Your Guide to a Very Vegan Thanksgiving

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After four years of hosting vegan Thanksgiving dinners at our home, my partner and I have become pretty effective at planning a menu that pleases both our omnivorous and herbivorous loved ones without causing a dangerous spike in our cortisol levels. However, it wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine with our holiday planning. During our first Thanksgiving holiday together, our kitchen was a disaster. My partner and I were beyond frustrated with each other and it was the first time I had tried “veganizing” a menu for so many people. Thankfully, with that frustration came experience, and these are the tips I wish I would have known back then:

Plan Ahead

Whether or not it is your first time hosting a plant-based Thanksgiving, planning ahead is crucial. Not just from picking what menu items you want to include, but actually trying the recipe beforehand. I was completely overzealous during my first vegan Thanksgiving. My menu was made up of a variety of items I had never made and needless to say, not everything turned out like I had planned.

Share What You Are Making

Instead of our guests feeling deprived by what was not on our table, we wanted them to see what was. We included little cards with handwritten ingredients so everyone could see what went into their green bean casserole or their homemade cranberry sauce. Our guests really appreciated the thought that went into their meals and everyone knew what they were eating.

Don’t Cook More Than You Need

During my first Thanksgiving, I think I made enough mashed potatoes for the rest of the year! Try to keep portions and servings in line with how many people will actually be attending. Also, ask your guests to bring containers to take any leftovers home. We ran out of containers before we ran out of leftovers and the only option was wrapping food in tin foil, which as you can probably guess, is not great for travel.

If People Volunteer To Help, Accept It

Four years ago, I wanted to prove I could host Thanksgiving without any help. Although our moms offered, profusely, I simply smiled and declined. I thought to myself, what is some cooking and cleaning? Between my partner and me, we should have this under complete control with time to spare! Needless to say, that after tidying up the whole house, cooking the dinner, setting the table and taking care of the dogs, I was literally hopping out of the shower as my first guest was arriving. Whether it is someone offering to help tidy up, do the dishes, or perhaps offer to dog sit while you are running around, accept it!

In regards to the dishes, if someone offers to help you cook, thank them and take them up on it! In the past, what has worked the best for us was to ask the person what they wanted to cook, and then provide them with a few vegan versions of the recipe. In my experience, guests have been really open to creating plant-based meals and are so proud when their dish turns out amazing!

Clean As You Go

Don’t let the pots and pans stack up in the sink. This only creates one huge, overwhelming pile at the end of the night. Instead, try cleaning as you go! My goal for the past few years has been to clean the first few pots, pans, and spoons by hand while I’m still in the kitchen watching over other dishes cooking on the stove. When things are wrapping up, I will then start putting dishes in the dishwasher and then hop into the shower while my final load of dishes is getting cleaned.

Make New Traditions

One of the hardest things for me was not engaging in the same traditions I took part in before I went vegan. No more breaking the wishbone with my sister or putting cloves in our baking ham with my mom. However, now we get to make new traditions. My partner and I pick the sage from our own plant for our Tofurkey every year. We even end the night making vegan Smores outside by our fire pit, and we “Adopt a Turkey” from Farm Sanctuary, where we make a donation that goes to the care of a turkey rescued from factory farming.

Recipe Ideas

What would a guide to Thanksgiving be without recipes? Below are some of my favorite go-to websites for some amazing vegan/vegetarian Thanksgiving meals:

All Around Vegan Holiday Recipes: http://www.peta.org/living/food/celebrate-vegan-holiday/

The Creamy Artichoke Dip is always a hit, along with the Butternut Squash Soup.

Awesome Vegan Side Dishes: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/holidays/our-favorite-recipes/vegan

The Roasted Garlic and Parsnip Vegan Gravy, and the raw Cranberry Sauce is amazing!

 

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