What Do Vegans And Vegetarians Do For Thanksgiving?

By Corey Bivins

When I was a little girl, I thought the best thing about Thanksgiving was the food: my grandma's green bean casserole, mashed potatoes with gravy, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie and turkey. When I reminisce about those traditions, I realize now that I really didn't care for the food. (What is that odd cranberry stuff that comes out of a can anyway?) What I really loved was the tradition of spending time with my loved ones. Now, with a family of my own, I want to create our own traditions so that my children will have fond memories. Most importantly, I want them to know that Thanksgiving is about celebrating life and that this celebration can be done without taking the life of a turkey. If you too are looking to create new traditions for your family, or need to know what to serve your vegetarian/vegan guests, here are some animal-friendly suggestions for a healthy and humane feast:

  • Take your favorite childhood Thanksgiving dishes and make them vegetarian/ vegan. For instance, stuffing can be made using a vegetable broth and pies can be made using vegetable shortening in place of lard or butter.
  • Try a commercial or homemade unturkey main dish
  • Thanksgiving usually has a generous amount of side dishes, so try skipping the turkey substitute and feasting on the side dishes.
  • If the people you celebrate with are not vegetarian, propose alternating years so that every other year the feast is vegetarian/vegan. Promise to help with recipes and ideas.
  • Host a Day After Thanksgiving Vegetarian/Vegan Feast with friends, whether it be an extravagant sit-down dinner or a potluck.

Here are some menu ideas:


  • Field Roast Celebration Roast
  • Garden Protein Veggie Turkey Breast
  • Tofurky
  • Pecan encrusted seitan
  • Butternut squash with wild rice stuffing
  • Veggie pot pie
  • Veggie loaf
  • Nut roast


  • Pumpkin soup
  • Butternut squash soup
  • 12 bean soup
  • Black bean and sweet potato chili
  • Marinated lentil salad
  • Quinoa salad
  • Vegetable barley couscous
  • Cranberry spinach salad


  • Mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy
  • Potato and kale galette
  • Roasted brussels sprouts with onions and apples
  • Green beans with cranberries
  • Cranberry-apple relish
  • Cranberry chutney
  • Corn bread
  • Sweet potato biscuits


  • Walnut-apple stuffing
  • Sourdough stuffing with pine nuts and raisins
  • Cranberry-pear wild rice stuffing
  • Cornbread stuffing
  • Stuffing with gimmelean sausage
  • Quinoa stuffing


  • Pumpkin or squash pie
  • Sweet potato pie
  • Apple pie
  • Pear and apple crumble
  • Cranberry-nut bread
  • Poached pears with wine vinaigrette
  • Lemon custard bars
  • Fresh fall fruit tart



  • Vegan Handbook by The Vegetarian Resource Group
  • Friendly Foods by Brother Ron Pickarski
  • The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
  • A Bountiful Vegan Thanksgiving by Nava Atlas
  • Vegetarian Times Complete Thanksgiving Cookbook

Thanksgiving Day recipes

Groups that have sponsored Veggie Thanksgiving Dinners

Restaurants that have served Veggie Thanksgiving Meals

  • Café Flora (Seattle, WA)
  • Chicago Diner (Chicago, IL)
  • GreenFare (Herndon, VA)
  • The Green Owl Cafe (Madison, WI)
  • Green Vegetarian Cuisine (San Antonio, TX)
  • Modern Love (Omaha NE)
  • Pena Pachamama Restaurant  (San Francisco, CA)
  • Plant Food + Wine Restaurant (Venice, CA)
  • Raven's Restaurant at The Standford Inn  (Mendocino, CA)
  • Stuff I Eat (Inglewood, CA)
  • Sublime Restaurant (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

  • Best Wishes to you and your family and friends this Thanksgiving!