Although this post is about catering the need of a Vegetarian Thanksgiving Day, I would like to expand the scope a bit. Last August I was sitting with some friends in the U.S. after attending a convention in Vegas. We started discussing on healthy food and healthy habits in general, which is becoming an important topic all over the world nowadays. It was no surprise to me that, being around people with several nationalities and from different geographical areas, opinions varied amongst us. One of the “issues” we discussed about, was accommodating guests, family members or friends with different eating habits and lifestyle when hosting a party or diner. I remember we touched upon traditional “food fests” at certain Holidays which made it impossible to cater to these special requests, like when somebody is a vegetarian.
Hosting a Vegetarian Thanksgiving Day
If you’re hosting Thanksgiving Day at your home and you are expecting vegetarian guests this year, don’t fret about preparing one large meat-eating meal and a different separate vegetarian meal. Most vegetarians don’t require a ‘meat equivalent’ at Thanksgiving. Yes, traditionally Thanksgiving Day has largely been about the food, that’s what I’ve been told. But more significantly, it’s about loved ones, togetherness, happiness and serenity. Try a few of these ideas to incorporate healthy food preparation into your meals, that your vegetarian guests, and you as host, will be grateful for this Thanksgiving or any other Holiday meal or fest for that matter:
- Bake a little stuffing outside of the turkey (provided your stuffing is not containing any other meat product, needless to say…)
- Make a little portion of vegetarian gravy (same as you would do your traditional gravy but hold the non-veggie ingredients)
- When recipes are adaptable, utilize substitutions like vegetarian broth, soy margarine (the preparations without whey are suitable for vegans as well), soy milk, and kosher marshmallows which are made without gelatin.
- Utilize vegetable oils rather than animal fats for frying, and veggie shortening like Crisco for pie crust.
- Read ingredients lists cautiously on pre-packed foods, being aware of terms like gelatin, whey, and “natural flavors” that may be animal-derived.
- Fix plenty of veggie and fruit side dishes, but leave them plain.
- Provide plenty of breads, beverages, fresh fruits, and non-gelatin desserts, which are appropriate without modification for most vegetarians.
- First and foremost – make gobs of new, delicious (not overly cooked) veggies that are perfectly in season like squashes, sweet potatoes, green beans and so forth.
- Keep cooking utensils separate to forestall “cross-contamination” between meat foods and vegetarian foods. Trust me on this last one. If you are very consciously doing so, it will raise your awareness and “mental state” on the loving/caring for your guests and when noticed, you will get tons of respect and gratitude back, free of charge.
A different approach would be to invite your vegetarian guest to cook a “Tofurky” or vegetarian ‘turkey equivalent’ entrée to share with you and the rest of your guests, or if you’re hosting Thanksgiving Day, fix a small one. Your meat-eating guests may just be curious enough and lured to try it!
If asking them to prepare the whole meal themselves, it would not suit your or their style. Ask your vegetarian guest for assistance, tips or recipes that would complement their vegetarian choice. You might find that your guest offers to help out in the kitchen or bring a dish from home anyways. Please don’t take a dish from home as an insult to your cooking; take it as a want to share traditions at Thanksgiving Day. Even meat-eating homes put up benefit from a healthy, nutrient-dense vegetarian recipe idea any time of the year! It is this way I learned that there are delicious vegetarian recipes and vegetarian meals that are not limited to a bowl of plain salad and I now sometimes prepare it for myself, Holiday diner or not!
Have a conscious day!