Vegan Thanksgiving is Easy and Traditional

Vegan Thanksgiving is Easy and Traditional

By | 2013-11-14T15:49:21+00:00 November 14th, 2013|Tags: , , |15 Comments

Finding recipes for a fabulous vegan Thanksgiving feast is not exactly a challenge. My own Vegan Thanksgiving board on pinterest is quickly filling up with all kinds of delectable dishes that I will probably never make. The reason I won’t make them is that I tend to be very traditional regarding Thanksgiving dinner. I want it to be pretty much the way it was when I was growing up, but with a compassionate makeover.

I might be tempted to make one or two new things some years, but mostly it’s all about the stuffing and the mashed potatoes and gravy for me. And I don’t think I’m alone in this regard. Many people who are reluctant to give up the turkey at their Thanksgiving feast may be more attached to their traditions than anything else.

If you’re making Thanksgiving dinner for non-vegans, it’s important to view it as outreach by making the dinner festive and delicious, and depending on your guests, maybe as traditional as possible. It’s a good time to skip the alfalfa sprouts and green juice toasts.

This year I also want my dinner to be super easy. I’m finishing up the very last tasks for my new book in the next couple of weeks, and then leaving for an overseas trip two days after Thanksgiving. So I want a holiday that is relaxing. And I’m always amazed at how easy it is to pull together a good vegan Thanksgiving meal.  And at how few tweaks it takes to turn the dishes of my childhood into the compassionate cuisine that fits my life now. You really don’t need to know anything special about vegan cooking to veganize Thanksgiving.

So here is what is on the menu for this year with my vegan modifications.

For the main course: Either a Field Roast Hazelnut Cranberry Roast en Croute or a Tofurky Holiday Roast; I haven’t decided.  The Field Roast has a little bit more of that wow factor (I’m easily impressed by anything wrapped in a flaky crust), but the Tofurky does feel a little more traditional to me. I’m so grateful for these products that it’s quite possible I’ll make both, especially since they require no effort on my part at all.

Mashed potatoes. I’m making them in the crockpot with soymilk and vegan margarine.

Stuffing. From a commercial mix, prepared with olive oil and veggie broth and with added chopped onions, celery, apples and walnuts

Gravy (I’m making Isa’s recipe for mushroom gravy which I hear is really good.

Roasted fall veggies: Brussels sprouts, golden beets, turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, and onions tossed with extra-virgin olive oil and herbes de Provence and then roasted at 425 for about 45 minutes.

Coleslaw made with Vegenaise

Wild rice with mushrooms. My friend Kate is from Minnesota and this is one of her Thanksgiving traditions that I’ve really come to love

Cranberries (the directions on the Ocean Spray package are vegan—I use organic sugar—but there are also all kinds of nice vegan recipes with added fruits and brandy.

Green bean casserole. I’m on the fence about this one since we’ll already have plenty of mushrooms for dinner, but it’s so much fun to veganize this (just replace the mushroom soup with sauteed mushrooms and a sauce of soymilk and olive oil thickened with flour) and it will make my husband happy. So, if I have time, I’ll whip this up, too.

Maple cheesecake. Here is where we part from tradition just a little bit. My friend Phyllis is an inspired vegan baker and always serves up something interesting. I think this is a raw cheesecake recipe. We’re having sweet potato pie, too.

To drink: red wine, white wine, sparkling cider, coffee with non-dairy creamer.

That’s it! What’s on your menu this year?



  1. Sarah November 15, 2013 at 3:38 am - Reply

    This is the first year that I’ll be cooking something vegan. Two of my family members are vegan and I’m sort of in the “transitioning” phase of it all, so to speak.

    I’m still not sure what to make for the main entree (there are a couple gluten free people, so tofurkey is unfortunately out of the running!) But I was thinking of doing some sort of lentil loaf or a chickpea fritter. Until I saw your pinterest board and now I’m leaning towards the lentil mushroom walnut balls from Oh She Glows. Yum.

    Dessert will be pumpkin pie with pecan crust and coconut whip cream. I’m very excited. Have a lovely Thanksgiving and thank you for this post!

    • Ginny Messina November 15, 2013 at 6:48 am - Reply

      It’s so great that you’re exploring veganism, Sarah. If I were making my own entree instead of buying one, those Lentil Mushroom Walnut balls would have been my first choice. Have fun with your dinner!

  2. Jess November 15, 2013 at 5:48 am - Reply

    Yum! Sounds fantastic! I will be working this Thanksgiving and getting the Chicago Diner’s Thanksgiving meal (all vegan and delish, I’m sure!) to go!

    • Ginny Messina November 15, 2013 at 6:47 am - Reply

      I love the Chicago Diner. I can’t think of a better place to grab a Thanksgiving dinner!

  3. Bertrand Russell November 15, 2013 at 7:36 am - Reply

    Great stuff, Ginny! Have you tried Hampton Creek Foods’ “Just Mayo”?

    • Ginny Messina November 15, 2013 at 8:20 am - Reply

      No, I’m dying to try it! It’s not sold anywhere around here.

  4. Christina November 15, 2013 at 10:20 am - Reply

    I’m intrigued…mashed potatoes in the crockpot? Care to share your recipe/technique?

