How to Have a Happy, Healthy, VEGAN Thanksgiving!

Tips for surviving a non-vegan thanksgiving, and a round-up of impressive, healthy, totally vegan thanksgiving inspired recipes for your holiday table!

Happy November, friends! We all know that here in the US at least, November is pretty synonymous with thanksgiving. While I don’t appreciate this holiday for the “historical” component or specifically targeting and killing thousands of beautiful birds, I can definitely appreciate gathering with loved ones and enjoying an incredible meal. Specifically, a meal that is NOT centered around a dead bird. If that’s what you’re looking for, I’ve got quite the round-up of drool worthy, vegan thanksgiving recipes on the way! But first, lets talk a few tips for surviving a non-vegan thanksgiving gathering.

While I know a lot of you are blessed with huge groups of vegan friends within driving distance and will be having awesome, totally vegan celebrations (I’m jealous!), the majority of us will be gathering with family and friends who don’t share our lifestyle. Which is fine! Everybody’s on their own journey. But thanksgiving is a great time to spread the vegan message in a positive, joyful way, and through food, which is something we can all come together and enjoy.

Here are some of my tips for surviving a non-vegan thanksgiving!

  • Give your family a heads up.
    • This applies mostly to new vegans. If it’s your first year as a vegan at thanksgiving, definitely put your patient pants on if you’re heading to a non-vegan celebration. Prepare yourself for all of the typical questions (where do you get your PROTEIN THO!?), and prepare to answer them confidently, calmly, and positively. Many people are poke fun at this lifestyle because deep down they’re curious, and maybe want to make some changes in their own lives but are intimidated or unsure how to begin. You may be the only vegan influence in their life, so make sure you’re patient and nonjudgmental, and explain exactly why you think being vegan is such an amazing choice. Your positivity will help spread the message in a wonderful way!
    • If you’ve been vegan for awhile, just make sure to still let your family/friends know that you won’t be eating any of the animal products. Sounds weird, but some people get offended especially when it comes to treasured traditional family recipes, like your grandma’s turkey or whatever. Explain that while you won’t be partaking in eating those things, you can’t wait to spend time together as a family. Which is ultimately what the holiday should be about!
  • Bring a dish or two, or help cook the day of!
    • This one is super important. Often times, family members are overwhelmed at the idea of hosting an entire family for thanksgiving, let alone figuring out how to accommodate a vegan. We know it’s really not that complicated, but for those who are not familiar with veg eating, it can be confusing or intimidating! Make sure you reach out ahead of time and let the host/hostess know that you’re definitely willing to bring a dish or two, or that you will help them cook one the day of, if they’d like. Some people are hesitant to do this, but more often than not the host/hostess is typically relieved that they aren’t left on their own to figure out what to make for you to eat. Plus, cooking together is such a fun bonding experience, and it can show people how NOT hard vegan eating is!
  • Stand your ground and speak with compassion, positivity, and understanding.
    • I mentioned this a little bit already, but go into any and all situations with non-vegans with an attitude of compassion. We’re all on our own journey, and we’ve all been in a place where we once said we “could never go vegan,” myself included! Speak your truth, and nobody can deny your experience. If people ask questions, answer them! If they poke fun, shake it off and don’t let it get to you. Like I said before – you may be the only vegan influence in somebody’s life, so I believe it’s important to leave a positive impact by being supportive and understanding if they seem genuinely curious. Conversations like these are a great opportunity to direct them to resources for them to learn more about this lifestyle. Oh and PS, sitting at the table while they’re eating animals is usually NOT the time to have a conversation about veganism, so don’t feel bad about addressing somebody’s questions/jokes with a “we can definitely chat about that after dinner, if you’re interested!”

Do you guys have other experiences/tips/suggestions for non-vegan gatherings? I’d love to hear them!

I am SO happy to say that my husband (yes, he’s vegan, too!) and I will be be hosting my side of the family at our new home this year, for a TOTALLY VEGAN THANKSGIVING! Sorry for shouting, but I’m just a teeny bit excited. Okay, I’m practically exploding with excitement. Here’s what I plan on making! No specific recipes for the savory recipes, as I’ll just test them out in the coming weeks and tweak as needed the day of. I will be posting all three desserts I mention, soon! I have to say, I’m also considering adding several of the linked recipes from the fab bloggers below to my menu, because some of them look TOO good not to try!

  • Baked sweet potatoes
  • Roasted brussel sprouts, onions, some other veggies
  • Mashed potatoes with cashew sour cream – I’m not a huge fan of potatoes that aren’t the sweet kind, but my family loves mashed potatoes! And who can say no to creamy, dreamy, rich cashew sour cream?!
  • Mac and cheese – again, not one of my go to preferences, but I’ll make a vegan version for my family
  • Cranberry relish – my mom and I found a great vegan recipe a couple years ago that’s just cranberries, apples, orange juice, and stevia, blitzed in the food processor until it’s a bit chunky. So good, I love it as a fun twist on traditional cranberry sauce!
  • Lentil “stuffing” – lentils, mushrooms, onions, with herbs to flavor it like a traditional stuffing
  • Chocolate pie (recipe coming soon!)
  • Caramel apple pie (recipe coming soon!)
  • Pumpkin spice cheesecake (recipe coming soon!)
  • Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting (recipe coming soon!)

If you’re looking for a dish or two to add to your menu or take to a non-vegan gathering (or heck, use them all for a plant powered feast!), these are sure to impress.

Arugula Pecan Vegan Cheesy Spread – this looks like the perfect snack to go with veggies or vegan crackers while you’re cooking before the big meal!

Cranberry Pecan Brussels Sprout Salad – I’m obsessed with brussels, and I love the idea of throwing some cranberries in there, too!

Roasted Butternut Squash & Corn Soup with Cilantro Cashew Cream – okay so the butternut squash and corn soup sounds amazing by itself, but throw in cilantro cashew cream and I’m SOLD.

Orange Cranberry Sauce – love the combination of orange and cranberry! Sauces like this are so perfect with the other savory dishes as a sweet, tart contrast.

Skinny Cornbread – a simple recipe made in just 30 minutes! I love cornbread, and this one is made with just a few healthy ingredients.

Smoky Maple Roasted Carrots – I discovered the magic that is roasted carrots this past summer, they get sooo amazingly tender and sweet! The combo of sweet and smoky here sounds incredible.

Fluffy Buttermilk Vegan Mashed Potatoes – a classic that’ll impress vegans and non-vegans alike!

Vegan Cauliflower Lentil Loaf – who needs turkey (NOBODY, just saying) when you can have this show stopper as the main of your meal?! I’m definitely going to try this one and may have it on the day we host my family, because lentils are my legume love language. Sorry not sorry for that incredible alliteration.

Shepherdless Pie – while there are quite a few ingredients here, they’re all healthy, and I love that it packs all the traditional thanksgiving flavors/textures in one dish! This one looks seriously impressive. I’d love to try it with sweet potatoes!

So, go forth and have the ultimate happy, healthy, cruelty free, vegan thanksgiving, my beautiful butterflies! Wishing you all an upcoming holiday season full of health, happiness, and love. 🙂