Take the stress out of holiday meal planning with these easy vegan Thanksgiving recipes. From appetizers to dessert, learn how to create a scrumptious meal everyone will enjoy plus tips for holiday entertaining.
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A Vegan Thanksgiving
I've been in charge of cooking Thanksgiving for most of my adult life. And I don't mind since it's my favorite holiday.
As a kid I used to love helping my mom in the kitchen. That is until she put the appetizer spread out on the living room coffee table and I ran over, eagerly digging into to her mouthwatering onion dip.
Now I enjoy spending the days leading up to the holiday planning my menu and shopping for seasonal ingredients. I love the anticipation of having dear friends and family over to spend quality time together laughing and eating.
But I admit, once I became vegan, I did have to shift my thinking a little when it came to planning the meal. However, now that I've been hosting Thanksgiving dinner for years, I'm happy to share my tips and most-loved vegan Thanksgiving recipes with you to make your holiday as stress-free as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Practically every traditional Thanksgiving dish has a vegan version. Some vegans choose to mimic the favorites they grew up with of turkey, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. While others like to plan their menu around non-traditional dishes such as Pumpkin Chili or Vegan Pasta Bake.
I've always loved making a meal out of vegan side dish recipes. But these days it's easy to find a wide variety of plant-based turkey substitutes, even at your local supermarket.
Most vegan meat substitutes including vegan turkey ("tofurkey") are made from tofu and vital wheat gluten (seitan.) If you have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, you will need to check the ingredients very carefully before purchasing.
While vegans don't eat butter since it's made from dairy, there are a wide variety of butter substitutes on the market that are perfect for use in cooking. They are made from ingredients such as vegetable oil, coconut oil, and/or nuts. In addition, for many vegan Thanksgiving recipes, it's possible to use extra virgin olive oil in place of butter.
The easiest way to plan your Thanksgiving menu is to start with a main dish. Then build out the rest of the menu to go with that main. Start with the sides and then add some appetizers. Lastly, choose a dessert or two, or ask your guests to provide the desserts so you can serve a variety.
Vegan Thanksgiving Main Dishes
As I mentioned in the FAQ above, I like to start my meal planning with the main dish. Over the years I've found that people struggle the most with what to serve instead of turkey. Once you make this decision, it's relatively easy to come up with everything to serve with it.
Instead of purchasing a meat substitute, I like to serve a dish that shines as the star of the dinner plate.
And I've also enjoyed One Ingredient Chef's Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie.
Vegan Thanksgiving Sides
As I've mentioned, I'm more than happy to make a meal out of delicious side dishes. And this is an easy strategy to incorporate a Mediterranean diet into your holiday menu since it's a common way of eating in this lifestyle. Choose as many sides as you want since there can never be too many, in my opinion!
Vegan Thanksgiving Appetizers
I love serving a big appetizer spread for people to snack on while I prepare dinner. I tend to buy a few favorites like Miyoko's artisan vegan cheeses made from cashews along with crackers, raw vegetables, and assorted olives. Then I make some easy homemade dips a day or two in advance and refrigerate them.
Vegan soup and salad recipes
Not everyone serves soup and salad at Thanksgiving, but I like to offer a couple of choices, even if it's at the same time I serve the rest of the meal. And salads are especially easy for meal prep since you can make them in advance.
Vegan Thanksgiving Desserts
One of my tips for reducing Thanksgiving dinner stress is to ask your guests to bring the desserts. But if you have time and enjoy baking, these are some of my favorite vegan Thanksgiving recipes for dessert.
- If you want to go with a traditional dessert with some flair, I suggest trying No-Bake Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake from Dianne of Dianne's Vegan Kitchen.
- Vegan Pumpkin Pie from Marina of Yummy Mummy Kitchen is a vegan version of the holiday classic.
- And Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Crunch Topping is a winner in my house year after year.
Tips for hosting a vegan Thanksgiving
- Plan ahead: Invite your guests well in advance and ask if they have any allergies or dietary restrictions. Make a list of the recipes you want to make and decide if you will serve them at the table or buffet style.
- Ask for help: Ask your guests to bring specific items when they offer such as beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), appetizers, or desserts. Assign members of your household cleaning tasks.
- Go grocery shopping early in the week: Avoid the weekend before Thanksgiving, if you can, and between 4 and 6 pm on weekdays. Make sure you have your list prepared before you shop.
- Set the table the day before: You'll have less to worry about on the big day if all the glasses, silverware, and plates are ready to go. And it will give you extra time to find that gravy boat you haven't seen since last Thanksgiving.
- Give yourself some grace: Don't put pressure on yourself to be perfect. Thanksgiving is about spending time with loved ones, so try to enjoy yourself.
- Always make more food than you think you'll need: Not only is it awkward to run out, you'll want plenty of leftovers so you won't have to cook for the rest of the week!
If you make any of these vegan Thanksgiving recipes, or any of the other recipes on the website, I would love to see your creations! Use the hashtag #veggiessavetheday on Instagram and tag Veggies Save The Day so I don’t miss seeing what’s cooking in your kitchen.
And join the Vegan Mediterranean Diet Recipes Facebook Group for support, inspiration, and fun!