The holidays can be filled with amazing food, family, and travel, but they’re also tough as a vegan. I’m not quite sure how a holiday meant to celebrate the harvest (and peace between European settlers and Native Americans) has become symbolized by a turkey, but it has. In yoga we talk about avidya, which means ignorance or blindness to the truth. Aprons or signs with a happy-go-lucky turkey emblazoned with words like “thankful” would be an example of avidya. Turkeys aren’t thankful or grateful to be the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving meal. In the spirit of a holiday centered around gratitude, let’s give everyone something to be thankful for: a gorgeous, plant-based meal that will leave even those with the heartiest appetites satisfied.
Below, I’ve rounded up our favorite vegan versions of the classics: cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole, and all the pies. All the pies. If you’re still in the mood for a holiday roast after all that, I’ve linked to my favorite turkey “substitutes”.
Our Favorite Thanks-Living Recipes
01 | Sun-dried Tomato and Veggie Quiche. Shameless plug, but we’re not sorry. This quiche is a crowd pleaser, and perfect if you need to make it ahead, stuff it in a cooler, and hit the road.
02 | Cornbread Dressing. A classic Southern recipe, my Georgia grandmother made the most delicious version every year. This one is easily made vegan with a little veggie broth, almond milk, and applesauce for eggs in the cornbread recipe. Yum.
03 | Sweet Potato Bisque. Shameless plug #2, but we really just want what’s best for y’all. And what’s best for y’all is making a big vat of this and servin’ it up at the Thanksgiving table. Antioxidants, anyone?
04 | Sweet Potato Casserole. Another Southern classic. In our family, we forgo the marshmallow topping for this crunchy, pecan-and-brown-sugar deliciousness. It doesn’t disappoint.
05 | Vegan & GF Green Bean Casserole . Not going to lie-never really saw the appeal of green bean casserole, but people go crazy over it and this recipe may change my mind.
06 | Baked Pumpkin Mac & Cheese. If your mouth doesn’t water at this picture something is wrong with you.
07 | Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes. I think we’re getting enough simple carbohydrates overall in this meal, so let’s just chill out and pretend these are potatoes, ok? Especially when they’re served with…
…vegan gravy. Done.
08 | Crockpot 3-Ingredient Cranberry Sauce. Secret confession: I love cranberry sauce from the can. It’s ridiculously delicious, but I realize it’s chock-full of corn syrup and artificial coloring and blah blah blah. This (Crockpot!) recipe seems like it’ll come close to measuring up, minus all of the radioactive ingredients.
09 | Vegan Pumpkin Pie Cups. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of pumpkin pie (it doesn’t hold a candle to pecan) but I’m a fan of these cute little pumpkin pie cups that I could just pop whenever I have a sweets craving.
10 | Vegan Pecan Pie. We always, always, always serve pecan pie at Thankgiving. It’s hard to measure up to my grandmother’s recipe (see Cornbread Dressing above), but this one comes close. It even got the parental seal of approval at last year’s holiday table.
11 | Salted Caramel Apple Pie. Salted. Caramel. Apple. Pie. What more do I need to say?
Sides (and pie!) have always been my favorite part of the meal, but there are so many amazing turkey substitutes these days. I had my doubts (and went years eating only the vegan sides I’d make and bring myself), but boy was I wrong. So wrong. They’re good y’all. They’re spectacular.
My #1, most favorite, literally look-forward-to-it-all-year is Gardein’s Holiday Roast. I can’t even, you guys. It’s that good. It’s even better the next day between a few slices of whole-wheat bread with a little Veganaise.
I’m the first to admit I was very suspicious of Tofurky. Something about the name just made me feel like I would become a 70’s hippie eating lentil loaf if I tried it. (Plus, Gardein’s roast is so good I was afraid to stray. This shiz ain’t cheap.) Again, I was wrong. So wrong. A vegetarian friend brought this to a holiday potluck, where I proceeded to eat about half. It doesn’t beat my Gardein, but it’s still amazing. Highly recommend. Need more? Check out this link for the 8 Best Vegetarian Turkey Substitutes .
Want to do more? Adopt a Turkey through Farm Sanctuary this ThanksLiving. $35 sponsors a rescued turkey at one of their three sanctuaries.
Doing good for animals + an amazing meal? Now there’s something to be grateful for.