A Thanksgiving Survival Guide For Vegetarians and Vegans

For most of us, Thanksgiving dinner means turkey with all the (sometimes meat-infused) trimmings, including  stuffing, casseroles galore—and gravy, gravy, gravy! If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, how do you enjoy Thanksgiving dinner without having to resort to a plateful of carbs? Two words: Plan ahead.  

Preparation Makes Perfect

If you’re not hosting Thanksgiving dinner yourself, it’s a good idea to give your hosts a heads-up on your dietary restrictions. Barrie Wolfe, MS, RD, a nutritionist based in Chappaqua, says that it’s perfectly acceptable “to casually ask what’s being served a few days in advance.” If you don’t know the host well or feel uncomfortable about inquiring about the menu, “eat a little something beforehand so you’re not starving,” advises Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RD, CDN, a Harrison-based nutritionist.

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Sharing is Caring

“When I host, I always ask if anyone has food restrictions,” says Schapiro, and Wolfe agrees that a good host should “make sure that each person has at least one dish” that meets his or her dietary restrictions. If you’re a guest, bring a dish “that accommodates your diet but that everyone can enjoy.” Wolfe says it’s not difficult to accommodate vegetarian or vegan guests. For instance, you could “make a soup with a vegetable-based rather than chicken-based broth.” In addition, you can “include an acceptable protein such as tofu, saitan, beans, or, if they are a pesco-vegetarian, fish. For a vegan, you could use almond, soy, or coconut milk instead of regular milk in a recipe.” 

Get the Goods

Both Wolfe and Schapiro swear by Whole Foods for vegan- and vegetarian-friendly ingredients and prepared foods, and both note that there are many county caterers and restaurants that offer vegan and vegetarian fare. “And wholefoods.com has amazing recipes, too!” says Wolfe. See? Easy-peasy. 

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