Vegan Thanksgiving

by Sherri Koehler on November 27, 2010

When you’re vegan complete strangers often feel the need to interrogate you about what you eat and how you could possibly celebrate holidays without animal products. I’ve been asked so many times how I could possibly get enough calcium, protein, B12, etc. that I’ve honestly lost track of the conversations. Likewise, just about every big holiday comes with the shocked question, “But how can you have a proper {insert name of holiday} without {insert animal product}?!”

Thanksgiving is a biggie because traditionally the meal all revolves around a gigantic roast turkey. Growing up we always had a turkey for Thanksgiving, filled with bread dressing, and accompanied by mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, celery stuffed with cheese, rolls, olives, cranberry sauce (quite usually the canned, jelly kind), a carrot/orange Jello salad, and always lots of pie for dessert. In my mid-20s I hosted this extensive meal for several years, having many guests over. When I became vegan I saw no reason that this holiday should be anything less than a feast that showcased the harvest.

The big one I’m asked about all the time is the turkey. How could we possibly replace the turkey? The answer is incredibly obvious to me; we serve a very large roast winter squash filled with bread dressing. It makes a great presentation piece and is delicious! I usually use a Hubbard style since these tend to be rather large as well as a very nice texture and taste.

Blue Ballet Hubbard Squash

The dressing is one of my favorite parts of the meal and I found it very easy to make a vegan one. I use things like Field Roast sausage (apple/sage), celery, onion, fresh parsley, chopped apple, and nuts along with artisan bread. This year I’ve fallen in love with freshly roasted chestnuts and they went into the dressing.

Ready to peel!

Christie has taken upon herself to perfect mashed potatoes. She makes a lemon and cashew creme sauce which is then mixed into the hand-mashed, Russet potatoes. We serve my miso shallot gravy along with the potatoes and it is divine!

I’ve also played around with making a green bean casserole, but this honestly was never a big hit for me as it often involved cream of mushroom soup. When I’ve tired it I’ve used some potato leek soup, but still wasn’t that impressed. This year a friend brought green beans cooked with pearl onions & almonds and I enjoyed this a lot more. Other friends brought over some fried and braised Brussels sprouts and I loved those!

Cheese spread, usually stuffed into celery, was always a part of big holiday meals in my family. I loved this stuff as a kid, particularly the port wine style. I’ve enjoyed the vegan ones people have brought over in the past and this year I tried my hand at making my own. They turned out great, so I will be coming up with recipes for these.

Although I don’t hate the jellied cranberry sauce in a can, it isn’t my favorite. For Christie the canned stuff is an integral part of her Thanksgiving experience, so we have it in addition to a freshly made cranberry relish.

This year we served a new Celebration Roast from Field Roast. A cranberry hazelnut roast wrapped in puff pastry (en croute)! It was beautiful and incredibly tasty. We look forward to serving one for the open house & games day we’ll be hosting on Christmas Day.

In addition to all that amazing food, we also include the delicious pumpkin pies and squishy yeast rolls from Sweetpea Baking Company. We’ve not figured out a great pumpkin pie ourselves and the ones made by the bakery are fantastic. The rolls cannot be beat and I swear I manage to eat a half dozen of them every Thanksgiving!

Another Squash Picture - So Lovely

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