No one likes to hear the words “dietary restrictions” around the time of a holiday that’s literally centered on food, but when setting the table for a mixed crowd, it can be helpful to whip up options that everyone can enjoy. Thanksgiving has never been the vegan-friendliest celebration—the pilgrims were not carving up a tofurkey, for instance—but a little bit of ingenuity can not only make every mouth happy at dinner but also lighten up the meal to leave plenty of room for seconds or dessert (and then seconds of dessert).
If you’ve got a fully vegan crew, then consider your menu planned. If you’re hosting both vegan and non-vegan guests, consider offering some of these plant-based versions of classic Thanksgiving dishes side-by-side. If you’re simply interested in cutting back on dairy, eggs, and meat to make dinner a healthier or more earth-conscious affair, you probably don’t even need to say the word “vegan” when you put these dishes out to share—they’re so good, they don’t need any introduction.
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This recipe is a bit labor-intensive, but hey, so is turkey—all that defrosting and brining and roasting and basting and resting and carving, who wants to go through that trouble? Instead, take the time, energy, and enthusiasm you normally reserve for the bird into mixing up this protein platter of pumpkin-crusted tempeh, quinoa, roasted chestnuts, and roasted pumpkin for a seasonal sensation that will quickly have you thinking, “Turkey? What turkey?” (Bonus: totally guilt-free leftovers for sandwiches the next day.) Get the recipe.
This garlicky-good side dish will make everybody forget the old-fashioned limp green beans with slivered almonds that passes as a “healthy” side at these get-togethers. A creamy mushroom sauce made from non-dairy milk, non-dairy butter, and a tiny bit of flour subs in for a heavy béchamel without sacrificing any of the flavor, and the beans stay crisp enough to remind you that yes, you are in fact eating real vegetables. Get the recipe.
Another easy way to add some green to the plate is with a heaping helpful of coconut-cream spinach, comfort food at the ultimate. Frozen spinach not only makes this dish a cinch to slap together, but it also gives it that perfect kind of gloopy texture you remember from holidays (and cafeterias) past. Get the recipe.
There are two types of people in this world: Those who like their sweet potatoes with marshmallow, and those who don’t. Thankfully we’ve got both covered: This dish calls for a spiced topping of aquafaba—chickpea-can liquid or pot liquor whipped up into a cream-like foam—that is fluffy, sweet, and as heaven-pillow light as roasted marshmallows, without the icky gelatin. If you like your side dishes to straddle the border between dinner and dessert, this recipe is your ticket to paradise. Get the recipe.
Not into the marshmallow thing? No problem: This nutty, maple-syrup-kissed casserole has the perfect balance of warm homey flavors, slight crunch, and sweet, comforting decadence—no ‘mallows (or substitutes) to be seen. Get the recipe.
Jiffy cornbread mix is the secret ingredient to this vegetarian classic, combining the sweetness of corn with the depth of flavor added by the Scarborough Fair flavors of parsley, sage, and thyme. (See below for rosemary, to complete the tune.) Onion and celery add texture, and a bit of imitation-chicken flavor rounds out the “Wait, this is vegan?” surprise. Get the recipe.
Look, why not have two stuffings on the table? Heaven knows everybody loves stuffing. This sweet-and-savory version combines the tart pop of apples and cranberries with the earthy, herbaceous note of rosemary for a more complex flavor profile that is so good it can almost anchor the plate as a main. Smash leftovers into patties and pan fry them for the perfect griddle cake, topped with poached or fried eggs for your non-vegan morning gang. Get the recipe.
Creamy, sweet, luxurious, and the perfect way to end an evening of plant-based indulgence, this show-stopping pie builds on a date-nut crust with a creamy layer of tangy cashew-cheesecake and a classic top of silky pumpkin goodness. Serve with a scoop of vanilla soy or coconut-milk iced cream and a steaming cup of hot coffee, and you’ve simply outdone yourself this year, my friend. Get the recipe.
And for more vegan menu ideas, check out The Best YouTube Cooking Shows for Vegans.
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