If you’re newly vegetarian or will be hosting a vegetarian for Thanksgiving, you might be wondering how to pull off a festive meal which is generally focused on turkey and possibly ham. Well, I’ve got you covered.
Several years ago we went vegetarian for a year. We did end up making an exception for Thanksgiving day but I also experimented with a meatless version a couple of weeks beforehand. And you know what? It wasn’t that hard.
You see, I realized that it’s actually all the side dishes (and desserts!) which truly make a special meal. Sure, I really do like turkey but leaving it off the menu didn’t keep us from having a delicious meal.
If you are hosting a vegetarian or two for Thanksgiving this year, my suggestion is to go ahead and make your usual turkey and ham for everyone else. Don’t try to substitute a meatless main dish for the vegetarian(s) but just make sure you have plenty of hearty side dishes. Make both regular and vegetarian gravies – be sure to label them! – but otherwise everything else can be made to suit vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
Here is a sample menu:
- Turkey (and ham if desired)
- Mashed Potatoes
- baked dressing (use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth)
- gravy (vegetarian and regular)
- Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole with Streusel Topping
- Green Bean Casserole (my version)
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Layered Salad
- Squash Casserole
- deviled eggs (make sure you have plenty for the vegetarian as a protein source)
- homemade rolls
- pies, cookies, other yummy desserts
And it’s as simple as that. With all those delicious side dishes, the vegetarian won’t feel deprived at all. Of course, if your vegetarian guest offers to bring a non-meat main dish that’s great. Just be sure they know that all the side dishes will be vegetarian and that you’ll have vegetarian gravy, too. As an extra thoughtful touch, print a list of ingredients for each dish. Many non-vegetarians aren’t entirely clear about what is vegetarian and what isn’t. Your vegetarian guest will truly appreciate knowing that there’s no cream of chicken soup in the green bean casserole and that you didn’t add chicken broth to the dressing.
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