By Lulu Diffenbaugh
When you think of the traditional Thanksgiving meal, your first thought is probably turkey. However, what if you are a vegetarian? Turkey is the most traditional element of the Thanksgiving meal—the part everybody looks forward to and the star of the feast. However, as a vegetarian, I experience this meal a bit differently.
My dad has been a vegetarian his whole life and has never had to experience the after-meal “coma” that takes place after the consumption of the enormous Thanksgiving turkey. Following in his footsteps, my siblings, my mom, and I all became vegetarians at some point in our lives. Being a vegetarian myself for six years, I have picked up some tips and tricks for when you are trying to stay vegetarian during the holidays where you might not be able to indulge in some of the traditional main meals.
Tip #1: To accommodate vegetarians, make typical vegetable dishes without meat. Some meals, I have eaten unnecessary meat products in some dishes. For example, some people put bacon bits in the green beans or chicken stock in the mashed potatoes. Even though bacon might taste good with your green beans, it’s an easy change to hold the additional meat. Keeping the non-meat dishes vegetarian will improve vegetarians’ Thanksgiving meal.
Tip #2: I do not suggest making any sort of meat substitute. As someone who has had both turkey and fake turkey, the truth is: the fake turkey will never be as good as the real thing. I find the fake version to be just an unenjoyable and unnecessary experience–-if you are going to be a vegetarian, do not try to replace what is “missing.” There are plenty of more desirable options that do not include either a real or fake turkey.
Tip #3: Find your own traditions that can replace the classic turkey. My family has two unforgettable parts of our meal that I have had every year. My mom’s family makes delicious potato rolls, and my mom has developed a recipe of divine sweet potato and carrot mashed potatoes. These two elements of my Thanksgiving meal replace any type of turkey I could have, and finding delicious alternatives can make the meal just as fulfilling even without meat involved.
Whether or not you are a vegetarian this Thanksgiving, there are plenty of delicious options on the table. Even if you are not vegetarian, these tasty options are a great addition to the meal. While our meal may not be as traditional as others, my vegetarian family still enjoys our no-turkey, vegetable based, and family tradition-filled version of the classic meal.