No Turkeys Harmed: How to Survive Thanksgiving as a Vegan

How to Survive Thanksgiving as a Vegan

As Thanksgiving approaches, you might find yourself feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety, especially as a vegan. Navigating the holiday season can be tricky when trying your best to sustain an ethical and environmentally conscious lifestyle. It can be even more challenging if you’re the only vegan at the table. But don’t worry – this article is here to help ensure that you can enjoy and survive Thanksgiving!

In the following sections, you’ll find various tips and tricks to make your Thanksgiving experience smoother and more pleasant as a vegan. From discussing your food choices with your host to bringing delicious vegan dishes to share, we’ll cover everything you need to know to have a successful and memorable holiday.

So, let’s dive in and help you prepare for a festive and compassionate Thanksgiving you and your non-vegan loved ones can appreciate. With the right approach and a positive attitude, you’ll survive the holidays and celebrate them knowing that you’re making a positive impact.

Know What to Expect

Common Questions

Expect your non-vegan family and friends to ask you questions about your dietary choices. They might inquire about your protein sources, the reasons for your lifestyle, and how long you have been following a vegan diet. Prepare yourself to answer these questions confidently and calmly:

  • Protein sources: Lentils, tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, peas, quinoa, and many more.
  • Reasons: Ethical, environmental, or health concerns, or simply personal preference.
  • Duration: Share how long you’ve been vegan and any positive changes you’ve experienced.

These concise responses will help you address common questions while encouraging further conversation about veganism if your curious family members want to know more.

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Dealing with Judgment

At Thanksgiving, there might be some judgmental comments from relatives who don’t understand your vegan lifestyle. It’s essential to handle these situations gracefully to maintain the joy of the holiday while minimizing stress. Here are some tips to help you navigate these conversations:

  • Stay positive: Remember that you’re enjoying a compassionate meal and sharing your values by example.
  • Emphasize common ground: Find something relatable to your non-vegan relatives’ dietary choices, such as the enjoyment of eating delicious vegetables or cruelty-free desserts.
  • Avoid preaching: Thanksgiving isn’t the time to convert everyone to veganism. Keep the conversation light and respectful.
  • Focus on the meaning of the holiday: Remind yourself and others that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks and spending time with loved ones, not just about the food.

Knowing what to expect and preparing yourself for common questions and judgment allows you to navigate Thanksgiving gracefully and enjoyably as a vegan.

How to Survive Thanksgiving as a Vegan - Stuffed pumpkin

Offering to Bring a Dish

One way to ensure you have a delicious vegan option at your Thanksgiving dinner is to offer to bring a dish. This guarantees that there will be at least one plant-based dish on the table and helps out your host in the kitchen. Plus, it’s an opportunity to showcase how tasty and satisfying vegan food can be.

Start by asking your host if they would be open to sharing a plant-based dish. Chances are, they’ll welcome the extra help and appreciate the initiative. Discuss any dietary preferences or restrictions that others attending the dinner might have to create a dish everyone can enjoy.

When choosing a recipe, consider the flavors, textures, and colors that will complement the other dishes. You might want to bring a main course, such as a vegan pot pie or meatless roast, if you’re concerned, there won’t be enough plant-based entrée. Alternatively, consider bringing a unique and visually appealing side dish, like dairy-free mashed potatoes or a colorful salad with seasonal ingredients.

Once you’ve decided on the dish, search online for a reputable vegan recipe or consult your favorite plant-based cookbook. Gather your ingredients, follow the recipe, and ensure your dish looks and tastes great. Don’t forget to bring a serving utensil, and if the dish needs to be kept warm or cold, plan accordingly.

By offering to bring a dish, you’re taking control of your own Thanksgiving experience and providing an opportunity for others to sample some delicious plant-based food. Who knows, you might inspire someone else to explore vegan or vegetarian options further!

Vegan Thanksgiving Dishes

Main Courses

Considering the main course for your Vegan Thanksgiving feast? Tofurky is a popular choice, but don’t forget other options like Field Roast or innovative dishes using tofu. For example, you could try:

  • Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash
  • Pumpkin Curry
  • Tofu dishes, such as marinated tofu steaks or glazed tofu cutlets

The key is selecting a dish that tastes great and provides a satisfying and filling alternative to traditional meat-based dishes.

How to Survive Thanksgiving as a Vegan - Vegan roast


When it comes to side dishes, the sky is the limit for vegan options. From classic favorites like mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce to creative options that please all palates, there are countless ways to incorporate vegan-friendly dishes into your Thanksgiving spread. Some suggestions for your table include the following:

  • Vegan Roasted Sweet Basil Squash
  • Pumpkin and Parsnip Soup
  • Kale side dishes prepared with vegan butter, such as sautéed kale or kale salad
  • Veganized stuffing made with store-bought vegan bread or homemade vegan cornbread

Remember, many traditional sides can easily be made vegan by swapping out non-vegan ingredients for plant-based options, like using vegan butter instead of dairy butter in recipes.


