How Any Vegan Can Easily Navigate The Thanksgiving Table

vegan Thanksgiving diet nutrition

Being vegan, vegetarian or even plant-based during Thanksgiving brings its own set of challenges, but navigating the holiday table doesn't have to be one of them.


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What Is Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day, is a public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. It originated as a harvest festival that celebrated the bounty of the land. The "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. The meaning of Thanksgiving is universal – it’s an expression of gratitude, especially to God.

You’re A Vegan, Thanksgiving Is Here, And You Are Dreading It

Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude and thanks. Typically Thanksgiving is not a vegan holiday. In fact, the Thanksgiving holiday has many vegans concerned about what they can eat as well as their objections of the turkey that sits at the center table. Although vegans disapprove of the turkey, they can still partake in the Thanksgiving meal and enjoy the day.

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Pretend You’re At The Supermarket

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If you are vegan, navigating buffets and other meals are probably second-nature to you. But if you’re concerned about what to eat at your family’s non-vegan Thanksgiving table, you need worry no more.

The Method

Navigating the Thanksgiving table for a vegan is much like shopping in a supermarket. To avoid junk and processed goods in a supermarket, you’d normally avoid the center of the store, shopping only the perimeter of the supermarket for healthier foods. In the same way, vegans can avoid the main attraction -- turkey.

With the turkey center table, you can get creative from food items that sit around the turkey because Thanksgiving is all about the sides. Assuming your Thanksgiving sides are mostly healthy, it’s best to make a meal from the side dishes that you can enjoy since these foods are mostly vegan. For example, a sample vegan plate can include any of the following Thanksgiving staples:

  • Corn
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • String beans
  • Stuffed Artichokes
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Turnips
  • Parsnips
  • Meatless Stuffing
  • Winter Squash
  • Corn bread
  • Cranberry Relish
  • Salad
  • Wine

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Get Creative!

It is possible to be vegan at a non-vegan table, you just need some creativity. First understand that you are entitled to your beliefs, but the last thing you want to do is insult your host. From the above ingredients, there are several possibilities for creating a delicious vegan plate that you can enjoy without feeling as though you are missing out on the holiday festivities.

Don’t Show Up Hungry and Always Be Gracious

If you’re worried some of the foods served at Thanksgiving dinner are foods you cannot eat or object to, don’t be vocal about it. Instead, do a gracious deed for your host. One idea is to offer to prepare some vegan sides that you can also enjoy adding to the meal. It’s also ok to eat your own vegan meal before attending a non-vegan Thanksgiving dinner. This will help you to better navigate the table without feeling hungry. The holidays are more about being together. Focus on the company, stay gracious and make the best of the day.