Vegan for the holidays? That’s amazing! While consuming a plant-based diet may seem challenging this time of year, hosting a full-fledged plant-based feast at your home can feel downright overwhelming. But there’s no reason to stress out about it. You can easily prepare a delicious, traditional-tasting Thanksgiving dinner (or any holiday meal) with a few simple tweaks to the classic, comforting recipes everyone knows and loves.
Whether you have guests that choose to forgo turkey this Turkey Day, or you yourself simply decided to try something new, a little planning and some emotional (and physical support) from open-minded loved ones will get you there! Stick to the following tips to experience your BEST Thanksgiving yet!
1. Stick to what you know
Instead of experimenting with new, unfamiliar recipes, serve dishes you’re already comfortable with. Decorating, cleaning and cooking can be pretty overwhelming. By avoiding recipes you haven’t quite mastered yet, you’ll spend less time perfecting the food and leave more time for the rest of your to-do list. Plus, you can pretty much put a seasonal touch on your favorite, go-to recipes to make them more festive.
For example, spice up a simple salad with wild rice, dried cranberries and a sage dressing. Add chunks of squash or pumpkin to your favorite vegetable or bean soup. Garnish roasted green beans with caramelized onions and sliced almonds. Keep things simple and you’ll likely be able to keep your stress in check.
2. Ask for help
There’s no shame in asking for assistance. Between coordinating guests, brainstorming a menu and even crossing off simpler tasks such as setting the table, you have a huge to-do list! Reaching out for support is key. First, create a list of things you need. Then, either ask others to volunteer or delegate tasks yourself to complete the items you’ve listed. If one of your guests follows a plant-based diet, or is a whiz in the kitchen, don’t hesitate to ask this person to show up early to help you cook (or to bring a dish of their own).
3. Embrace store-bought goods
This. Is. OK.
In a perfect world with unlimited time and resources, making your own cranberry sauce, stuffing and mushroom gravy would be a breeze. But in reality, our often fast-paced lives do not always allow for everything to be homemade from scratch. There’s no reason to feel guilty about opting for boxed options.
Try Daiya Dairy-Free Cheezy Mac, a jar of Appalachian Naturals Organic Cranberry Sauce, a gluten-free stuffing mix or a premade vegan roast. These options are not only delicious, but are a great way to save time.
4. Make your menu ahead of time
Planning ahead will ensure your holiday dinner goes off without a hitch. When we say plan ahead, we mean ahead. A few weeks before your plant-based party, dedicate quality time to brainstorm your menu.
This way, if you wish to serve something unique, you have time to find and test out recipes practical to your level of cooking. Referring back to tip No. 1, this ensures you won’t be cooking anything new for the first time on the day of your affair. Plus, it gives your helpers time to prepare as well.
Creating a plan will also guarantee you have all your ingredients on hand, eliminating the need for frantic grocery runs on the day of (good luck finding a store that’s open!).
5. Be open to creating new traditions
This is so, so important! Holiday traditions ignite feelings of comfort and warmth. Whether your family is used to carving the turkey, breaking the wishbone or adding cloves to the ham, it’s vital to cultivate a sense of tradition at the feast you host. Although your newfound compassionate lifestyle may not agree with the aforementioned rituals, this is the perfect opportunity to challenge yourself to create new ones. When creating new memories and traditions, the possibilities are endless.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Adopt a turkey from Farm Sanctuary: After you adopt, they’ll send you a beautiful thank you card. Use it as part of your centerpiece.
- DIY vegan-friendly wishbone: Turn to nature for a wishbone-shaped stick or small branch that can be split similar to a wishbone. Or, enjoy the vegan-friendly wishbone that comes with the ever-so-popular Tofurky roast.
- Say what you’re thankful for: Going around the table and individually expressing gratitude is a non-food-related tradition that everyone can morally agree feels good to do.
Starting to plan your holiday menu? Click here for a plethora of winning vegan Thanksgiving recipes!