Build Your Own Vegetarian Thanksgiving


Society is generally supportive of vegetarianism, that is, until Thanksgiving. When discussing my family’s vegetarian Thanksgiving with others, there is always a host of mixed reactions and questions.

In yesterdays post, on Why to Have a Vegetarian ThanksgivingI explained that I love the questions people ask, becuase I love sharing the ratioinale behind this lifestyle choice, hoping that it will inspire people in some small way to think more intentionally about what in their own life they could change to better protect the environment.

Of all the questions I get, varying from specific recipe details to protein concerns, the two main questions I get boil down to:

 1) Why?, and 2) How?

Yesterday, I answered why have a Vegetarian Thanksgiving. You can check out some of those statistics and reasons here!

Today I want to focus on how to have a vegetarian Thanksgiving. 

Drum roll please!

Like any large meal, the formula for a vegetarian Thanksgiving is the same as a traditional Thanksgiving meal. You want an entrée dish, several dishes- varying from vegetable to bread options, and of course, dessert! Thus, I propose the following formula:

1-2 Entrée Dishes + 3-6 Side Dishes + 1-2 Breads + 1 Dessert = Vegetarian Thanksgiving!

From the food options below, you can select your own entrée dishes, side dishes, bread recipes, and dessert recipe, to build your own vegetarian Thanksgiving menu, which you can supplement with some of your family’s favorite dishes! Base the number of dishes and recipes off of the crowd you are anticipating, and if you have a family favorite recipe that you do not see on this list, leave a comment below! I would love to add your favorite dishes to my “To-Cook” list for my own future Thanksgiving celebrations!

Happy Celebrating, cooking, and eating. Come back soon!

Love, A Rented Kitchen

Entree Options:

Side Dishe Options:

Bread Options:

Dessert Options:

Why Have a Vegetarian Thanksgiving?

dsc_00111 In general, life as a vegetarian is really quite easy. Vegetarian corndogs are delicious, my favorite burger joint serves the most beautiful veggie burger, and I am able to get more than enough protein everyday (contrary to popular belief). Ten years ago, it might have been challenging to find vegetarian options at restaurants in the United States. However, these days, we Americans are great at the vegetarian game! Vegetarianism no longer seems to be just a fad or a hippie diet, it’s a way of living, and society, in general, is supportive. Society is supportive of vegetarianism that is, until Thanksgiving. When discussing my family’s vegetarian Thanksgiving with others, there appears to be a lot of confusion and mixed reactions. For example: 5208392 wutimages

Once the initial reaction wears off, the two main questions in regards to a vegetarian Thanksgiving tend to be: 1) Why?, and 2) How?

Some people want to know what we will eat, others want to know what the protein source will be, and still others are curious to know if the meal feels as set apart and celebratory without a full turkey. Those are all legitimate questions, and I cannot blame people for asking. Honestly, I love the questions, because I love sharing my perspective with others, in hopes that it will gently challenge people to think about the impact of traditions. Thus, today, I am here to answer question number 1:

Why would you have a vegetarian Thanksgiving?

(The following words are a repost from my Vegetarian Thanksgiving post last year! These estimates and my opinion still apply here.).

“There are many advantages to a vegetarian thanksgiving. Here are a few….

  1. The environmental impact of going vegetarian is Huge! It is so easy to shop local and organic for fruits and vegetables that are in season, which cuts down on the use of pesticides, food miles traveled, and minimizes waste! In order to plump up the almost 46 million turkeys Americans consume each year, there has to be an enormous amount of grain grown. That means there is unbelievable amounts of energy, water, and land used to produce that grain- food and energy we could just be using and eating ourselves.
  2. A vegetarian thanksgiving can be much healthier! If you sub out the meat, which by the end of being cooked, stuffed, and covered in gravy can be pretty high in calories and fat, and substitute in more vegetables, you will end the meal feeling much better about yourself than you are used to!
  3. A vegetarian thanksgiving is quicker and easier! You may make more casserole dishes than you are used to by eliminating the main entrée (the turkey), however many of those smaller casserole dishes can be conquered a few days in advance. This allows for you to spread out your cooking endeavors, and actually give yourself some time to relax on the holiday- instead of being in the kitchen waiting on that bird to brown all afternoon.

For all these reasons and more, I encourage you to think about a vegetarian thanksgiving. If you absolutely cannot imagine that, try to use an organic or local turkey- it makes a huge environmental difference! Also consider using a smaller turkey than you’re used to. More is not always better, or necessary.”

I share this with you not to guilt anyone into having a vegetarian Thanksgiving, but to encourage you to think about what you can do to minimize envionmental harm. Curious in how to pull off a vegetarian Thanksgiving? Check back tomorrow for my very own “Build Your Own Vegetarian Thanksgiving!,” including some of the delicious recipes pictured above! Until then, thank goodness it’s Friday.