Planning and cooking any large meal is a challenge; preparing a big meal when guests have dietary restrictions is even harder. As Thanksgiving approaches — bringing with it a list of conflicting restrictions including allergies, vegetarianism, veganism, and religious restrictions — it’s easy to panic over whether people will be able to eat what you put on the table.

To prepare a table for everyone, you might have to think outside the box. This article is not going to tell you to use egg substitute or any other type of substitute to make classic Thanksgiving dishes. Instead, I’ve rounded up a filling fall menu filled with naturally vegan or easily-adaptable options that can take the place of everything from the turkey to the pie.

Instead of turkey, try stuffed pumpkins

While I appreciate the innovation behind the tofurkey, it’s not fooling anybody. Make fall produce the star of the show instead, by putting an entire pumpkin on the table. A friend recently introduced me to the Armenian dish, ghapama, an entire pumpkin stuffed with a rice filling, and I had to ask for the recipe. The dish has both meat and meatless versions, so it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. Also, there’s nothing quite as theatrical as opening up an entire pumpkin for the table.

Ghapama (Stuffed Pumpkin)

  • Prep Time:15 mins
  • Cook Time:2 hrs 30 mins
  • Total Time:2 hrs 45 mins
  • Servings:10
  • Medium


  • 3 pie pumpkins
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped dried fruit
  • 1 diced apple
  • Step 1

    Remove pumpkin lids and set aside. Remove the pulp and seeds from your pumpkins and rinse them out.

  • Step 2

    Rinse your rice, then add it to a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and then simmer covered for 15 minutes. Drain rice (keep water) and let cool.

  • Step 3

    Melt the oil and syrup together on low heat. Add 1 tbsp of the syrup mixture to each of your pumpkins. Mix the remaining honey into the rice align with the nuts, dried fruit, apple, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

  • Step 4

    Fill the pumpkins with the rice mixture. Divide the cooking liquid (from the rice) between the pumpkins. Return the pumpkins lids to each pumpkin. Bake pumpkins at 375 F for 1-2 hours. Check doneness at 1 hour by poking the pumpkins with a fork.

Instead of rolls, try dairy-free crusty bread

Buttered rolls are delicious, but such small things may remain untouchable if you have guests who are vegan or have dairy allergies. Luckily, many breads are traditionally dairy-free. Cut the eggs and dairy this year, and bake a nice, rustic loaf everybody can enjoy. It may take time to prep, but it’s worth the wait. This recipe is the result of my experimentation with the King Arthur original recipe. Tip: measure out your ingredients by weight.

Crusty Bread

  • Prep Time:12 hrs
  • Cook Time:30 mins
  • Total Time:12 hrs 30 mins
  • Servings:2
  • Medium


  • 4 cups or 450g flour
  • 1 ½ cups or 340g lukewarm water about 100 F
  • 1/2 tbsp or 9g salt
  • 2 tsp or 7g instant yeast
  • Step 1

    Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Stir with a spoon until everything is combined. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for about 2 hours. Refrigerate the bowl overnight.

  • Step 2

    Take out your dough, sprinkle it with flour, and grab half of it. Form the dough into a ball on a lightly-floured countertop. Repeat with other half of dough. Place the loaves onto a parchment-covered upside-down baking sheet. (Lip should be facing the ground.) Cover and let rise 1 hour.

  • Step 3

    Meanwhile, remove the top rack of the oven and put one baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and a baking dish on the bottom rack. Preheat to 450F.

  • Step 4

    Make a shallow cut on the top of your loaf using a sharp knife. The cut should tear the top enough to make the two sides stretch apart. Transfer the loaf and parchment onto the preheated baking sheet and carefully pour 1 cup hot water into the baking dish. Close the oven. Bake about 30 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing.

Instead of mashed potatoes, try roasted Fingerling potatoes

I’ve never been a fan of mashed potatoes to begin with, and attempting to make mashed potatoes without any dairy makes them incalculably worse. Why go through all the labor of peeling, boiling, and mashing potatoes when you could just throw them in the oven for a quick no-hassle side? Try roasting some fingerling potatoes this year. I put together the spice blend based on my tastes, but feel free to change it up.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:30 mins
  • Total Time:40 mins
  • Servings:4
  • Easy


  • 1 lb. fingerling potatoes halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flake
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Step 1

    Add potatoes to bowl and toss with oil and spices. Arrange potatoes cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast at 425 F for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are crispy on the bottom and easily pierced with a fork.

Try making a vegan apple pie?

My grandmother’s apple pie recipe is coincidentally vegan. Some things in life are just naturally perfect.

Bubbe's Apple Pie

  • Prep Time:1 hr
  • Cook Time:1 hr
  • Total Time:2 hrs
  • Servings:8
  • Medium


  • 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/3 cup cold vegetable shortening
  • 4 tbsp cold water
  • 1 tbsp margarine
  • 3 pounds apples
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Step 1

    Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl or food processor. Cut the margarine and shortening into chunks and add the chunks to the flour mixture. Work the dough until it resembles crumbs using either your hands or the food processor. Add the water. Cut the dough in half and flatten each half into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

  • Step 2

    Peel, core, and chop the apples. Add the apples to a bowl with the sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and flour and toss the ingredients.

  • Step 3

    Roll out half of dough on lightly-floured countertop until ⅛ inch thick. Place the dough in a 9” pie pan. Pour the apple filling into the crust. Add the remaining margarine on top of the filling. Roll out the remaining dough and place it over the filling. Gently press the bottom and top crusts together using your fingers or a fork.

  • Step 4

    Cut vents in the top crust with a knife. Bake at 350F for 50 to 60 minutes.

Thanksgiving is both a solemn day and a time to gather with family or friends. Take some time to reflect on why you’re at the table — and what you put on it — this year!