Have Yourself a Vegetarian Thanksgiving

By Brittany Anderson
Web Content Contributor

It’s the ethical dilemma most on-again, off-again vegetarians like myself face each year: it’s Thanksgiving, and I want to stuff my face with pounds of turkey, bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers and as many non-meat-free casseroles, macaronis, soups and chilis as I can stomach.

Being a rigid vegetarian this time of year seems impossible and borderline torturous. Fear not: no one’s saying anything about tofurkey or vegetables you’ve never heard of. You can still have a delicious Thanksgiving meal without meat— I just can’t promise your extended family won’t make fun of you for it.

An assortment of pumpkins and gourds with the word “mains” overlaid in orange

Cauliflower Wings | Recipe

Cauliflower wings are a super easy and delicious alternative to chicken wings. Baked or fried, toss them in your favorite sauce and forget all about that dry turkey everyone else is having. They pair well with any carb-filled side you can think of, so go crazy.

BBQ Jackfruit Sliders | Recipe

Jackfruit (a freaky looking fruit from South Asia) is known for its juicy flavor and meat-like texture. One of the most popular ways to use it is to shred it like pulled pork and spice it up. Slap it in a dinner roll, bake a side of sweet potato fries and voilà: Thanksgiving sliders.

From the freezer aisle

The idea of meatless meats tend to make people a little queasy and uneasy, but meat-alternative brands like Gardein and Beyond Meat do some really good burgers, sausages and chicken. You can always go the faux meat route in place of turkey and have all the carnivores at Friendsgiving fooled.

 An assortment of pumpkins and gourds with the word “sides” overlaid in orange

Most classic Thanksgiving sides are already veggie-friendly. And let’s be honest, the sides are the best part of Thanksgiving. So, if all else fails, load your plate up with sides! Here are a few more ideas that will keep distracting you from your turkey-less plate.

Cranberry Salsa | Recipe

This sweet and tangy twist on cranberry sauce brings the heat, Tex-Mex style. Scoop it with tortilla chips, spread it on crackers or (literally, because I do this) eat it with a spoon. You’ll never want regular cranberries, sauce or otherwise, again.

Fried Mashed Potato Balls | Recipe

Why eat boring old mashed potatoes when you can turn them into fried balls of goodness? Substitute the crumbled bacon in this recipe for McCormick Bac’n Bits and you’ve got “five servings” of these babies. Right…five servings for yourself.

Curry-roasted butternut squash and chickpeas | Recipe

This Indian-style take on traditional butternut squash takes squash and chickpeas and turns them into a perfect savory side with crunch, deep flavors and lots of protein and vitamins— so your family can finally stop asking you how you get that as a vegetarian.

Whether you indulge in turkey or not this Thanksgiving season, remember that what’s most important is to reflect on your blessings, be genuinely thankful and savor everything. But also, think of the turkeys and actually try to stop eating meat at some point.

Featured image by Brittany Anderson via Canva.

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