No-Sweat Vegan Holiday Meal Guide

One of the most awkward situations is being the vegan at the Thanksgiving table. Explaining to my Midwestern grandmother why I can’t eat her mashed potatoes is a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies, but thankfully, plant-based life is getting easier. 

With #vegan being one of the top Instagram hashtags, people understand veganism and its benefits now more than they did even a few years ago. Although that doesn’t mean that Aunt Martha is going to have vegan biscuits at the holiday table anytime soon, fear not. As a seasoned plant-based food aficionado, I can help you loyal Advocate readers navigate all of your vegan options so you don’t have to sit around while everyone else eats pie this year. 

Entree
There are so many options for vegan protein that you’ll never miss the turkey. Market of Choice and First Alternative Co-op will be carrying the Tofurkey Turkey Style Roast and Quorn Turkey Style Roast. In addition, Market of Choice’s deli makes a Field Roast Wild Rice, Cranberry & Fig En Croute, and First Alternative Co-op will have the new Tofurky Ham Roast with Extra Special Beer Glaze. 

Too much like meat for you? The Minimalist Baker’s 1-Hour Vegan Shepard’s Pie is hearty, savory, and loaded with veggies: minimalistbaker.com/1-hour-vegan-shepherds-pie/. I’ve been experimenting a lot with mushroom steaks recently, since fresh Portobellos have been looking fantastic this fall. Try these Portobello Steaks with Avocado Chimichurri: minimalistbaker.com/portobello-steaks-avocado-chimichurri/ 

Bring on the Sides
I probably wouldn’t notice if there was no Tofurky on the table, so long as there were enough sweet potatoes and green bean casserole to feed a small army. Fortunately, you can reap the joys of holiday sides without lifting a finger. First Alternative Co-op’s deli makes vegan mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing and green bean casserole, as well as a cranberry relish. Market of Choice’s deli also offers an entire vegan spread, including a Holiday Roasted Vegetable Farro, Green Beans with Hazelnuts and Shallots, Mushroom Gravy, and Cape Blanco Cranberry Orange Relish. 

One of my favorite cooking blogs, Oh She Glows, has lots of side dish ideas for both new and seasoned vegans as well as friends of vegans. I tried making this Saweet! Potato Casserole with a Crunchy Nut Crumble a few years ago and was so happy with how the semi-sweet crunchy topping tasted with the sweet potatoes: ohsheglows.com/2014/11/04/saweet-potato-casserole-with-a-crunchy-nut-crumble-vegan-gf/. 

Put down that can of cranberry sauce! Eating cranberry flavored corn syrup is no way to live your life. I have convinced even the most stuck-in-their-Thanksgiving-ways that the fresh stuff is the way to go – just cranberries, orange juice, and a little sweetener. This recipe from Thug Kitchen is very similar to the recipe I concocted years ago, except I have never included bourbon, but may start now: thugkitchen.com/homemade_cranberry_sauce.

Dessert: The Most Important Part
If it were socially acceptable, I would finish every meal off with a piece of pie, including breakfast. Which is why I love the holidays, because having a second piece is always encouraged. 

This pumpkin pie recipe from The Minimalist Baker is vegan and gluten free, using Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Flour for the crust, which means it couldn’t be easier: minimalistbaker.com/vegan-gluten-free-pumpkin-pie/. This recipe for maple pecan pie promises that they have perfected a vegan caramel custard that holds together and doesn’t ooze everywhere when sliced: isachandra.com/2011/08/maple-pecan-pie/. 

Let’s not stop at pie, holiday cookies need their spot to shine, and Vegan Richa has 40 different holiday cookie recipes, from thumbprints to classic shortbread cookies: veganricha.com/2015/12/40-vegan-christmas-cookies.html#Cookies.

Running to the store sound easier than getting flour on your ugly Christmas sweater? Special order a tofu pumpkin or apple cranberry pie from First Alternative Co-op. They also have Willamette Valley Pies from Salem in cherry, pecan, and apple. Market of Choice has Natural Decadence Pies, both large & small, in strawberry-rhubarb, berry, and apple. I can’t wait to try Daiya Cheesecakes, which they carry in lime, strawberry, pumpkin, New York style. Yum!

Whether you are a vegan yourself, a friend or relative of a vegan, or even just interested in dabbling in a plant-based lifestyle, you have loads of options. The items listed here are only some of what is available. I recommend searching around yourself to find ways to recreate your favorite holiday dishes vegan style. With a dash of coconut oil and a dollop of Earth Balance plant-based buttery spread, anything can be turned vegan. Hopefully you don’t have to hear too many vegan jokes around the holiday table. Bon appétit!

By Ashley Rammelsberg

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