Crafting a Thanksgiving Feast for All: Pleasing Meat Lovers, Vegetarians, and Vegans

by Joshua Brown
Inclusive Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving, a time for gathering and feasting, often brings together a diverse mix of dietary preferences. In many families, including mine, it’s becoming increasingly common to have vegetarians or vegans joining the festive table alongside traditional meat eaters.

In our household, vegetarianism and veganism are familiar dietary choices. My sister Lizzie, along with her daughters, embraced vegetarianism and later veganism. My mother also adopted a vegetarian lifestyle later in her life. While there are those who eagerly anticipate the turkey and its accompaniments, a significant portion of our guests are solely interested in vegetarian or vegan options.

Our commitment at Workman family Thanksgivings is to ensure everyone leaves satiated and joyful. Therefore, we strive to cater to all dietary needs without adding excessive complexity to the meal preparation.

The strategy we employ revolves around offering a variety of meat-free sides, some of which are hearty enough to serve as main courses for those who do not consume meat. We also tweak certain dishes to make them vegan-friendly when possible.

To ensure vegetarians and vegans have ample choices, consider the following:

Stuffing: We prepare a vegetarian stuffing base using vegetable broth. A portion is set aside for vegetarians, while the remaining is enriched with turkey juices for meat eaters. For a vegan version, sauté vegetables in vegan butter and consider adding vegan sausage or seitan.

Mashed Potatoes: We cook a large quantity of potatoes, mashing some with dairy products for traditional tastes and others with plant-based milk and vegan butter (sometimes with vegan sour cream) for vegans.

Salad: Go beyond basic greens by adding roasted vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains like farro or bulgur, and homemade croutons.

Soups: A vegan soup can be an appetizing starter. Options include mushroom barley, lentil tomato, or butternut squash, using vegetarian broth and vegan substitutes for dairy.

Roasted and Baked Vegetables: Roasting vegetables in olive oil makes them a universally appealing side. Baked stuffed vegetables, like acorn squash with vegan stuffing, are also a great option.

Grain Salads: Combine whole grains with vegetables, legumes, and an olive oil-based dressing. These salads are appealing warm or at room temperature and can include combinations like wild rice with cranberries or quinoa with sweet potatoes.

Desserts: While vegetarians generally have no issue with desserts, vegans might. Offering vegan dessert options is crucial. Improved vegan dessert recipes and ingredients have made this easier than before.

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with warmth, abundance, and deliciousness!

Additional Vegetarian and Vegan Thanksgiving Side Dishes:

  • Mushroom, Tomato, and White Bean Ragout
  • Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Casserole
  • Roasted Lemon Brussels Sprouts
  • Fall Farro and Vegetable Salad
  • Caponata
  • Lentil Salad

Katie Workman, a regular contributor to The Big Big News, is a renowned food writer and author of “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” Her insights into family-friendly cooking are shared on her blog at The Mom 100. Contact her at [email protected].

For more culinary stories, visit The Big Big News Recipes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Inclusive Thanksgiving Recipes

Can the same Thanksgiving dishes be adapted for both vegetarians and meat eaters?

Yes, many dishes can be adapted to suit both vegetarians and meat eaters. For example, a vegetarian base for stuffing can be divided, with one part enhanced for meat eaters, and another kept vegetarian or made vegan.

How can mashed potatoes be served to both vegans and non-vegans?

Prepare a large batch of potatoes and divide them into two pots. One batch can be mixed with traditional dairy ingredients, while the other can be made vegan using plant-based milk and vegan butter.

What are some vegan-friendly Thanksgiving dessert options?

There are many vegan dessert options available, such as vegan cheesecake. The availability of vegan baking ingredients has improved, making it easier to cater to vegan dietary needs.

Are there any hearty vegetarian dishes that can serve as a main course?

Yes, dishes like grain salads and stuffed vegetables can be substantial enough to serve as a main course for vegetarians and vegans.

How can I make Thanksgiving stuffing suitable for vegans?

Start with a vegetarian base using vegetable broth. For a vegan version, sauté vegetables in vegan butter and consider adding vegan sausage or seitan for extra flavor and texture.

More about Inclusive Thanksgiving Recipes

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TimmyTurner November 13, 2023 - 8:30 pm

my family’s all meat eaters but might try some of these to mix things up a bit, thanks for the ideas.

FoodieFran November 13, 2023 - 11:06 pm

Love the mashed potato idea! splitting them up for vegans and non-vegans is genius, makes everyone happy

HealthyHelen November 14, 2023 - 5:34 am

Good article but watch out for those vegan butters, not all of them are as healthy as they sound!

CuriousCarl November 14, 2023 - 7:59 am

i’m not a vegetarian but these ideas sound delicious, might have to give them a go, espec the grain salads.

Mark_the_Chef November 14, 2023 - 8:44 am

Great ideas but, what about the turkey?? Can’t forget the star of the show!

VeganLover101 November 14, 2023 - 1:08 pm

Finally some recognition for vegan options! But you missed mentioning nut roasts, they’re a staple at our vegan thanksgiving.


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