    I’m with you…a traditional Thanksgiving, but veganized of course! Skipping the “twigs and bark” theme helps to win over the meat-eaters, I have found. Actually, I think the family favorites taste way better now without the animal product grossness! We’re making a “minimalist” T-day meal because I am so over being stuck in the kitchen all day: Sausage/Chestnut stuffing, mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes port cranberry sauce and (under protest) the green bean casserole. Like you, I’m still vacillating between Field Roast and Tofurky…or both (and every Thanksgiving and Christmas I “buy” my turkeys from Farm Sanctuary). FF Vegan Kitchen’s double layer pumpkin pie/cheesecake is our longtime standby. Sometimes I make an apple pie, too, if my daughter requests her favorite (served with coconut bliss ice cream). Man, now I am hungry! 🙂

    • Ginny Messina November 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm - Reply

      Christina, this is one of the recipes I found that inspired me to try this:

      But, I think I’m going to cook the potatoes in water like usual and then add the soymilk and margarine before mashing. I love the idea that I can do them ahead and let them stay warm in the crockpot.

      • Christina December 17, 2013 at 10:22 am - Reply

        I tried this technique with non-dairy butter and milk and I loved it. SO easy! I followed her directions, except I omitted the salt (1 TABLESPOON of salt? Holy cow!) and I halved the butter (1 CUP of butter? Holy cow again!). I also threw in a bulb of garlic cloves, peeled. Next time, I will try your suggestion of cooking in just the water and mashing with the milk/butter and seasonings (warmed). I will probably halve the butter again, though.

        Thanks so much for the great tip!

    • Karen November 24, 2014 at 10:20 pm - Reply

      Christina, there are plenty of vegan green bean casseroles out there, trust me. This is the one that caught my eye.

  5. Trae P November 19, 2013 at 11:05 am - Reply

    This post is making me hungry, especially that vegan maple ‘cheese’cake: I pretty much love maple anything LOL !

    This year I’ll be eating Thanksgiving at my parents’ place, and it will be my first Thanksgiving as a vegan. I think my mom bought some sort of mock turkey product at Trader Joe’s for me. Even though mock meats seem to get criticized by some in the vegan community quite a bit these days, one positive thing I will say about them is that for non-veg*ans who wish to accommodate veg*ans at a meal, they really do make for an easy solution: one can usually just swap them in in place of meat, and a lot of the other stuff at the table often still ‘works’. The traditional cranberry-orange-walnut relish my mom and I usually make, for example, is unintentionally vegan and should work just as well for the mock turkey I’ll be eating as it will for the regular turkey everyone else will be having.

    I’m planning on bringing a vegan green bean and leek casserole (recipe from ‘Betty Goes Vegan’), the base of which uses ‘no chicken’ broth, nutritional yeast, garlic, olive oil, Bragg’s liquid aminos, liquid smoke, Earth Balance and whole wheat flour…should be a fun experiment in the kitchen, if anything, but I’m probably going to test the recipe once this week, just to make sure it comes out okay, so I don’t have any unwanted ‘surprises’ on Thanksgiving morning ._.

    In addition to that, I’ll be making butternut squash with a maple-‘butter’ dressing (Earth Balance is involved, again -_^) and spiced apples and pears with walnuts, the latter recipe from ‘The Everything Vegan Slow Cooker Cookbook’. Since the apples and pears are a slow-cooker recipe, I’ll probably just put them in my slow cooker the night before Thanksgiving, so they’ll be ready in the morning, which will save me a bit of time while I’m making the green bean and leek casserole, plus my slow cooker has one of those locking lid systems, so I should be able to just carry that dish over to my parents’ place ‘as-is’ without needing to cover it or use a separate container…very, very convenient ! Just as with the casserole, I’ll probably do a ‘dress rehearsal’ with the apples and pears this week to make sure everything will go as planned for Thanksgiving.

    It’s really great that there are so many vegan options (cookbooks, ingredients, as well as mock meats) available these days: it really does make things like holiday meals a whole lot easier.

    • Ginny Messina November 19, 2013 at 11:09 am - Reply

      I had that vegan roast from Trader Joe’s last year, and it was really good! I agree, these veggie meats are especially valuable for non-vegans who aren’t sure what to make for vegan guests. Your other recipes sound wonderful!

  6. Ginny November 25, 2013 at 4:30 am - Reply

    Awesome! This is my second year having a Vegan Thanksgiving woot! Last year was my first and it went pretty good. But this year will be even better now that I know tons more and stuff. Here is the link to my pin board ♥

  7. Zyxomma November 28, 2013 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    This year, after spending several Thanksgivings with the ex’s family (I brought my own food as the only vegan), a vegan neighbor and I went out for a meal at East Village stalwart, Angelica Kitchen. Five courses (I took home 2/3 of the salad, 1/3 of the main, and most of the dessert), with cranberry honey wine from CA, and so good I went into the kitchen to thank the cooks. I made my famous mushroom gravy yesterday, mashed some potatoes tonight (roasted garlic, olive oil, and homemade almond milk), and have a beautiful, local, organic winter squash to bake for tomorrow’s meal, as a supplement to the leftovers. Health and peace.

  8. Nancy November 25, 2014 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Nice menu, thanks! While veggie broth is good, can I recommend something? Not-Chick’n bouillon cubes. (They also have veggie flavored). Made by Edward & Son. I cannot tell the difference in this chicken broth and the real thing. Neither can my family and none of them are vegan! All this time they think I’ve been using chicken broth.

    Again, thanks for the menu. Happy Thanksgiving!

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