Courtesy of Tara The Vegan Rah Rah blogI have had the great fortune of being a part of an all vegetarian/vegan Thanksgiving, and I’ve also been to a few non-vegan Thanksgivings over the past few years as well. In either situation, some thoughtful planning and action is required to make a Thanksgiving meal that doesn’t revolve around a giant hulking bird carcass. Many thanks to my Twitter friend @veganyogini who inspired this post of vegan Thanksgiving tips!
When Attending a Traditional (aka non-vegan) Thanksgiving
Communicate with your host. Don’t expect them to make something special for you, but get in touch with them, let them know you’re vegan and ask if they minded if you contributed a dish or two.
- Try and bring at least two dishes, seriously. They might be the only things you can eat.
- At dinner, if things look like they might not contain animal products, don’t be shy about asking who made the dish. Most cooks love talking about what they made, so find out why made that gorgeous salad and get the scoop on its ingredients.
- Be mentally prepared for lots of questions. If you’re eating with a familiar group, they might not give your half naked plate a second glance, but folks who aren’t familiar with your eating choices might start peppering you with the all-too-familiar questions for vegans. “So what DO you eat?” This might be annoying, but be gracious. You might just open up some minds.
- Bring your own booze. Wines and beers may seem harmless, but many are cask conditioned (read: fish oil) or contain other non-vegan ingredients. I highly recommend checking out Barnivore-they have a very extensive list of vegan and non-vegan beers and wine, including their communications with the various companies.
Planning Your Own Vegan Thanksgiving
- Do your homework! There are countless vegan Thanksgiving recipes out there. Start planning your recipes now. You can browse vegan recipes sites and build your own menu, or you can work from some of the set menus out there. For example, I cooked mainly from Robin Robertson’s Thanksgiving menu last year, and this year I’m really excited about picking up a Vegetarian Times to read Bryant Terry’s recipes from last year. If you Google “vegan Thanksgiving recipes,” there is a smorgasboard of information out there.
- Collaborate. My rad friend Sarah hosted our all vegan/vegetarian Thanksgiving a couple of years ago (miss you terribly!), and she and I were in communication right up to before I left the house and who was making and brining what. We still had a few blips, but knowing what the other was up to was key.
- Delegate. If you’re hosting, don’t by shy about putting people to work when they arrive. You can’t expect to pull of a big Thanksgiving meal all by yourself. Well, you probably can, but it might be a lot of work and unnecessary stress.
- Poll your guests. Even though you’re creating a vegan meal, you might have people coming who have gluten or wheat allergies. Ask ahead of time, and try and make dishes to accommodate their special needs. Any time I’ve gone somewhere and a host has gone out of their way to prepare something vegan for me, it really means a lot. Pass on that simple kindness.
- Footnote. I’ve had people ask me so many times “Oh, where did you get that recipe from?” and the I have to remember to go back in find it in my e-mail, look it up online again somewhere, or something else equally tedious. It might be helpful to have a little list of all your URL’s, books, articles, etc. that helped make the meal, and just have it out so your guests can see it and write down the source themselves.