A fantastic Vegan Thanksgiving meal isn’t complete without dessert. Thankfully, many vegan dessert options are as delicious as their non-vegan counterparts. Consider the following scrumptious treats:

  • Vegan pumpkin pie
  • Apple crisp or apple pie
  • Chocolate mousse made with avocado or silken tofu

By providing delectable vegan dessert options, you’ll ensure that everyone at the table can enjoy a sweet ending to their Thanksgiving feast without feeling left out.

As you plan and cook your Vegan Thanksgiving dishes, have fun experimenting with new recipes, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or suggestions from friends and family who are also partaking in the meal. Most importantly, remember to enjoy the process and be proud of the delicious, plant-based feast you’re creating!

Educating Yourself and Others

As a vegan, you’re already aware of the numerous benefits of veganism. However, Thanksgiving is an excellent opportunity to educate yourself further and inform others. Let’s explore some key areas to focus on.

You might wonder, how does veganism affect the environment? Start by learning about the environmental reasons behind the vegan lifestyle. Inform yourself of the facts and figures related to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and water and air pollution caused by animal agriculture.

Did you know that the production of beef, cheese, poultry farming, and milk raises significant concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, soil contamination, and deforestation? Use this knowledge to engage in meaningful conversations with your family and friends at the Thanksgiving table. Share about the impact of animal agriculture on the environment and the importance of sustainable food choices.

As you journey through different resources, consider watching documentaries that provide a comprehensive understanding of the subject. Films such as Cowspiracy, Earthlings, or The Game Changers offer remarkable insights into veganism’s ethical, environmental, and health aspects.

Actively participating in vegan activism is another way to educate others. Expressing your values creates a safe space for open conversations and encourages others to make informed choices. Nevertheless, always respect different opinions and avoid making exaggerated or false claims.

In conclusion, arm yourself with solid facts and maintain a friendly tone when discussing the benefits of the vegan lifestyle. By doing this, you’ll empower yourself and inspire meaningful change in the lives of others around you during Thanksgiving and beyond.

Turkey Welfare and Alternatives

The Reality of Turkey Farming

Did you know that factory farms, where most turkeys are raised, are notorious for their poor conditions and animal exploitation? Many turkeys live in overcrowded spaces without access to the outdoors, natural sunlight, or the ability to exhibit natural behaviors.

As a vegan, it’s essential to be aware of this reality and question the tradition of having turkey on Thanksgiving. Instead, you can choose cruelty-free alternatives and contribute to promoting turkey welfare.

How to Survive Thanksgiving as a Vegan - Vegan alternatives

Celebrating with a Plant-Based Roast

Wondering what delicious plant-based alternatives you can opt for this Thanksgiving? Fear not! There are a variety of vegan meat roasts available that will satisfy both your taste buds and ethical concerns. Here are a few options:

  • Gardein Plant-Based Turkey Roast: This turkey alternative is loaded with brown rice, cranberries, and kale. It comes with two vegan gravy packets for extra flavor.
  • Burmese Tofu: A legume product with a rich, savory flavor that can easily replace turkey. Simply chop your favorite veggies and simmer them in oil until they are soft and tender.
  • Field Roast: Quinoa-stuffed acorn squash, roasted butternut squash sliders, and pumpkin curry are just a few delicious dishes you can create with Field Roast products.

Incorporating vegan meat roasts into your Thanksgiving celebration supports turkey welfare and introduces a new tradition that respects animals and the environment. How about visiting a farm sanctuary to better understand the lives of rescued turkeys and connect with your ethical choices? It’s a wonderful way to celebrate a compassionate Thanksgiving while expanding your awareness of the importance of turkey welfare.


This Thanksgiving, be the change you want to see by advocating for a more compassionate approach to food. Compassion extends beyond the dinner table, as the turkey industry’s practices contribute to issues like animal heart failure and severe environmental damage. Showing your family and friends that it’s possible to enjoy the holiday season without causing harm to animals can introduce them to a new perspective.

Finally, always be prepared. Supply your own food, have options for take-out, share your favorite vegan recipes with others, and stay positive about your choices. After all, the holiday season is all about togetherness, love, and warmth. So, as you navigate this vegan journey, remember that sharing is caring – both for yourself and the planet.

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Gregory Knox
Gregory Knox

A certified nutritionist, father, and animal lover combines 13 years of veganism with his expertise in food and nutrition, offering readers a wealth of knowledge on plant-based diets and cooking.