It’s hard to separate Thanksgiving from food — we instantly associate dishes like roasted turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, and homemade gravy with the holiday. This year, however, I’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving in a different way; I’ve stopped eating meat, so many of the staple options for the holiday are not up for consideration for our meal.
I won’t be eating the same things I’ve eaten at Thanksgiving for years, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t have a delicious meal — or that I can’t enjoy many of the foods that bring the holiday to mind. Here’s a menu of vegetarian and vegan Thanksgiving options that can make a meal all by themselves — these would be welcome at any table, whether the centrepiece is turkey or Tofurkey.
What says autumn in Canada like the taste of maple syrup? You’ll find it in this maple-carrot soup, which is easily made vegetarian by switching out the chicken broth in the recipe for a vegetable broth. You can make the meal vegan or dairy-free as well, by using a soy-based sour cream — look for Tofutti in stores, or get adventerous and make your own.
If you prefer a broth-based soup, I’ve got this recipe on my to-make list — it’s vegan and full of protein from quinoa and beans.
Main #1: Roasted vegetables
Roasting up some fall veggies is a great way to add something warm and heart to your meal. This recipe makes a lot — the leftovers would be great in soup or pasta — and there’s very little prep time.
If you’re willing to get away from a roast, you could try a curry or chili dish as the main item for your Thanksgiving menu. Harvest vegetable curry uses in-season veggies like cauliflower and is simple to prepare; if you go with vegetable broth, it’s vegan. And this squash chili will warm your belly on a crisp fall day; if you like, either sub out the sour cream for a non-dairy version or simply leave it out.
If you’d like to have a salad with your dinner, try this one with roasted vegetables and chickpeas, which add some extra protein to the meal.
Main #2: Stuffing
I’ll be honest: I’ve never been a big fan of stuffing. But for many people, it’s just not Thanksgiving without it. This recipe appeals to me much more than soggy stuffing out of a box, with crisp pieces of bread and beta carotene-rich sweet potatoes. Make it veggie by switching out chicken broth for vegetable, and to make this vegan or dairy-free, replace the butter — Earth Balance spreads have a wonderful flavour that I also love on popcorn, and Incredible Edible Spread ‘Em is full of delicious garlic.
Adding some dark greens like rapini to your meal is a great way to include some iron and folate. I don’t love steamed greens, but roasting gives them just the right texture. Again, these will be just as delicious with a dairy-free spread instead of butter, if you prefer.
If you don’t enjoy leafy greens, give another green vegetable a try. Green beans are seasonal and they taste great cooked up with garlic, for example. You can make your own garlic butter by mixing minced garlic into a non-dairy spread, or try using a garlic-infused olive oil instead.
Side: Mashed potatoes
This recipe is already vegetarian, but people who avoid dairy can also enjoy it with a few substitutions: soy or almond milk instead of cow’s milk, a non-dairy spread like Earth Balance instead of butter, and dairy-free cream cheese and sour cream. Just as creamy as the original!
If you’re like me, you can’t fathom the thought of mashed potatoes without gravy — try making your own with veggie broth or vegetarian chicken bouillon, or look for a mix for mushroom gravy in the grocery store.
Dessert: Fruits and ice cream
What’s a family feast without homemade dessert to finish it off? This apple-cranberry crisp is nearly vegan as it is — just swap out the butter for your favourite spread. And rhubarb and berry compote is a dish that everyone at your table, regardless of dietary preferences or allergies, is likely to be able to eat. Both of these desserts would be great with ice cream — try Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss. It’s so creamy that nobody will believe it’s not made with dairy (the secret is coconut milk!) and the ingredients are all natural and organic.