Communication is the key.
Ask your vegetarian or vegan guests in advance how you can best accommodate them. You may be surprised at their answers! For example, I neither expect nor want people to go out of their way for me, and I often bring a few of my own favorite Thanksgiving dishes to share. Don't be afraid to ask your guests to help out! They'll likely be touched that you're considerate enough to care.
You may be able to make a few simple substitutions to dishes you are already preparing so that your veggie guests can eat them. Use vegetable broth instead of a meat-based broth in your stuffing and gravy. Substitute soymilk and vegan margarine for milk and butter in mashed potatoes. Easy as pie, right? Speaking of pie, here's plenty of beautiful vegan pies, if that's your thing.
Link: Simple Thanksgiving substitutes for vegetarians and vegans
If you’re uncertain whether or not your guests will eat a certain food, its best to ask them directly.
If you have prepared something that your veggie guest is unable to eat, don’t take it personally. By communicating in advance, there should be some understanding, but mistakes happen. If you have made a genuine effort to accommodate your guests, they will likely be appreciative.
Tofurky or not to Tofurky?
At Thanksgiving, some vegetarians are perfectly happy to enjoy all the traditional sides and do not need a substitute for the turkey as a centerpiece. They may be happy with a non-traditional entree or no entree at all. Others prefer to have a turkey substitute at the center of their table, whether its a store-bought roast such as Tofurky or another vegetarian turkey, or a homemade loaf. Find out in advance which your guests would prefer. Your guests may not want or expect you to go out of your way for them by preparing a roast, so be sure to ask!
Encourage vegetarian kids and teens to take an active role in preparing food that everyone can enjoy.If you are dealing with a single fussy family member, think of a creative compromise. For example, one year as a new vegan, I made a deal with my family: I would plan, shop, prepare the entire meal and clean up afterwards as long as nobody minded that the meal would be vegetarian. This is a great compromise for my non-vegetarian family: they get to relax and enjoy the holiday, and got to eat an amazing meal! Everybody was happy.
If you don’t feel like cooking there are a few things you can do:
- If you don’t want to prepare an entire vegetarian roast, try picking up some vegetarian turkey deli slices, such as Tofurkey’s cranberry deli slices . When warmed up for a few minutes in the microwave, they are much like sliced turkey. Douse in vegetarian gravy, dip in potatoes and enjoy!
- You may be able to order an entirely vegetarian or vegan Thanksgiving feast no assembly required. Whole Foods offers a pre-cooked vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner, as do many larger health food stores, or you can order veggie sides a la carte from Whole Foods.
- If you want to do the cooking yourself, but need a little help, many Whole Foods and local co-op grocery stores are offer vegetarian Thanksgiving cooking classes in the weeks before Thanksgiving.