Food

4 Tips for the Perfect Vegan Thanksgiving

Don't miss our must-read tips for throwing a Thanksgiving meal that doesn't compromise your ideals.

The holidays can be a stressful time of year, and hosting is the most taxing job of all. When families reunite, there is bound to be some tension, especially if you and your visitors don't share the same veg eating habits. If you plan to host a meal for meat-eaters as well as the veg-inclined, it can be tempting to arrange for some conventional, meat-and-dairy-filled dishes so that no one feels threatened, but nowadays there's no need. Thanksgiving is only two weeks away, but don't panic. There's still plenty of time to plan the perfect menu to dazzle all your guests, whether they are already veg or not.

Eat First, Label Later
When inviting company, don't emphasize that you are planning an exclusively vegan meal. Try to remember that people eat vegan food every day—they just don't label it that way. The mind has a funny way of altering our experiences based on perception alone, so let the food speak for itself. You might even want to test out your menu with some omni friends before the big event, so you can be sure every dish will be a hit with eaters of every persuasion.

Add Familiar Flavors
In a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, the only non-veg dish that comes to mind is the turkey. Once you replace that with something even better, the rest of the meal should be a cakewalk. Plant-based cuisine contains all the flavor, texture, and color you need to satisfy the senses, so prepare whole plant foods instead of mock meats for a centerpiece dish. Vegetable torte or stuffed squash are both beautiful, satisfying alternatives to turkey. All typical holiday side dishes—mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls, and green bean casserole—are easily veganized by using vegetable oil, margarine, and non-dairy milk in place of high-fat dairy.

Think Seasonal
Each season offers a bounty of vegetables, and autumn is no exception. Broccoli, carrots, chestnuts, cranberries, squash, and turnips all reach their peak in November. Highlighting these foods makes your meal environmentally friendly and more economical, as well as animal-free. With issues like global warming and the economy on everyone's mind, focusing on fresh, accessible veggies makes even more sense. The more colorful the better!

End With A Bang
Once people taste decadent dairy-free desserts, they never again perceive vegan sweets as inferior. Fruit crisp, pumpkin pie, apple pie with coconut milk ice cream... the possibilities are endless. And don't forget about tasty veg cocktails. Do your research and pick the perfect cruelty-free red or white wine to complement your meal, and all guests will go home happy.

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