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How to Keep Vegans in Your Family Happy at Thanksgiving

When it’s your turn to host Thanksgiving, and you have a houseful of relatives, it’s important to make sure there is something for everyone to eat. Nobody wants to go hungry, especially on the biggest feasting day of the year! Feeding your picky children might be a daily challenge, but with a large amount of guests, you may have bigger concerns. Many individuals do not eat gluten or meat, either as a personal choice or due to a medical condition. These two dietary constraints are often fairly easy to work around. However, feeding your vegan family members might not be as straight forward.

What? You mean to tell me there are people out there who don’t want to chow down on juicy turkey, gravy, and stuffing on Thanksgiving? Well if you’re having Anne Hathaway, Paul McCartney, or Weird Al Yankovic over for Thanksgiving Day dinner, they are all vegans. And so are millions of others including—most likely—several members of your family. And no, vegans do not eat chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, or even cheese, though they are often asked. But keeping a vegan happy on Thanksgiving is not difficult. Plenty of traditional dishes are (almost) vegan anyway, and the oven is on for baking special treats.

  1. Vegan vs. vegetarian: Before you start cooking, ask your guests if they are strictly vegan. Vegetarians eat butter, cheese, and other dairy products while vegans do not. This means vegetarians will not mind parmesan in the salad, butter in the mashed potatoes, and whipped cream on the pumpkin pie. 
  2. Tofu turkey: In October many health food stores, and even regular grocery stores, stock up on vegan turkey products. This tofu “turkey” is made from wheat protein and organic tofu and stuffed with mushrooms, herbs, and wild rice. Tofu turkey is 100 percent vegan. If you want to make your own dish, search the Internet for a baked tofu recipe. Marinate the tofu for a few hours in soy sauce and seasonings, then pop it in the oven 30 minutes before the turkey is done. Your vegans will be grateful. If tofu is not your thing, you can find plenty of recipes for nut roasts, lentil bakes, and veggie pot pies online. 
  3. Set some aside: No matter how much everyone loves mashed potatoes dripping with butter, vegans are not smitten. Before you mash the potatoes set some aside for your vegan guests. Substitute olive oil for butter and unsweetened soy milk for regular milk. 
  4. Soup, salad, and sides: There are thousands of recipes for veggie soups, salads, and side dishes which even the most dedicated carnivores can enjoy alongside your vegan friends and family. 
  5. Don’t forget dessert: Consider baking pies, cookies, and cakes with unrefined coconut oil or vegan margarine instead of butter. Chances are, your meat-eating friends won’t notice the difference and your vegan friends will be smiling with delicious crumbs on their lips.

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