Thanksgiving is a traditional holiday celebrated by gathering around a table with your family and stuffing your faces until you eat yourself into a food coma. Since there will be plenty of Thanksgivings throughout our lives, why not try something different this year. If you want to avoid the sickening feeling of not being able to move, consider trying a vegan Thanksgiving. It’s healthy and you can leave the table feeling satisfied, without any regrets.
Being vegan means swearing off any type of animal product, which includes all kinds of meat, eggs, butter, milk, cheese, honey etc. There are some key ingredients that vegans use as substitutes for these common ingredients. There are vegan milks, cheeses, butters, chocolates, sour cream and mayo that may be a bit more difficult to retrieve than typical brands, but are far from impossible to find. All natural and organic sweeteners can replace your sugar and honey.
Try and get some family members on board with you so that you aren’t preparing a whole meal on your own. It may be difficult to get people to move away from their tradition, so don’t be discouraged if there isn’t much participation. Keep in mind, though, that with more people, there are less vegan foods that need to be cooked on your own.
Even though it’s a vegan meal, you can still keep the Thanksgiving theme, and, luckily, most of your favorite dishes can be made with a vegan recipe. Unfortunately, turkey and any other meat are out of the question. That being said, there are vegan alternatives, such as a turkey made from tofu or soy and wheat protein. Both of these options provide the healthy nutrients of a turkey without all of the unhealthy fats and oils. Another main dish to consider is a meatless meat loaf, made of a variety of vegetables, spices, sauces and breadcrumbs. You can also look up a recipe for a vegan stuffing, made mostly of vegetables, spices, and bread.
Another main course to take into account is a salad. A salad is an easy dish to throw together just be sure not to incorporate any cheese or chicken. Some ingredients to consider using in your salad include any kind of vegetable, fruit, beans or nuts. Pick an oil and vinegar or vinaigrette dressing to accompany the salad, no ranch or honey mustard. There may even already be a family member making a salad, in which case, you can you just ask them to leave out anything that makes it non-vegan on the side.
Many dishes can be made non-vegan if you leave out or substitute one or two ingredients. Mashed potatoes can be vegan if you substitute milk for almond or soy milk. They can be seasoned with salt and pepper, and a vegan butter can be added for taste. Sweet potatoes are prepared the same way. Other side vegan side dishes can include any other vegetable like brussels sprouts, corn, broccoli or carrots. Apple and cranberry sauce are also vegan friendly sides.
The most difficult part of being vegan is probably going to be when it comes time for dessert. Most things will probably be off limits, but you can always supply your own. You can make apple and pumpkin pies vegan with your key substitutes. Brownies and cookies can also be made vegan if you make them from scratch. It’s also relatively easy to purchase a vegan ice cream from your local health food store. If nothing else, fruits are always good dessert choices, both healthy and delicious.
Feel free to pick and choose which meals you want to make, but only go vegan if you feel comfortable doing so. Don’t feel forced or pressured to do it. Veganism is obviously a healthier alternative to your average Thanksgiving, but everyone deserves a day to eat what you want, especially because it’s a change from our typical Happy Valley diet of dining hall food, Wings Over and Pokey Sticks. If a vegan Thanksgiving is something that you really want to try personally, Valley encourages you to try a new experience on this holiday. Look up some of your personal favorite Thanksgiving dishes and substitute the proper ingredients. Maybe even after this one meal, you’ll see how being a vegan can be enjoyable. Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the break!