Do you think Thanksgiving needs to mean cooking a turkey? Absolutely not! You can celebrate this special holiday without straying from a plant-based vegan lifestyle.
A healthy, vegan meal might even help you prevent that afternoon crash in front of the TV (just don’t eat 4 plates worth). You’ll have ample energy for that game of flag football or catch after the big meal. And, most importantly, you’ll still have plenty of scrumptious leftovers to dole out.
Decorating for your Thanksgiving bash need not break the bank. Are you having a big crowd and lack sufficient chairs? No problem! Use hay bales to create an additional seating area — the stray strands pick up easily .
You can make a stylish centerpiece without spending a dime. Simply find a basket or vase and fill it with the vibrant hues of the season. Use branches with colorful leaves and acorns to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
As your guests arrive, you want them to enjoy light snacks and beverages while they mingle. This doesn’t mean setting out cans of salty, store-bought nuts and crisps. Give some of these vegan and healthy canapés a try.
- Sesame-ginger tofu skewers with peanut dipping sauce: These are high in protein so they’ll hold over hungry appetites if you still need considerable time to prep the main meal . The savory dipping sauce includes just a dash of sriracha for a flavorful kick.
- Creamy baked artichoke dip: This healthy dip is so rich and creamy, you’ll want to make it every Sunday until Superbowl. Serve this up with crispy vegetables like carrots and celery.
The Soup and Salad Course
An official soup and salad course instantly elevates your Thanksgiving feast. It makes guests feel like they’re dining in a 5-star restaurant. Here are two of the best to try.
- Fall harvest salad: This nutritious salad combines the best of seasonal vegetables in one dish. Every vivid hue represents a different phytonutrient profile, meaning your guests get a hefty serving of vitamins and minerals. The tanginess of the Tahini dressing makes flavors pop, but guests preferring a milder dressing can substitute balsamic vinaigrette.
- Spicy pepita raw kale soup: Is there any vegetable out there more nourishing than kale? Pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, provide additional protein and zinc to this creamy soup. You can garnish the top with some leftover spiralized beets and squash from the salad for an elegant plating idea.
The Main Dish
You have multiple options when it comes to your main dish. However, exercise caution with store-bought meat substitutes. Many qualify as ultra-processed, meaning they contain additives like salt, sugar, and processed oils & flours.
If you do decide to serve a meat substitute, seek out all-natural versions with no artificial flavors and minimally processed ingredients . Tofurky, Gardein, and Field Roast offer stuffed holiday vegan roasts.
Of course, you can prepare a fantastic main dish from scratch. This way, you know exactly which ingredients you’ve used — this way you know they’re healthy!
- Festive butternut roast: You can easily make this dish ahead of time and pop it in the oven on the big day. The lentils in this dish provide lean protein as well as vitamins and minerals. The cranberries add just the right amount of tartness to enhance the taste and texture of the squash.
- Turkey Tempeh: Tempeh contains probiotics, which can help feed your good intestinal bacteria. Since tempeh is a fermented soy product, so many people find it more digestible than tofu. The sage and rosemary flavors make this nearly indistinguishable from roasted turkey — minus the meat.
You can’t have a proper feast without some savory side dishes. Whip up some healthier twists on classic favorites like sweet potato pie and green beans almondine.
- Maple-glazed sweet potatoes: You don’t need to cover your sweet potatoes in sticky store-bought marshmallows to make a sweet side. The coconut oil adds healthy fats and maple syrup adds just the right amount of sweetness .
- Spelt stuffing: People who are intolerant to gluten, sometimes find that spelt is something they can eat. Plus, it’s a healthier alternative to bread made with processed flour . Choose the vegetable broth option to keep this recipe vegan. One should note that spelt does contain gluten, so if you’re celiac, it’s a no go. If you’re in need of a tasty gluten-free vegan stuffing, try this one out.
- Spaghetti squash with garlic and herbs: Spaghetti squash fills you up like pasta but contains relatively few calories per serving . Plus, it’s in season this time of year, meaning the nutrients are at their peak. The pine nuts add healthy fat and flavor. Since pine nuts are on the pricier side, feel free to substitute with any other nut. Seeds like sunflower, pumpkin and sesame work too if need to go nut-free!
- Green beans with red peppers and almonds: Blending red peppers with your green beans increases the phytonutrient profile and adds a tangy crunch . Almonds are a superfood containing high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium to help boost moods. We can’t guarantee they’ll diffuse a heated political argument around the table — but it’s worth a try.
Show Me the Sweet Stuff
The best part of any Thanksgiving feast? The dessert course. These tasty gems won’t pack on the pounds but will satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Vegan, gluten-free pumpkin pie: You can use vegan butter or coconut oil to enrich this creamy dessert. And because it’s gluten-free, you’ll please guests with additional dietary restrictions. Serve with a dollop of coconut cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
- Vegan apple crisp: This recipe calls for no added sugar and you can make it gluten-free. Plus, the ginger and nutmeg make your home smell delicious while this bakes! It tastes heavenly with a scoop of vegan ice cream.
For Little Appetites
Kids can be picky eaters. Most adventurous little ones will try a bite or two of adult dishes. But to avoid moans and groans, prep a few easy child-friendly options.
- Kid-friendly vegan chicken nuggets: Beans provide the protein for these nuggets while leaving Esther clucking in the farmyard. You can prepare these ahead of time — they take only four minutes per side to fry.
- Vegan Mac & cheese: What kid doesn’t love mac and cheese? The broccoli florets get little ones eating their veggies and smiling about it. Make a little extra — this dish is sure to delight adults as well. If you’re looking for a cashew-free version, try this simple and delicious sunflower seed-based recipe!
Fabulous Fall Punches
You want to keep your guests’ glasses full, but trying to cook and clean up the kitchen while filling champagne flutes leaves you running ragged. Mix up some flavorful punches — one for adults and one for kids and those who abstain. Vegan cocktails and mocktails are always a hit!
- Ultimate sparkling fruit punch: This drink is so chock-full of fruit, it qualifies as a dessert. And the little ones love this non-alcoholic “champagne” punch, too. The sparkling water keeps guests hydrated and happy.
- Mulled wine: This traditional holiday favorite is naturally vegan-friendly if you choose the right wine. Avoid those that use albumin or gelatin as fining agents, as both stem from animals. You can ask your local wine shop for recommendations or research online.
After the Big Meal
Finally, you’ll need to tidy up after the feast, but you want to keep your guests entertained — plus you want to join in the fun! If the weather is pleasant, set up a volleyball net or a cornhole game in your backyard. Or supply a few Nerf footballs that you can find inexpensively at any department store.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate, break out the board games. If you have a videogame console, opt for sports and dance games that get people moving!
Have a Healthy, Vegan Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be about turkey — it’s about gratitude for all we have and everyone we love. This year, keep your guests healthy and well-nourished with a feast that feeds their body without selling out your vegan soul.