How to celebrate Thanksgiving as a vegetarian

By Hayley Devitt

The hardest part of going vegetarian and coming to a family dinner is turning down food that someone made with love for you.

Many won’t understand, will worry about your nutrition or think you’re being rude. However, with time and a little practice, everyone will adjust. You might even teach your extended family a new way to look at food.

But what do vegetarians eat on Thanksgiving? This Thursday will be my third consecutive turkey day without meat, so I can offer a rundown on how the holiday can be for those going veggie for the first time.

Every food gathering is hard for people with special diets. Some family members might take care of you and have something meat-free prepared, but don’t take that for granted; the holidays are stressful enough.

Side dishes are the obvious choice at a shared meal. In the past, I’ve often filled up on pre-dinner raw veggies like carrot sticks, and then mashed potatoes, sweet corn and dinner rolls.

Nevertheless, some will want more than sides out of this event. A good way to accommodate your special diet and show how responsible and mature you are is to bring your own main dish. We’re in college now, and it is customary for adults to bring dishes to share.

Your grandparents, aunts and uncles will be relieved to see you are able to cook healthy meals for yourself while away at school. Also, bringing enough of your “special food” to share with everyone will allow you to blend in rather than be the outcast of the table.

This brings up a similar but trickier situation: veganism. I try to limit eating things with egg and dairy, but desserts and dinner rolls are extremely hard for me to turn down. Plus, a lot of vegetable dishes may be made with butter in them. Again, there are ways around this holiday conundrum if you choose to be totally plant-based.

Kindly ask the cook to hold off on adding butter or milk to things. If that’s unavoidable, there is again the option of bringing dishes to pass. You could also take it upon yourself to provide dinner rolls for the entire group, but make sure to buy vegan-friendly breads. I’m a big fan of the vegan Best Life buttery spread, so you could keep a small tub at the table with you.

Last but certainly not least: desserts. As with all other recipes, whoever is making the tasty pies may be willing to make his or her recipes egg- and dairy-free for you. However, don’t expect this to be the case. Unless the house has something vegan like sorbet or Popsicles, you’ll probably have to bring a dessert, too.

Remember, this is a day for comfort. Enjoy your food, and be thankful you live in a country with the option to eat all the fruits and veggies you want rather than meat. This day doesn’t have to be painful, for you or for the turkey.