10 Tips For An Awesome Vegan Thanksgiving

The key to successful vegan cooking is not to try to replicate meat and cheese dishes with fake no-meat products.

Really, if you are craving turkey, or meatballs, or macaroni and cheese, why eat the Quorn or Boca version, or the homemade fake equivalent?

No, the goal of vegan cooking is to prepare dishes that don’t use meat and cheese products, but instead bring out the rich and satisfying flavors and textures of the ingredients that you are using.

So bring on a vegan Thanksgiving, where you can do just that! Here are 10 tips to ensure that you have an awesome Thanksgiving celebration:

* Know Your Guests. Make sure to get a count of your expected guests. This is essential for menu planning, and ask them to let you know about any special dietary needs. Also, let your guests know ahead of time the overall timing of the day.

* Be Prepared For Kid Guests. Ask parents if their kids have any specific hates or loves, or food allergies. Don’t dwell on the word “vegan.” Kids aren’t interested in long discussions about their food — they just want to eat! If they love pumpkin pie, using the word “vegan” is irrelevant — it’s just pumpkin pie!

* Keep It Simple For Kids. Children are mostly very conservative in what they like and don’t like, and your amazing Thanksgiving dinner won’t change that. Most kids will eat something that looks familiar. If they see a slice of pizza, they will eat it, even if they don’t know that the pizza has a gluten-free crust and is topped with soy cheese. So make sure that you have some food options that look simple, traditional and kid-friendly.

* Substitute Vegan For Non-Vegan Ingredients. Some suggestions:
Butter – Vegan Buttery Spread, Earth Balance brand
Gravy – Vegan Gravy
Chicken Broth – Vegetable Broth
Cheese – Vegan Cheese
White Sugar – Maple Syrup, Agave Syrup, Raw Vegan Sugar

*Make A Schedule. Don’t leave all your kitchen work until the day of Thanksgiving. Make cranberry sauce, pies, appetizers, cold veggie dishes and salads ahead of time and store them in the fridge. Thanksgiving is about spending time with family and friends, not about feeling so frazzled that you have no time to sit and enjoy your company.

*Dish Labels. If your guests aren’t familiar with vegan food, they may not recognize what they are eating. Why not place some labels in front of your dishes, and those that your friends bring, to explain what is in them? And of course the discussion of these dishes can provide some excellent dinnertime conversation.

*Make It An Environmentally Friendly Meal. Don’t use disposable plates or napkins.  Purchase organic ingredients and organic wines. Your local farmers market is the best place to get fresh, organic produce, so that you know you are not feeding your guests pesticides, chemicals and other additives.

*Bring-a-Dish. I’ve found that guests usually offer to bring a dish, so you’ll need to let them know that you are planning a vegan Thanksgiving meal. They may offer to bring their favorite non-vegan dish, and then it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want a 100% vegan table. Or maybe suggest how they could use some vegan substitutions?

*Celebrate The Homemade. Here’s a list of Thanksgiving favorites that really should be made from scratch: stuffing, cranberry sauce, pie (no substitute for the real thing!), mashed potatoes, yams and gravy.

* No More Tofurky. Please! There are so many exciting options to replace the tofurky as your main event. Here are just three delicious suggestions: Roasted Apple, Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Pizza; Coconut Mashed Yams With Currants; and Southern Skillet Black-Eyed Peas and Cauliflower With Quick Biscuits. Start with these three, and you can find plenty more here.

* Prepare Tasty Beverages. For some unusual flavors, why not try Pumpkin Spice Latte, Fresh Pomegranate Juice, or Spicy Carrot Mimosa?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Photo credit: thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Hendrica Ranger
Hendrica Ranger4 years ago

i did this for ten years, now i am going back to it

Misha L.
Irene L5 years ago

Thanks for the tips.

Jodi Verse
Jodi Verse5 years ago

I am ever so slightly confused. At first you say not to have "fake" macaroni and cheese, and then a bit further into your shpiel you suggest vegan "cheese". My beef is with the inconsistency of what you're saying here."

Also, while I too advocate for as few "meat" and "cheese" substitutes as possible -- all that processed stuff is still way too processed -- I still think that anything that gets people away from eating animal products, especially when they're first considering switching over, is fine.

rene davis
irene davis5 years ago

go the vegans

Daniela A.
Daniela Alves5 years ago


John S.
Past Member 5 years ago


Sheri P.
Sheri P5 years ago

lovely tips...i agree, it's generally best not to try to replace dishes with vegan counterparts. but i happen to love torfurky stuff!

Mike H.
Mike H5 years ago

"Really, if you are craving turkey, or meatballs, or macaroni and cheese, why eat the Quorn or Boca version, or the homemade fake equivalent?"

If you are calling yourself a 'vegan' then you can't be eating Quorn. Because it's based on egg and milk protein. The reason I am bringing this to your attention is because as a vegan since 1977 myself, I wouldn't want new vegans or mums and dads of vegans, with the best of intentions buying it believing it to be suitable!

Such is Life