It's my first Thanksgiving as a vegan, and it couldn't have been at a better time. It's 2016, and that means one does not have to settle for a spongy, bland, lightly marinated block of tofu in place of turkey or any other traditional holiday roast.
Brands such as Gardein, Field Roast, and Tofurkey have each released various kinds of vegan holiday roasts. In NYC specifically, a few notable vegan restaurants have made catering menus available for those who prefer that to products you can buy in a supermarket.
So, based on results from a poll I conducted within the Vegans of New York (VoNY) Facebook page (65 votes), an exhausting amount of YouTube taste test videos (too many to link), and my own experience/tough critic preference, here are the top 5 vegan holiday roasts available in NYC:
5. Tofurky Veggie Roast ($12-$16)
Based on so, so many things I've heard from people I know and people on social media, this roast is simply meh. Though one of the first vegan roasts to come about, it has a spongy texture, bland taste, and makes for an overall disappointing experience. Sorry, Tofurky. Maybe it's time for an update.
4. Gardein Holiday Roast ($16)
Though the leader in my poll for about 20 points, Gardein's delicious holiday roast has to go fourth for me. The reasons become clearer once you read #1's story. While accurate in taste and texture to turkey, you can get a much cheaper version of it under a different name.
3. Field Roast Roasts (~$15)
Field Roast definitely has the most options out of the brands I've looked at; they have a hazelnut-cranberry flavor, a pineapple-glazed roast, and their signature 'celebration' roast, which tastes very similar to Italian meatball concentrate. Field Roast has a trademark tough, meatloaf-esque texture that can be found in these roasts, along with intense savory flavors that cannot be compared with regular meat roasts. They're fancy meatloaves; if that appeals to you, go get them!
2. Catered Meals ($ varies)
NYC is lucky enough to be considered one of the top vegan food destinations in the world, so it only makes sense that you should take advantage of the delicious Thanksgiving catering options there are! Quite a few restaurants and bakeries provide this service, but some of the more notable ones/popular favorites include: the Cinnamon Snail, Monk's Meats, Organic Grill, Gone Pie (just pies), and Dun-Well Donuts (just donuts). This is not an exhaustive list, and each restaurant (all of these I can vouch for, knowing their regular food) has their own distinct take on Thanksgiving food. You can order an entire meal, one dessert, just a side, or any combination you desire!
1. Trader Joe's Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast ($10)
The surprise winner! I've tried it myself and loved it--it's just so far above other options with its accuracy of replication in terms of texture and taste, if that's what you're going for. The stuffing inside tastes fresh and herbaceous, and the bread crust on the outside gives a feel of decadence. Surprisingly, this is also the lowest-calorie option out of all the brand roasts. Also, this TJ's roast is rumored to be made by Gardein. So you're literally getting the same product for about $6 cheaper. It's an all-around win-win-win-win.
If you have a favorite vegan restaurant in the city, there's also a very good chance they're hosting a Thanksgiving-themed meal on the day of. If you're looking for dishes to bring to your family potluck, YouTube is full of delicious seasonal recipe videos (my favorite channels are SweetPotatoSoul, Caitlin Shoemaker, and hot for food).
Whichever way, I wish everyone a happy and tasty ThanksLiving!