For as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I'd trade Christmas music, elaborate Halloween costumes, or popping a bottle of champagne at midnight for a classic sit-down Thanksgiving dinner in a a heartbeat. There may not be many of us, but we Thanksgiving lovers take our dinners extremely seriously

Tegwyn Hughes

So when I became a vegetarian two and a half years ago, cutting out all red meat, poultry, and fish, my first concern was how my Thanksgiving would be impacted. I mean, is it even Thanksgiving if a turkey doesn't command the center of attention? Plus, as the only non meat-eater in my extended family, where would I be left during dinner? Probably starving in the corner, watching as everyone indulged in my favorite holiday celebration. 

Thankfully, even though the rest of my family still regularly eats meat, they have always been accommodating to my dietary choices. This is no exception when it comes to Thanksgiving. Thanks to some strategic planning I am still able to fully participate and stuff myself during our family dinner. Here are some suggestions to making your next Thanksgiving dinner vegetarian/vegan-friendly:

1) Don't Shame

Alison Regan

Okay, I get it: some vegetarians and vegans can be quite vocal about their dietary preferences and choices to exclude animal products. However, that doesn't mean that all of us are on some crusade to ban meat. I haven't eaten red meat in two and a half years, but that doesn't mean I don't crave a medium rare hamburger ever once in a while. In fact, some vegetarians choose this diet for various health reasons, rather than moral considerations. So yes, I have to be careful in choosing what to eat and avoiding hidden meat. No, I am not judging you for the helping of turkey on your plate. Yes, I still can enjoy food-centered celebrations. Don't comment on my choices and I'll kindly do the same. 

2) It's all about the sides

chicken, sauce
Helena Lin

While the thought of "Thanksgiving dinner" calls to mind the quintessential image of a roasted turkey gracing the center of the table, we cannot forget the supporting members of the show. I'm talking the side dishes that round out the meal: stuffing, casseroles, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes. All of these dishes can be adopted to make excellent choices for a vegetarian or vegan. Adjusting your recipes slightly to accommodate for your veggie friends takes minimal effort, and goes a long way. Here are some adaptations of classic dishes to help you include everyone this Thanksgiving

"The Best Vegetarian Stuffing Ever" (

  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:45 mins
  • Total Time:55 mins
  • Servings:6
  • Medium


  • 2 sticks salted butter
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped sage
  • 1 large white onion chopped
  • 3 stalks celery finely chopped
  • 2 apples chopped skins on
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 can vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 loaf french bread best if one day old
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Step 1

    Preheat oven to 350°. In the meantime, melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot to pan. As onions appear translucent, add garlic, apples, salt and pepper. Let cook for about 2 minutes. Pour the can of vegetable broth into the pan, seasoning with cayenne and salt and pepper, as desired. Let saute for 1-2 minutes.

  • Step 2

    Tear french bread into 1/2 inch cubes and place into a 2 3/4-quart casserole dish. Add in cranberries and sage. Take mixture from above and pour it over bread. Mix well, making sure all bread is soaked.

  • Step 3

    Bake uncovered at 350° for 45 minutes, increasing to an hour if desired. Make sure to stir at least once during baking for best results.

Green Beans with Lemon-Almond Pesto (

  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:15 mins
  • Total Time:25 mins
  • Servings:6
  • Easy


  • Cooking spray or olive oil mister
  • 1 1/2 lbs. green beans trimmed
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Step 1

    Preheat oven to 400°.

  • Step 2

    Spray rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, lay out green beans in a single layer and spray again. Roast for 15 minutes, or until tender.

  • Step 3

    In a food processor, combine almonds, lemon juice, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper until roughly chopped. Add olive oil as needed to reach desired consistency. Spoon over green beans and serve.

3) Tofurky

meat, chicken, vegetable, sauce, pork
Ellie Haun

Despite the ~funky~ sounding name, Tofurky's popularity, as well as other mock-meat products, has been on the rise over the past few years. Made from soy products, Tofurky provides a satisfying alternative for vegetarians and vegans. The product is designed to mimic the taste and texture of a real turkey dinner, so that both meat eaters and vegetarians can enjoy their Thanksgiving dinner together. Some Tofurky dinners even come with a wishbone, so you can still take part in a classic Thanksgiving tradition.

4) Be considerate of hidden meat or animal products

dairy, butter, dairy product, milk, cheese
Caroline Ingalls

While some vegetarians focus on just eliminating meat from their diet, many others take great care to avoid animal products all together, including some foods that may not be obvious. For example, soups made with beef broth or gelatin are not vegan, as they incorporate animal products. Simply checking nutrition information for hidden culprits can go a long way. And of course, if you aren't positive what someone is comfortable with eating or not, just ask! 

5) Get in the holiday spirit

Party, Indian Food, Sparklers, Sangria, sushi
Carolyne Su

The real reason that Thanksgiving has always been my favorite is the time I get to spend with family and friends. For a whole day, the focus is on the people I am most thankful for in life. It's a time of reflection and relaxation, an excuse to indulge, and a time to make memories with those you care about the most. While gathering around food can enhance the celebration, the focus on getting in the holiday spirit and celebrating what you are most grateful for. Don't obsess over what you can cannot serve to your guests- instead, focus on these people instead! Turn the music up, keep the drinks and conversation flowing, and all will fall into place. Keeping the message of Thanksgiving in mind will make your celebration enjoyable for veggies and carnivores alike.