The centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner for most people is the turkey, though classic side dishes like mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet yams, hot rolls and various casseroles are the combined elements that make Thanksgiving dinner what it is. But if you have vegans coming to dinner or are trying to lead a vegan lifestyle yourself, some adjustments will have to be made to the turkey, chicken broth- and cream-infused casseroles, and marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes. Here are some ideas to harness vegan-friendly ingredients for a stellar Thanksgiving dinner that will not leave you wanting:
Rather than creating a gravy from turkey giblets and other parts you’d rather not think about, use regular button mushrooms and vegetable broth to make a delicious sauce that’s both healthy and flavorful. For a savory meat-free gravy, you can also use red wine and shallots or roasted garlic.
Many times, stuffing is made with savory bread pieces, celery, onions and chicken broth. But you can find several recipes online that use ingredients like vegan cornbread, apples, chestnuts and vegetable shortening for a sweet and savory stuffing that everyone will love.
The main dish
You can still roast a turkey for your non-vegan guests, but when it comes to a main course for your vegetarian and vegan friends, consider using earthy, protein-packed lentils. Look for a hearty recipe online, such as a shepherd’s pie made with lentils and veggies, topped with mashed potatoes, or a variation on meatloaf made with lentils. For dishes you typically make with chicken, you can use vegan “chicken,” which can be found in the frozen section of most grocery stores, or purchase textured vegetable protein.
A side dish
Everyone loves butternut squash, so consider making a mouthwatering butternut squash macaroni and cheese. You can make it vegan by substituting regular milk for rich coconut milk, and using soy cheese. Look online for these recipes for a rave-worthy dish. For a lighter side dish, make a simple and bright salad using arugula, bulgur wheat, pomegranate seeds and chopped hazelnuts with a light vinaigrette dressing.
Dairy-free desserts are all the rage today because it’s really easy to do them right and end up with a product that is just as tasty as – if not tastier than - their dairy-including counterparts. Look online for a pumpkin cheesecake, pie or apple dumpling recipe to harness the flavors of the season in a vegan-friendly way.