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Thanksgiving is less than one week away!!!!!!!!!!!

Why so many exclamation points? Because it’s my very favorite holiday!

Thanksgiving, to me, means:

  • Asheville, North Carolina’s chilly mountain air
  • fall leaves crunching underfoot
  • spending time with my cousins and family at my grandparents’ home
  • visiting the Grove Park Inn with its gingerbread houses and giant fireplaces
  • giving thanks for the many wonderful blessings in my life
  • and of course, stuffing myself with rich, delicious food ’til I feel like I’m going to burst.

None of this changed three years ago when I went vegan.

I still get to enjoy all of the above, but it’s even better, because I don’t feel guilty about eating turkey!

Want the low down on how to do Thanksgiving vegan style?

Vegan Thanksgiving FAQs, coming right up!

  • How do I deal with my family? I’m the only vegan/vegetarian. They’re going to give me a hard time!

Every family is different, but I had a great experience with mine. It was actually Thanksgiving when my sisters and I announced to the extended family that we were now vegetarian.

Our grandmother was very sweet and made lots of vegetarian sides that we could eat.

There were definitely some jokes made at our expense by certain wise-cracking uncles, but overall, it wasn’t bad, and we enjoyed Thanksgiving thoroughly. It certainly helped to have fellow vegetarians there.

If you’re the only vegetarian or vegan at your family’s Thanksgiving celebration though, fear not! There are several ways to make it easier.

Offer to bring a dish or two so that whoever’s hosting doesn’t have the added stress of figuring out what to make (even though making veg dishes is way easy, at this time of year, it’s best to reduce stress wherever possible!). Your family will appreciate the gesture, and everyone will be impressed by how tasty your food is!

Click here for lots of amazing Thanksgiving recipe ideas, from easy sides to Pumpkin Cookie Dough-Studded Caramel Cheesecake (um, yes please!), from VegNews Magazine.

Don’t cook? Grocery stores, especially natural-leaning ones like Whole Foods and Earthfare, have a wide variety of ready-made vegan food all the time. Pick up a few, put them in your dishes, and bring ’em over. We won’t tell!

If family members won’t leave you alone about why you’re leaving turkey off  your plate this year, tell them why you chose to go veg; avoid trying to tell them why they should.

Calmly share that, “For me, eating vegan/vegetarian rings true with my values of compassion,” or “For me, the health benefits were convincing,” or whatever your reason for going veg is. People can’t argue with your feelings because they’re yours and are valid.

Plus, you never know when what you’re sharing about why you chose to be veg will plant a seed of curiosity or compassion!

Questions (or even jokes) at Thanksgiving are great opportunities to kindly share your values with the people you love.

  • What do I eat instead of turkey?

There are lots of options for a “main course,” but everyone knows Thanksgiving is all about the sides!

Switch out some of the usual ingredients for vegan ones easily. You’ll sacrifice none of the flavor, but make the dish healthier and more animal-friendly at the same time!

– Butter: Earth Balance Buttery Spread (regular or soy free)

– Milk: Almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk…there are tons of options!

– Eggs: Egg replacer powder, bananas, flax seeds, applesauce, and more. Here’s a great guide to help you choose which ones is best for what you’re making.

– Chicken Broth: Veggie broth or “No Chicken Broth”

For a main dish, there’s the famous (infamous?) Tofurky, which some people love and some people hate. (I happen to like it.)

But you’re not limited to faux turkey as a main. As vegan extraordinaire Colleen Patrick-Goudreau shares in her Thanksgiving video, stuffed dishes, like stuffed acorn squash, or individual dishes, like little ramekins of pot-pie, make a beautiful focal point on a plate.

Watch Colleen’s informative video here for more ideas!

  • Didn’t the pilgrims eat butter and milk?

I’m not sure how frequently-asked this one is, but I got it, so I’ll try to answer it! From what I could find, the pilgrims didn’t have dairy at the first Thanksgiving. They did have meat, meat, and more meat though. Thank goodness for evolving traditions!

But, the pilgrim’s meat (and dairy if they had had it) is very different from today’s.

Their meat was hunted in the wild; ours comes from factory farms, where animals are abused as part of the system.

In fact, a new investigation of Butterball’s operations (warning: link is graphic) found egregious abuse at a turkey facility AGAIN (last year five Butterball workers were charged with animal cruelty).

Also, just because the pilgrims ate meat doesn’t mean we have to. I’d argue that leaving meat off our plates is more in line with giving thanks for the blessings of life.

Celebrating life makes more sense without a dead bird on the table to me!

If you have other vegan Thanksgiving questions, please post them in the comments below! I’d be happy to try and answer them.

I wish you and your family a meaningful and delicious Thanksgiving!

To giving turkeys something to be thankful for!

-Sarah

P.S. Have you ever met a turkey? I haven’t either, but I’d love to! Look at this cutie, named Antoinette, at Farm Sanctuary‘s NY shelter. Did you know wild turkeys can fly 55 mph, form strong social bonds that last a lifetime, and can recognize each other by their voices? Pretty amazing animals!

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