When I think of Thanksgiving, the first thing I think about is turkey. As a vegetarian, I don't know why it's the first thing I think about, but I guess it's because turkey is the staple main course of any Thanksgiving feast. Unfortunately, as a non-meat eater in a family of carnivores, I'm left figuring out what I can eat without feeling left out of the dinner. Also, I just want to eat more than a few side dishes. Luckily, there are people who are more creative than myself who have come up with delicious vegan and vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes.

1. Meat-Free Turkey Alternatives

meat, chicken, vegetable, sauce, pork
Ellie Haun

No Thanksgiving would be complete without a turkey. For a non-meat eater, this tradition won't work for our lifestyle. For a meatless and delicious alternative, check out this list of turkey alternatives that are sure fool the average meat-eater!

2. Vegan Gravy

Helena Lin

Most gravies are made with either chicken, beef, or turkey broth. If you're super traditional, turkey fat is incorporated to add a distinct meaty flavor to the gravy. If you really want to wow the crowd, try recreating this vegan-friendly gravy by the Avant Garde Vegan on YouTube. And, if you're really interested in recreating vegan alternatives of classic meat dishes as well, check out the rest of his channel for more inspiration and recipes. 

3. Mac and Cheese

spoonful, Macaroni and cheese, Mac And Cheese, macaroni, cheese, sauce, pasta
Julia Gilman

Mac and cheese is my favorite dish all year round, and although traditional mac and cheese is vegetarian-friendly, it can't be enjoyed by vegans. Luckily, one of my favorite vegan YouTubers, Sarah from Sarah's Vegan Kitchen, made a vegan-friendly version of the mac and cheese that's easy to make and something everyone can enjoy. She also made an entire full-course vegan Thanksgiving dinner that is sure to please anyone's appetite!

4. Mashed Potatoes

curd, dairy, dairy product, cottage cheese, milk, cereal, rice
Lora Maghen

A traditional side dish and personal favorite, mashed potatoes are a must-have on the Thanksgiving table. However, mashed potatoes contain milk and butter, so as a vegan alternative, try this easy and healthy almond milk mashed sweet potatoes recipe.

5. Stuffing

Liz Kaplan

I always make my classic stuffing using vegetable stock and regular seasoned bread stuffing, but this year I'm going to try something new. To change things up, I'm going to try this easy and healthy apple stuffing that only calls for four ingredients. To make it vegan-friendly, make sure to get bread stuffing that does not contain eggs, milk, or chicken stock by checking the label of ingredients.

6. Pumpkin Pie

Lastly, the pumpkin pie. My favorite part about Thanksgiving dinner is ending it with a piece of delicious pumpkin pie and a dollop of whipped cream on top. Along with trying a different stuffing recipe this year, I want to change it up with this coconut pumpkin pie recipe. It not only sounds amazing, but it is also super easy to make and is vegan-friendly. If you want a healthier or gluten-free pie crust, switch it up with either whole wheat flour or any all-purpose gluten-free flour.

Being vegetarian or vegan doesn't have to be constricting or boring, and there are countless alternatives to these classic dishes. Also, once you've tried vegan mac and cheese, you won't believe it's even vegan!