Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Very Vegan Thanksgiving!

With Thanksgiving only a day away, I'm sure many of you are already preparing your thanksgiving meals, or gearing up for the long drive to see friends and family! Tomorrow's holiday is such a heart-warming and fun holiday, and worrying about what you can and can't eat should be one of the last things on your mind. However, as vegans or vegetarians, many of us are used to thinking in advance about certain situations and how we will handle them. Thanksgiving is not only a holiday that is focused around eating, it is also a holiday that brings family together........and some family may not be 100% understanding about your awesome vegan ways. I have a few tips on how to deal with certain situations that could possibly (but hopefully won't) arise on Un-Turkey day, and I also have some of my favorite thanksgiving recipes from all over the interwebs. I hope these tips are helpful!

How to have a Happy & Harmonious Vegan Thanksgiving:
1) Give 'Em a Call: If you are heading over to a family or friend's home for Thanksgiving, get in touch with them a few days before the big day to have quick chat. The last thing you want to do is show up on the day of and surprise them with your vegan questions and freak them out while they're already stressing about the meal. You could always start off by saying something like: "I am so looking forward to seeing you this year, it's been so long and I can't wait! I don't know if I told you this last time I saw you, but I'm actually vegan!" You should definitely go on to explain exactly what this means since many people aren't sure what the difference between vegetarian and vegan is. Make sure you remember to mention that you don't eat anything with chicken or beef stock, butter, milk, any other dairy, or eggs.
2) Offer to Bring a Dish: I think that as a guest on thanksgiving you should always call the host to see if they need anything, BUT especially if you are vegan and asking about what vegan offerings they have. If you call the host in advance and let them know about your vegan diet, you should ALWAYS offer to make at least one entree/side-dish that is vegan and bring it over. This will remove some stress from your and from the host as you know there will be something for you to eat, and the host does not have to worry about whether or not you will be starving on Thanksgiving.
3) Try to Host Thanksgiving: It may be too late for this year, but it's always fun to host Thanksgiving, and that way it will be 100% vegan! I have been to quite a few 100% vegan thanksgivings in my day, and let me just say that both the omnivores and the vegans were very full and very happy.
4) Do NOT Start Preaching about Veganism: Yes, yes, I know that veganism is a great thing and that you think everyone would be better off vegan, and I agree; but this special family gathering is not the day to try to spread the gospel of veganism. Ofcourse, if anyone asks about veganism, you should definitely explain it to them, and maybe mention a couple of the benefits you have experienced as a result of going vegan, but be sure not to get too preachy.
5) Do NOT React badly to Criticism: Some family members or friends may not be very receptive to the idea of veganism, and may ask you critical questions. Don't let this bother you. Remind yourself that this is a good opportunity to set the record straigh AND maintain harmony by not reacting badly to their questions. You should definitely address whatever their critique/concern is, and also throw in a couple of the great changes that you have experienced since going vegan. For me I always mention that I used to have terrible skin and horrible stomach problems, and now my skin is completely clear and my stomach problems are not nearly as horrendous as they used to be.
6) They just won't stop with the jabs: If a select few people just won't stop asking about your being vegan, or criticising it even after you have followed tip #5 I would suggest doing the following. Say that you would love to talk more about this, and hear all of their criticisms and respond to them, but Thanksgiving may not be the place to have such a heated conversation; exchange emails or phone numbers (if you don't already have them) and insist that they should definitely email you all of their concerns, questions, and critiques so that you are able to respond to all of them without dragging down everyone around you on this special day
7) Make an AWESOME Vegan Dessert: I know that making a vegan entree and side-dish is more of a necessity, but if you can, you should definitely try out making an awesome vegan dessert. I aways find that people are blown away by how delicious vegan desserts can be, and that they don't even miss any of the animal products when they are eating them. You might even have a few people asking you about becoming vegetarian or vegan after trying your bomb vegan treats!

Vegan Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup: 
Now let me preface this list with the fact that there are many, many amazing vegan holiday recipes online, and I definitely do not claim that these are all of them. However, the recipes I list here I have made at least once (and many of them more than once) and I can 100% vouch for their delicious and beautiful results!
- Mini Vegan Curry Pies
- Black Rice & Phyllo Tartlets
- "Cheesey" Spinach Dip
- Roasted Cauliflower and Pumpkin Swirl Dip
- White & Green Beans

Soup & salad: 
- Holiday Salad with the most delicious orange vinaigrette I have ever tried!
Creole Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

Main Dish:
- Festive Chickpea Tart: I love this recipe, and it is a very unique main dish idea.
- My very own Sausage & Spinach Quiche
- Maple Glazed Tempeh, Squash, and Brussel Sprouts: This is also a pretty different approach to a main dish, but I love the trio of Tempeh, Squash, and Brussel Sprouts.
- Hearty Vegan Pot Pie: This one is another one that the omnivores loved!
- Thanksgiving Meatless Loaf: This is perfect if you want to do the vegan version of a classic. I have made this Meatless Meatloaf many times, and often crave it even when it's not the holidays. This is definitely an ALL TIME FAVORITE! Omnivores also seem to really dig this dish.

Sides & Sauces:
Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, and Bread Stuffing with Apples: This is a really different twist on stuffing and I LOVE it
Crockpot Vegan Stuffing: This is a perfect vegan version of the classic Thanksgiving stuffing.
- Awesome Mashed Potatoes: These have an added protein bonus!
- Maple Cornmeal Biscuits:  I am actually addicted to these....
- Delicious Brown Gravy

Sweet Endings: 
- Pumpkin Bread : I always like to make a glaze to pour over this to make it more fun for a group of people
- Fall Harvest Fruit Crumble:  This is also Gluten Free and easy to make in advance.
- My Triple Layer Pumpkin Mousse Brownies
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie : And trust don't miss the gluten one bit.
- Pecan Pie
- Chocolate a l'Orange Mousse Pie: This is just rich enough without being overwhelming, and it's healthy!
- Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

I hope you all have an amazing Thanksgiving holiday!
.........Now stop reading this and get to cooking ;)

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