If I’m counting correctly, this year will be my 5th Thanksgiving with no turkey.
Do I miss a turkey filled holiday? Nope, not a bit lol. If anything, cooking a Thanksgiving dinner vegan style cuts my kitchen time in half, while doubling the deliciousness. No more defrosting frozen turkey overnight. No more 5 hours (plus forever) cooking. No more cramming everything-into-the-oven-around-the-turkey game. Oh, and no more standing in the kitchen for 30 minutes after dinner carving and sorting white and dark meat.
Yeah, trust me, it’s wonderful.
So what DO I do for Thanksgiving? And what can you do to celebrate the best Thanksgiving with no turkey?
Well, number one, I make everything from scratch- that includes rolls, cranberries, and stuffing (you won’t find a box mix or canned cranberries on my table). I find that the less I have to focus on a turkey, the more I can focus on all those yummy “sides,” making them delicious and moan-worthy. Loading up on all those holiday favorites is one of the keys to celebrating a really good meat-free Thanksgiving. It shows you that you really aren’t “giving up” a lot, and that yes, a vegan Thanksgiving dinner can be just as good (if not, better) than one with meat.
Related: It’s ThanksGIVING, Not ThanksGETTING
Number two, for my “centerpiece,” I like to try something different every year. I feel that it’s best to leave the imitations at the door for your first year with no bird. Otherwise, you may have guests that start to do the comparison game. Try to do something completely different. The first “no turkey” year is what I like to compare to the first year you found out about Santa (Sshhh, we gotta keep that on the down-low around here). This is when we find out what Thanksgiving is really about (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not turkey).
For your Thanksgiving centerpiece, here are a few ideas to keep your holiday rich in food, love, and compassion:
1) Southern Fried Tempeh: I REALLY love tempeh. Like, REALLY. I made southern fried tempeh last year for Thanksgiving, and it was the perfect addition to my holiday! You can bread it with a mix of flour, nutritional yeast, and herbs (like basil, parsley, and thyme), and then pan fry it until golden brown. We didn’t have any leftovers lol. Another bonus? It’s not as expensive as buying a turkey. Win-win!
2) German Mushroom Strudel: This was such a hit on Thanksgiving that I made it two years in a row. Having a vegetable strudel is great because it gives you a big centerpiece, while at the same time gives you something completely different that doesn’t try to imitate turkey. I always loved it! You can make your own style of veggie strudel by substituting meat for a variety of vegetables, including mushrooms and red cabbage.
3) Tofurky: I want to shake things up a bit this year, so it will be my first with a Tofurky. Recently, we did a test run, and I thought it was pretty damn good. The pros? It slices like a turkey, and I enjoy the taste. It was easy to cook, and didn’t take very long. The cons? I wasn’t into the stuffing. In fact, I wish they made a tofurky with no stuffing at all- cause you just can’t beat homemade. Overall though, with some good southern gravy it adds something different to your vegan Thanksgiving, and is a holiday favorite for many vegan families.
4) DIY Tofurkey: Still want a “turkey” but want something a little cheaper, bigger, and healthier? Try my DIY Homemade Tofurkey!! I’ve perfected this recipe to make sure it’s a hit, and I include a tastier stuffing than the store-bought tofurky. This recipe is available in my lovely eBook, “The Vegan Thanksgiving Playbook,” which includes 14 mouth-watering recipes, meal plans, and cook schedules to create an easy, stress-free holiday. You can download it instantly by clicking here.
Lastly, I want to take a moment to express the reason why I celebrate Thanksgiving meat-free.
Honestly, it’s that during this time of great thanks, I don’t want to kill something to be thankful. In fact, strangely enough, when you stop to think about it, a holiday that is really supposed to be about thankfulness, abundance, and love is centered around the idea of killing life. Kinda morbid wouldn’t you say?
Every year it is estimated that over 65 million turkeys are slaughtered for our holiday. Most people don’t care. Some people think it’s sad, but aren’t willing to change.
For me personally, celebrating a meat-free holiday is a peaceful protest. I don’t think the majority really knows what goes on behind closed doors, and simply go off of the “what I don’t know won’t hurt me” policy. However, when we open our eyes to the cruelty and unfortunate excess of violence that is happening every day, it is really hard to look at a turkey and think happy thoughts. So, I ask you today to please educate yourself on what is really happening in this country, and take the steps towards living a compassionate holiday with love and peace.
After all, Thanksgiving at it’s core is about love.
This holiday, remember why you should keep compassion in your heart and meat off your plate!
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