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Vegan Alternatives to Famous Thanksgiving Dishes

vegan marshmallow sweet potato casserole with aqaufaba

No one likes to hear the words “dietary restrictions” around the time of a holiday that’s literally centered on food, but when setting the table for a mixed crowd, it can be helpful to whip up options that everyone can enjoy. Thanksgiving has never been the vegan-friendliest celebration–the pilgrims were not carving up a tofurkey, for instance–but a little bit of ingenuity can not only make every mouth happy at dinner but also lighten up the meal to leave plenty of room for seconds or dessert (and then seconds of dessert).

If you’ve got a fully vegan crew, then consider your menu planned. If you’re hosting both vegan and non-vegan guests, consider offering some of these plant-based versions of classic Thanksgiving dishes side-by-side. If you’re simply interested in cutting back on dairy, eggs, and meat to make dinner a healthier or more earth-conscious affair, you probably don’t even need to say the word “vegan” when you put these dishes out to share–they’re so good, they don’t need any introduction.

Pumpkin Protein Platter

vegan thanksgiving protein platter with pumpkin and quinoa

Healthy Happy Life

This recipe is a bit labor-intensive, but hey, so is turkey–all that defrosting and brining and roasting and basting and resting and carving, who wants to go through that trouble? Instead, take the time, energy, and enthusiasm you normally reserve for the bird into mixing up this protein platter of pumpkin-crusted tempeh, quinoa, roasted chestnuts, and roasted pumpkin for a seasonal sensation that will quickly have you thinking, “Turkey? What turkey?” (Bonus: totally guilt-free leftovers for sandwiches the next day.) Get the recipe.

Green Beans with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

vegan green bean casserole with mushrooms

Dora Daily

This garlicky-good side dish will make everybody forget the old-fashioned limp green beans with slivered almonds that passes as a “healthy” side at these get-togethers. A creamy mushroom sauce made from non-dairy milk, non-dairy butter, and a tiny bit of flour subs in for a heavy bechamel without sacrificing any of the flavor, and the beans stay crisp enough to remind you that yes, you are in fact eating real vegetables. Get the recipe.

No-Cream Creamed Spinach

vegan creamed spinach

Eat Drink Paleo

Another easy way to add some green to the plate is with a heaping helpful of coconut-cream spinach, comfort food at the ultimate. Frozen spinach not only makes this dish a cinch to slap together, but it also gives it that perfect kind of gloopy texture you remember from holidays (and cafeterias) past. Get the recipe.

Sweet Potato Casserole If You Like Marshmallows

vegan sweet potato casserole with aquafaba marshmallow

I Love Vegan

There are two types of people in this world: Those who like their sweet potatoes with marshmallow, and those who don’t. Thankfully we’ve got both covered: This dish calls for a spiced topping of aquafaba–chickpea-can liquid or pot liquor whipped up into a cream-like foam–that is fluffy, sweet, and as heaven-pillow light as roasted marshmallows, without the icky gelatin. If you like your side dishes to straddle the border between dinner and dessert, this recipe is your ticket to paradise. Get the recipe.

Sweet Potato Casserole If You Hate Marshmallows

vegan sweet potato casserole with pecan crumble

Nutritional Foodie

Not into the marshmallow thing? No problem: This nutty, maple-syrup-kissed casserole has the perfect balance of warm homey flavors, slight crunch, and sweet, comforting decadence–no ‘mallows (or substitutes) to be seen. Get the recipe.

Cornbread Stuffing

vegan cornbread stuffing

This Savory Vegan

Jiffy cornbread mix is the secret ingredient to this vegetarian classic, combining the sweetness of corn with the depth of flavor added by the Scarborough Fair flavors of parsley, sage, and thyme. (See below for rosemary, to complete the tune.) Onion and celery add texture, and a bit of imitation-chicken flavor rounds out the “Wait, this is vegan?” surprise. Get the recipe.

Apple-Cranberry Rosemary Stuffing

vegan stuffing with apple, cranberry, and rosemary

Cooking Classy

Look, why not have two stuffings on the table? Heaven knows everybody loves stuffing. This sweet-and-savory version combines the tart pop of apples and cranberries with the earthy, herbaceous note of rosemary for a more complex flavor profile that is so good it can almost anchor the plate as a main. Smash leftovers into patties and pan fry them for the perfect griddle cake, topped with poached or fried eggs for your non-vegan morning gang. Get the recipe.

Pumpkin-Cheesecake Pie

vegan pumpkin cheesecake pie

Lands And Flavors

Creamy, sweet, luxurious, and the perfect way to end an evening of plant-based indulgence, this show-stopping pie builds on a date-nut crust with a creamy layer of tangy cashew-cheesecake and a classic top of silky pumpkin goodness. Serve with a scoop of vanilla soy or coconut-milk iced cream and a steaming cup of hot coffee, and you’ve simply outdone yourself this year, my friend. Get the recipe.

For more Thanksgiving tips, hacks, and recipes, check out our Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide and our Ultimate Friendsgiving Guide.

Related Video: Delicious Vegan Friendsgiving Cookies with CBD Oil

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Erin Meister (you can just call her “Meister”) is both a longtime journalist and a coffee professional with nearly two decades’ experience. She has written about food, coffee, film, travel, music, culture, and celebrity for The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Rachael Ray Every Day,, Time Out NY, Chickpea Magazine, Food & Wine’s, BUST magazine, Barista Magazine, and more. She is the author of the brand-new book “New York City Coffee: A Caffeinated History (The History Press, 2017)”.

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