Is this your first vegan/plant-based Thanksgiving?! First off, congratulations! Second off- deep breaths because it’s all going to be okay!
I know going into your first vegan Thanksgiving can be super stressful, especially if your family is not vegan or not open to it.
For my husband and myself, we struggled on for our first vegan Thanksgiving in 2016 because we were only plant-based for two months prior and it was a completely new world to us!
Here are some my top tips to survive your first Vegan Thanksgiving!
I know this seems super basic, but this is something that I failed to do on my first vegan Thanksgiving. I did not know what plant-based holiday alternatives were out there, I (wrongly) assumed that our families would help provide vegan options, and we did not take nearly enough food for my hubby and I to have at dinner time.
Come up with a game plan for what your meal and dessert will be!
If you’re cooking from scratch, you will need recipes and meal ideas that are plant-based. You’ll need to prep it all ahead of time, and make sure there is enough for whoever is eating it.
If you are ordering a pre-made vegan meal from Whole Foods or your local vegan restaurant (Green in Arizona does vegan meals!) you need to figure out what it consists of and when you can pick it up.
Like I said, plan ahead for what vegan food alternatives you’re going to buy and make!
Surprisingly enough, lots of vegan brands come out with holiday alternatives! The thing is, you usually need to buy these things ahead of time as they do tend to sell out fast.
I will provide a couple food alternatives that you can start with:
Alternative for turkey: TOFURKY
The first year, we did try a Tofurky roast and actually loved it. My father-in-law who is not vegan also really enjoyed it! These do sell out fast in some stores, so purchase ahead of time. I also love the stuffing that’s in the middle of it.
Also rookie mistake- THAW IT OUT! Read the directions as they still need to thaw out like a regular turkey. Oops. haha.
Alternative for gravy: TOFURKY GRAVY
I’m not a huge gravy fan in general, but we have tried this to add to our mashed potatoes and the roast and it is pretty good!
You can also make your own vegan gray, but this is nice for convenience!
Alternative for pie: DAIYA
I LOVE anything pumpkin and this was something I was concerned about my first vegan Thanksgiving!
Luckily, I found this seasonal Daiya pumpkin cheezecake and loved it!
Look in the freezer section of grocery store and ask if they have any in back.
You can always make your own homemade vegan pumpkin pie, but this was really nice to thaw out and have readily available.
These are just a couple vegan food alternatives that have made our Thanksgivings a little easier.
The next thing I am going to repeat to you- TAKE YOUR OWN FOOD TO YOUR FAMILY’S HOUSE. If your family is not vegan, do not expect that they will modify or buy anything else extra for you for your first vegan Thanksgiving. It is YOUR choice to be plant-based, so bring your own stuff to just be safe.
On our first vegan Thanksgiving, neither of our families modified anything for us. You would just assume they would leave butter off of mashed potatoes or rolls until you get there, or switch to margarine, but this is not usually the case. They probably do not know, and if you’re a guest in their home then it can seem rude to ask for such accommodations.
Unless your family/friends have specifically told you they are modifying or accommodating food for you, never assume and come prepared ahead of time.
Food is typically an emotional relationship, so on a day like Thanksgiving, it can be super hard for family members to accept that you have adapted to a new lifestyle. Try to have a positive mind and show that the vegan lifestyle is not hard!
It might be challenging for you to explain your newly found lifestyle, and sometimes people can get triggered by this. Emotions can make things escalate, so I’ve found that leaving the vegan talk out of the dinner conversation might be best depending on the situation. Again, this depends on your family and how receptive they are to you making these changes. Some families might be open to it, others might not.
Our first Thanksgiving was challenging because our family was super resistant, but now that they know it is our permanent lifestyle, they have slowly made little accommodations over the years. My grandma, for instance, made her rice pudding into a vegan version for our second Thanksgiving. I don’t think this would have happened if I ripped her head off about veganism the year prior.
Try not to take people’s comments to heart, and remember why you made the change over to a plant-based lifestyle in the first place.
Your first vegan Thanksgiving will fly by, so remember to cherish time with your loved ones. Do the best you can. Don’t stress!
If you have any other tips for first vegan Thanksgiving, or tips for a plant-based Thanksgiving in general, please leave them in the comments below!