As October draws to a close, spooky decor and Halloween candy are exchanged for the promise of a break from midterms and a comforting Thanksgiving feast. 

However, some of the holiday splendor seems unattainable for those with certain food allergies. Pumpkin pie is a no-go to those who can't have dairy, stuffing is out of the question for the gluten intolerant, and what are vegetarians to do about the crown jewel of Thanksgiving dinner: The turkey?

We have provided a master list of Thanksgiving favorites and substitutions for ingredients that may be problematic for altered lifestyles and restricting allergies. So if you're returning home this holiday season with a new plant-based lifestyle or you just hate green beans, never fear; you can still have a fruitful and delicious Thanksgiving with these simple twists on the classics.


turkey, meat
Sydney Segal
If you're a vegetarian: 

As this is the likeliest reason you are not eating this traditional roasted bird, the obvious option would be to just skip the turkey altogether. However, there are vegetarian substitutes that might satisfy your craving for something meaty. Try any of these meat substitutes, or try replacing with mushrooms, which have an earthy flavor and a meaty consistency.


Liz Kaplan

If you're vegetarian:

Most stuffing recipes call for chicken stock to bind together all that bread. If you want to avoid using animal products altogether, use a veggie stock instead. Bake the stuffing in a casserole dish instead of inside the turkey (it's actually way healthier like this anyway). 

If you can't eat gluten:

This one is quite simple; to avoid gluten in stuffing, simply use your favorite bread substitute. Cut into cubes like you would for regular stuffing and bake as usual. Gluten-free bread tends to be drier than regular bread, so it actually acts more as a sponge for the wet ingredients and, some might say, soaks up the flavor better than the original.

Mashed potatoes

Bernard Wen
If you can't eat dairy products:

There is a whole world of dairy substitute products out there that are, in my humble opinion, just as good as their dairy counterparts (though they have a long way to go with cheese). Try replacing the butter with a vegan buttery spread or olive oil. 

You can also add dairy-free milk, sour cream, or cream cheese to amplify the creaminess. Be sure to incorporate lots of spices, herbs, and garlic to take these potatoes to the next level. Your guests will never be able to tell the difference. 

If you're trying to steer clear of potatoes:

Potatoes, while delicious, are complex carbs that can raise your blood sugar and should be eaten in moderation. Instead, try mashing cauliflower. It sounds a little weird at first, but if you get the consistency and seasoning right, they should be just as smooth and creamy.

Candied yams

Sweet potato casserole

lorda on Flickr

If you don't want a sugar rush:

When I think "sweet potato" and "Thanksgiving," I immediately think of orange glop in a casserole dish with a pile of toasted marshmallows on top. If you want that same sweet, candied taste but want a healthier take, try this recipe. It uses maple syrup, honey, and apple cider to elevate the natural sweetness of yams and sweet potatoes. 

Pumpkin pie

pie, sweet, pastry, cream, cake, pumpkin, chocolate, pudding, crust, cookie
Sharpay Zhang

If you can't eat gluten:

Just because you can't digest wheat doesn't mean you can't partake in what's arguably the best part of Thanksgiving dinner. Gluten-free pie crusts are sometimes available ready-made in grocery stores, but if you can't find them there, they are super easy to make at home. Simply buy a gluten-free flour such as rice, potato, or almond, and make the pie crust as usual with the same measurements. This recipe details the process. 

If you can't eat dairy products:

Butter is an important component in pie crusts; it gives it the flakiness that is crucial to the pie eating experience. However, there are ways around using butter in your pastry dough. Again, vegan butters are available on the market, and those will work just fine, but if you want to go another route you can also use olive, coconut, or vegetable oil.  

#SpoonTip: Try to keep the oil relatively chilled during the dough-making process.

The pie filling itself often includes some type of milk in the wet ingredients. Substitute milk product (usually evaporated milk) for any unseated non-dairy milk of your choice. Almond and coconut work wonderfully.

Green bean casserole

Green Bean Casserole Sq

mealmakeovermoms on Flickr

If you can't eat dairy products: 

Let's be honest: Nobody knows why we still have green bean casserole. It's usually made with a thick slop called cream of mushroom soup, which is questionable in its own right, and for some reason it tends to get cold and soggy no matter how quickly it's served after it is taken out of the oven.

The only redeemable thing about this dish is the fried onions on top, but those are usually overpowered by the cream of mushroom soup. If you must venture into this territory and cannot eat the "cream" substance, try slicing up mushrooms and sautéing them with butter, garlic, herbs, and almond milk.

If you can't eat gluten:

Either fry your own thin onion slices with a gluten-free batter, or top your green beans with crushed rice crackers for a similar salty crunch.

If you just don't like green beans:

Try substituting another vegetable in while keeping the recipe the same. Sturdy choices like brussels sprouts, broccoli, or asparagus will hold up well to the thick soup.

So this Thanksgiving, ward off unwanted questions about your "trendy" diet, "weird" eating habits, or "unfortunate" allergies and make some delicious substitutes for these family favorites — you'll be thankful you did.