods that can satisfy and we can enjoy in place of a large carcass of a dead bird in the middle of the table. if you are inviting vegans, let them know what you are planning. i would asked it that information weren't given to me. vegan side dishes that are traditional can be found, substituting a few ingredients.

4:49AM PST on Nov 26, 2010

They sound great, thanks.

9:30AM PST on Nov 25, 2010

thanks for post

11:13PM PST on Nov 21, 2010

Thank you for posting.

10:36PM PST on Nov 21, 2010

sharing healthy, plant-based versions of those recipes that have been handed down for generations IS a way to honor our ancestors, & i am thankful for the opportunity to do so during the holidays!

9:55PM PST on Nov 21, 2010

The stuffed tomatoes and asparagus recipes would be great at any meal. Thanks.

8:45PM PST on Nov 21, 2010

It's always best to add nutritional yeast at the end of cooking, wherever possible. In the recipes where it's cooked, it's really only being used as a seasoning.

6:04PM PST on Nov 21, 2010

Thank you for the recipes!

5:39PM PST on Nov 21, 2010

Toni Clark - The idea of "moving beyond the traditional" is to be respectful, empathetic, and compassionate towards other living beings that suffer and are killed for the dining pleasure of humans.

Lynn C. - I have the same question regarding nutritional yeast. I always add it after cooking, but I wonder if it's nutrients survive heat?

Kay L - If you have a natural foods store (health food store) in your area, you should be able to find the "exotic" ingredients there. I buy nutritional yeast in the bulk food section of my tiny local natural foods store. I picked up some tahini today on sale half price.

4:56PM PST on Nov 21, 2010

As usual, rather complicated recipes calling for exotic ingredients that are not easily found in small town groceries, things like stoneground mustard, arrowroot powder, nutritionial yeast, tahi and super expensive curly lettuce (bought just to be a garnish?!?). I think I'll stick to the traditional, easier, cheaper to prepare dishes and spend the time saved cleaning house before the company arrives. If I have vegans coming, their dishes will be prepared with plain, ordinary vegetable margarine and shortening using the old-fashioned simple recipes of my ancestors.

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