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Welcoming Vegetarian and Vegan Guests to Your Thanksgiving Table

By Jamie Miller, Village Health Clubs and Spas Dietician

Thanksgiving is a special time to make memories with family and friends and bond over a delicious meal. Although accommodating other people’s food restrictions can be tricky. Not sure how to make a crowd pleasing dish that can be enjoyed by your vegetarian and vegan friends on Thanksgiving? Registered dietitian, Jamie Miller, has a few tips to keep everyone – meat-eaters, vegetarians, and the busy host alike – all happy on Turkey Day.

Alter Your Ingredients for Side Dishes

It’s a given that your vegetarian and vegan guests won’t be enjoying any turkey on their plate, but one easy way to provide options for your guests is to focus on ensuring that the side dishes are plant based. This could be a perfect year to try a new stuffing recipe sans sausage so all can enjoy. Furthermore, you need to remember what common ingredients beyond meat must be avoided to keep to the guest’s dietary restrictions. Vegans don’t eat dairy or animal products of any kind which includes things like butter, chicken stock, and cream. The good news is that it can be easy to swap those ingredients. For example, you can make mashed potatoes with nut based milk and vegan butter instead of regular milk and butter. Additionally, you can use veggie broth instead of chicken stock in the stuffing. Here’s a helpful chart to refer to while cooking this year

Vegan Ingredient Substitutions

Animal Based Ingredient Vegan Substitution
Dairy Milk
Plant Based Milk (Unsweetened Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Oat Milk)
Cream
Canned Coconut Cream
Buttermilk
1 cup Plant Based Milk + 1 Tbsp of Lemon Juice or Vinegar
Butter
Vegan Butter, Avocado Oil, or Olive Oil
Parmesan
Nutritional Yeast
Egg (For Baking)
Applesauce or Flax Egg (1 Tbsp of Flax Meal and 3 Tbsp of Water)
Yogurt
Coconut or Cashew Yogurt
Honey
Maple Syrup or Agave Nectar

If you are able, another option is to set aside a small portion of recipes to be kept vegan or vegetarian before adding the rest of the ingredients. For example, you could set aside a salad without cheese before tossing, or some of a brussels sprouts dish before adding bacon, or bake a separate portion of the stuffing in a ramekin before adding the rest to the inside of the turkey. A great hostess is thoughtful of their guests and their specific preferences, but you also can ensure you keep to traditional favorite recipes at the same time!

What’s on the Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu?

There’s also plenty of dishes that are naturally vegetarian such as Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash  instead of a typical sugary sweet potato casserole. Or Garlicky Green Beans with Slivered Almonds skips on the rich, creamy mushroom sauce and fried toppings, but is still full of flavor. And items like Vegan Creamed Corn and Wild Rice Stuffing will add excitement to your spread while being safe for all the enjoy.

 

There are a few meal components that just can’t easily be made vegan such as gravy, since turkey drippings are the base. But there’s plenty of ready to make vegetarian gravy mixes that can be purchased. Or you can make your own pretty easily such as this 5 Minute Vegan Gravy.

 

Instead of turkey as the main event, many vegetarians are happy to simply enjoy all the special sides. But if you would like to treat your guests to something special, their main entree could be something like Stuffed Acorn Squash.

And no meal would be complete without some Pumpkin Pie. Try out a pie recipe that is not only dairy free, but also gluten free for all guests to enjoy dessert together. Just top with some coconut whipped topping!

Happy Thanksgiving From the Village!

No matter what your Thanksgiving dinner looks like this year, the Village wishes you a memorable, delicious Thanksgiving shared with your loved ones. For a personalized look into your individual health needs and nutrition goals, reach out to Village dietitian, Jamie Miller. P: 713-494-2030 E: jamiller@dmbclubs.com

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