by Natalie Yera
“What are you going to eat at Thanksgiving?” were the first words out of my mother’s mouth when I told her I had decided to become a vegetarian four years ago. Well, Mom, I hadn’t really thought that far ahead — it was only March, after all. For me the diet transition was seamless; for my friends and family, specifically my mother, not so much. I grew up on criollo cooking, especially dish after dish of chicken and pork prepared with rich spices and seasonings. It was amazing and delicious, but certain ingredients no longer fit my lifestyle.
I do my best trying to convince Mom how healthy my diet is. Emerson College clinical dietitian Elizabeth Avery confirmed that those who follow a plant-based diet are associated with having “lower risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and hypertension.” Avery added: “Vegetarians typically have lower low-density lipoprotein (or ‘bad cholesterol’) values and body mass index.”
Avery suggested that people “with hypertension, high cholesterol or a family history of colon cancer may want to consider the vegetarian diet, or at least follow a mostly plant-based eating plan.”
So why not make over one of the year’s most significant meals as a vegan feast? After years of playing in the kitchen, I have settled on these vegan Thanksgiving recipes that will even please carnivorous pals:
Traditional Bread and Sausage Stuffing by Hot for Food
Stuffing is a vital part to any Thanksgiving meal. I substitute tofu for the vegan apple sage sausage if I am being more budget conscious, but this sausage has fantastic flavoring and is a must-try. Substituting gluten-free bread can make this recipe friendly to those who have intolerances to gluten.
Butternut Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole by Minimalist Baker
I have followed Dana Shultz, better know as Minimalist Baker, since her early days on Tumblr posting recipe after recipe of easy-to-follow plant-based concoctions, and this one is particularly satisfying. What is amazing about Shultz’s recipes is that you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen. The pecans are the best part of this recipe, and I recommend throwing on some vegan marshmallows for extra sweetness.
Green Bean Casserole by The Edgy Veg
Instead of opening a can and consuming your daily allowance of salt, follow the lead of Candice Hutchings, aka The Edgy Veg, who shows you how to build a casserole with a simple soup, hardy green beans and a French-fried onion topping. This recipe is the perfect combination of creamy and delicious and will wow your non-vegan guests, and you won’t feel bad for consuming seconds.
The Vegducken by Hot for Food
This recipe isn’t for the faint of heart, but the result is delicious. Like cooking a turkey on Thanksgiving, this zucchini stuffed inside of an eggplant inside of a squash is a process. Lauren Toyota and John Diemer laugh and curse their way testing this obscure creation on their YouTube channel. If you aren’t feeling up to being Einstein in the kitchen, buy a frozen pre-made turkey substitute (such as Tofurky Veggie Roast) at the grocery store.
Vegan Pumpkin Pie by The Green Forks
And last, but certainly not least, when it comes to creating a Thanksgiving meal, dessert is necessary. This vegan pumpkin pie doesn’t make you feel bad for getting seconds with all of the healthy fats baked into it. The combination of fresh ginger, cinnamon and coconut oil all aid in helping promote good digestion. This pie appears darker than traditional pumpkin pie because of the use of the maple syrup. It will conclude a meal that convinces your non-vegan friends how delicious this diet can be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Natalie Yera is in her first year of the M.A. program in publishing and writing at Emerson College. She recently returned from spending five months studying in London and a month backpacking through parts of Eastern and Western Europe. Natalie has a deep love for Corgis and thin-crust pizza. She is originally from Buffalo, New York. Follow her at @NatalieYera.