A Deliciously Meatless Thanksgiving

As the token vegetarian in my family, Thanksgiving dinner has long been a time of sneaky stink eyes, exasperated sighs, and the classic, “I think these mashed potatoes are meat-free…oh wait, I used chicken stock.”   On a day that emphasizes edible indulgence to the point of a food coma, those like me who choose to avoid meat are often the odd ones out (insert pouty face here).  Instead of complaining, we usually just grin, bear it, and fill up on a less than complete meal of green bean casserole, dinner roles, and pumpkin pie.

Now, I'm nowhere near as strict a vegetarian as I used to be, and my reasons remain varied for maintaining a (primarily) meat-free diet (perhaps I will cover that topic somewhere in the future), but part of me still dreads holidays where the meal is centered around a big ole heaping of animal.  I want to sit down and enjoy a special feast with family, but it still feels rude to turn down that holiday "staple".  

This year I am spending Thanksgiving at my parents' houses, which lucky for me means NO COOKING!  Unluckily for me it means I can't dictate the entire menus to my meat-free preferences.  I will likely still contribute a dish or two, and have rounded up recipes that look ever-so-tempting.  If I don't make them this year, I sure as heck am keeping them in my back pocket for future holidays.  The great news is that the dishes I've compiled into the Perfect Thanksgiving Meatless Menu out will appeal to herbivores AND carnivores alike.  None contain Tofurkey and all embody the flavors of fall in the best ways.  For those of you considering a turkey-less Thanksgiving, consider this: 

A meatless meal can be just as rich and delicious as any classic Thanksgiving dish.  Plus, think of all the time (and money!) you’ll save when prepping, brining, cooking, basting, and stuffing the turkey is out of the picture (plus here is this example of the terrible grossness of poultry raised for meat)!  

Flavors I really associate with Thanksgiving dinner and autumn in general are cozy, rich, toasty, savory....anything that tastes of sage, rosemary, warming spices, squash, cranberry, maple, apple, and flaky-buttery goodness.  Below are the delectable-looking dishes I have rounded up using these flavor standards to make the best veggie holiday spread around.  Click on pictures and links to get the recipes!

This salad would make a divine starter, but I'd add some roasted beets.  You could make your own but these are my absolute favorite.

Yummy nummy creamed spinach.  I'd eat this and green bean casserole at every holiday meal (hint hint Mom and Dad).

Booya, cornbread.  Give this vegan option a shot (and then let me know how it was!), or if you're lazy like me use the boxed kind or just roll out some crescent rolls!  

You're talking to a girl who hated cauliflower until verrry recently (like within the last year probably).  I was fine with broccoli and other veggies--even brussel sprouts--but something about cauliflower made me cringe.  But then I discovered cauliflower steaks and am totally converted.  This mustard-parmesan whole roasted cauliflower would make a great meaty main-course substitute, especially if you whip up a little tarragon mayo for the side and a drizzle of lemon.  Oh lahhhd my mouth waters!

Mashed taters ain't nothin' without gravy, but giblets are gross!  I'd whip up this vegetarian gravy, or this vegan gravy to top off my whipped spuds. 

Martha always does holidays right, and these twice-baked butternut squash seem like no exception to her mastery of meals.  They look fresh and filling and would make an excellent main course.

How savory does this forest floor mushroom oat risotto look?!  If you're not vegan a little sprinkling of sharp white cheddar might take this dish over the top. 

Since my mama's cranberry relish recipes are Top Secret, I had to share this scrumptious-looking alternative with you.  It's not Thanksgiving without some cranberry sauce, after all.  

This tasty-looking treat is whipped sweet potatoes with bananas and honey.  I like the alternative to a marshmallow topping since marshmallows are usually made with animal gelatin.  With the honey and banana it sounds good enough to be dessert!

Pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving must, but I'd totally add this apple cardamon crumble, poached pears, and apple cheddar crumble pie to the dessert table as well.

Don't forget the drinks!  This fig/vanilla/cardamon-infused vodka^^ would make a mighty tasty libation, as would this seasonal apple-y moscow mule:

You could even mix up your own fall beverage using your favorite fall fruit, liquor, and herbs!  

You're welcome for making your mouth water.  :)

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving week!  I'd love to hear about your own tasty menus and traditions!