10 Tips for an Awesome Vegan Thanksgiving

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on November 17, 2012.

The key to successful vegan cooking is to avoid attempting to replicate meat and dairy dishes with fake, meat-free products.

If you’re craving turkey, meatballs or macaroni and cheese, why eat the processed vegan version? After all, the goal is to bring out the rich, satisfying flavors and textures of the plant-based 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 cruelty-free Thanksgiving celebration.

1. Know Your Guests — and Their Dietary Restrictions

Make sure to get a count of your expected guests, as this is essential for menu planning. Ask them to let you know about any special dietary needs, and give your guests a rough timeline of the day.

2. Keep It Simple for Kids

Ask parents if their children 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!

Children tend to be conservative in their food preferences, 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.

3. Substitute Meat and Dairy Products With Planted-Based Ingredients.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Instead of butter, try Earth Balance’s Vegan Buttery Spread.
  • Cook up some vegan gravy.
  • Swap out chicken broth for vegetable broth.
  • Make cashew cheese instead of the dairy version.
  • Opt for maple syrup, agave syrup or raw vegan sugar over white sugar, which is processed with bone char.

4. 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.

5. Provide Ingredient 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 each dish to explain its contents?

6. Make It an Environmentally Friendly Meal

Don’t use disposable plates or napkins. Purchase organic ingredients and 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.

7. Give helpful guests a heads-up

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 percent plant-based table. Or maybe suggest how they could use some vegan substitutes?

8. Celebrate the Homemade

Here’s a list of Thanksgiving favorites that really should be made from scratch: stuffing, cranberry sauce, pie, mashed potatoes, yams and gravy. And here are recipes for 10 more vegan side dishes.

9. No More Tofurky. Please!

There are so many exciting options to replace the Tofurky as your main event. Here are just three delicious suggestions:

Start with these three, and you can find plenty more ideas here.

10. Prepare Tasty Beverages

For some unusual flavors, why not try Pumpkin Spice Latte, Fresh Pomegranate Juice or Spicy Carrot Mimosa?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Related Care2 Coverage
12 Famous Vegans And Why They Made The Switch
Vegan Hip-Hop Artist Proves It’s Macho To Love Animals
To Be a Feminist is To Be a Vegan

Photo Credit: Getty Images


Yvonne T
Yvonne T25 days ago

thanks for sharing

Kevin B
Kevin Babout a month ago

Thanks for posting

Jessica C
Jessica C2 months ago


Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill2 months ago


D E Martin
D E Martin2 months ago


Mia B
Mia B2 months ago


Latoya Brookins
Latoya Brookins3 months ago

If I was in charge of Thanksgiving it would definitely be vegan.

danii p
danii p3 months ago

Thank you

danii p
danii p3 months ago

Thank you

danii p
danii p3 months ago

Thank you