Vegetarian Thanksgiving: How to Create a Meat Free Holiday Meal

Here at Every Kid Can Cook, we love Thanksgiving. Being that cooking is one of our biggest passions, this probably doesn’t come as a surprise! In most families, turkey is the star of the meal. But what about those of us that follow a vegetarian diet or are just simply trying to cut back on our meat consumption? Not to worry! We’ve got you covered with these vegetarian friendly tips. Even if you’re big on turkey, maybe someone in your family isn’t, so we still encourage you to consider these ideas:


1) The big question that comes with any meat free holiday dish, is “how”? Think about it, besides just the turkey, many of our favorite side dishes incorporate meat one way or another. If you’re a fan of bacon sprinkled Brussels sprouts, consider using a bacon alternative this year, like vegan “bacon” or toasted walnuts. A lot of the time, bacon crumbles are used for added crunch and salty flavor, which can easily be substituted with either of our veg-friendly suggestions!


The other obstacle is everyones favorite: stuffing! Lots of stuffing recipes call for sausage or another type of meat, but it’s entirely possible to skip this ingredient and still end up with a deliciously flavorful dish that everyone will come back for more of. If you’re really craving that sausage flavor (or want to appease those that do), vegan sausage substitutes might do the trick. Because it’s used as just one ingredient blended into lots of others, your meat loving guests won’t even taste the difference! Otherwise, you can go completely sans sausage, with yummy recipes like this one. The savory ingredients in this recipe, like garlic, broth, and sage make up for the missing sausage (which is typically responsible for adding this flavor profile).


As you can see, there are tons of work-arounds for those family favorite dishes that include meat. But the list doesn’t end here! Make sure to check out some of these other fantastic, meat-free side dishes. Looking for a main dish that isn’t turkey? Try the “No-Turkey Turkey”Vegan “Meatloaf” , or Butternut Squash Vegducken!


2) Speak up! Talk to your host about your dietary preferences, but don’t expect them to completely ban meat from the celebration. It’s not realistic for everyone in attendance to conform to one persons requests. However, ideally, they will offer to keep meat out of a few dishes so that you have plenty to choose from. Another option is to offer to bring a few vegetarian dishes to share. Who knows… even the non-vegetarian guests might enjoy your meatless options!


On the other hand, if it’s you or your family who’s hosting and preparing the meal, make sure to give guests a heads up that many of the offerings will be free of meat. Most of the time, this won’t be an issue amongst guests, but you might have a few that appreciate the advanced notice. Not everyone is accustomed to plant based eating, but maybe this will be your chance to really wow them! Don’t be offended if a guest offers to bring his/her own meat-containing side to share (you never know… sausage stuffing might be someone’s favorite part of Thanksgiving!). Either way, it’s best to be flexible!


3) You can still build a balanced meal! Just because you’re excluding meat from your meal doesn’t mean you can’t still be totally satisfied. A well rounded, balanced plate is one that includes a variety of foods from different food groups: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein. Meat is a popular protein choice, but it’s far from the only one! You can add protein to you vegetarian holiday meal in lots of different tasty ways.



4) Last, but certainly not least, focus on the company! While holiday meals are certainly enjoyable, spending quality time with those you love is even better. Whether you’re new to this whole meat-free thing or you’re a seasoned pro, there’s no need to fret. Planning ahead and remembering what’s truly important this holiday season is key to your success! Speaking of family time, how about asking someone to help you with cooking your favorite vegetarian dish? We can’t think of anywhere else we would rather bond with loved ones than in the kitchen.


Happy Holiday’s from everyone here at Every Kid Can Cook! Let’s eat!