If, like me, you have family members who are vegan, you may be wondering what to make for Thanksgiving dinner. Of course, you want to accommodate everyone’s needs, which can be tough at times, but you don’t necessarily have to give up bringing your signature dishes. With a few simple swaps, you can make your favorite recipes vegan for Thanksgiving.
1. Use plant-based butter in place of regular butter.
I don’t know about you, but I just can’t have mashed potatoes without butter. One of my favorite Scottish dishes to make for the holidays, Rumbledethumps, uses plenty of butter. I wanted to be sure that my loved ones could enjoy this tasty dish with me, so I simply swapped the butter for plant-based butter and, trust me, you wouldn’t know the difference. I use Country Crock Plant Butter, but there are other brands to try depending on where you shop.
2. Use dairy-free cheese instead of regular cheese.
The delicious Rumbledethumps mentioned above are topped with shredded cheddar, which clearly wouldn’t fly with my vegan folks. Luckily, you can find dairy-free cheese in many grocery stores. It’s often available shredded or sliced, making it easy to incorporate into traditional recipes. Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds is the one I most often find in my local stores, but there are plenty of other great brands out there.
3. Canned coconut milk can fill in for whole milk or heavy cream.
You can just use nut milk like almond milk or cashew milk in many recipes that call for dairy milk. However, some recipes truly need a thicker, creamier liquid like whole milk or heavy cream. You can still enjoy creamy mashed potatoes by substituting dairy milk with canned coconut milk. Coconut milk can be quite thick, but you could always use half coconut milk and half nut milk.
4. Sweeten recipes with maple syrup rather than honey.
Of course, you could always just use sugar, but I like to swap ingredients that are as similar as possible. Maple syrup is similar in texture to honey, although a little thinner. It also adds such a lovely flavor for the holidays! I don’t have a particular brand of maple syrup that I use, but whenever I visit Vermont, I always grab a jug to take home, and it lasts quite a while.
5. Use seltzer in place of eggs for baked goods.
I’ll admit, this tip sounded absolutely crazy to me when I first heard it. However, the recipes I’ve used it for have actually turned out just fine. They may not be as fluffy as those made with eggs, or maybe it’s just my lack of baking skills, but everything tasted great. You can always experiment with flavored seltzer as well. Cranberry seltzer would be great for holiday baked goods! All you need is 1/4 cup of seltzer for each large egg called for in a recipe. Unlike some other vegan swaps for eggs, you can take your leftover seltzer and make yourself a spritzer. Try doing that with aquafaba! 😉
A Few More Vegan Thanksgiving Tips
Here are just a couple more tips for making your Thanksgiving dinner vegan-friendly:
- While there are some meat substitutes that can replace the traditional Thanksgiving turkey, not all people following a vegan diet enjoy them. Before you shell out your hard-earned dough on a tofurky to show your vegan loved ones you care, ask if they enjoy that type of food. Those who don’t care for meat substitutes are often perfectly content with sampling all the plant-based side dishes on Thanksgiving.
- Don’t feel pressured to cook everything from scratch. You can find prepared foods that are vegan-friendly to help cut down on some of the cooking. Some easy options are steam-in-the-bag vegetables or frozen entrees and sides by Amy’s or Sweet Earth. These brands provide vegan and vegetarian products, so just double-check that it is labeled as vegan or read the ingredients to ensure there is no butter, milk, eggs, or cheese.
- You don’t have to make your Thanksgiving dinner 100% vegan. Just be sure that everyone has options that work for them and either separate or label the vegan-friendly foods, so there’s no confusion.
The most important thing to remember when preparing for Thanksgiving is that it is a time to spend with those you love. Despite the differences in your dietary preferences and beliefs, all it takes are a few small changes for everyone to be able to enjoy the feast together.
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