One of the most popular Thanksgiving dishes is, of course, turkey. But while traditional, there are many reasons to boycott the meat this holiday season. Every year, 46 million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving, and most of them will have been raised in cramped, industrialized, pollutive factory farm conditions. In fact, research suggests that more than 99 percent of animals used in the food industry are raised on factory farms in the US. But it is possible to have a delicious celebratory dinner without any animals at all. If you need inspiration, we spoke to five different chefs to find out what delicious vegan meals they’re cooking up this Thanksgiving.
Skip the turkey this Thanksgiving
Many turkeys are raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which can hold around 55,000 birds before they are sent for slaughter. In the wild, the birds are playful, curious, and inquisitive, but on these giant factory farms, which are often windowless, they are unable to carry out their natural behaviors or live anywhere close to their natural life expectancy. If taken care of, domestic turkeys can live for around a decade. In the meat industry, they are usually slaughtered between nine and 21 weeks old.
But Thanksgiving doesn’t have to involve turkey meat at all. If you’re looking for plant-based roast ideas, you can find 14 of our favorite options here. You can also learn how to make a show-stopping Thanksgiving feast without any animal products at all by following our guide here. Make dessert animal-free, too, by ordering one of these tasty dessert options.
For more chef-quality inspiration, find out what five culinary experts are cooking this holiday season below. From nut roast to butternut squash to kare kare, there is something for everyone this Thanksgiving.
5 chefs reveal what’s on their holiday table (with vegan recipes!)
1 Chloe Coscarelli: Cashew Nut Roast & Gravy
“This is my go-to vegan roast recipe because it’s hearty and packed with savory Thanksgiving flavor,” says Chloe Coscarelli, a vegan chef and cookbook author, who was the first ever vegan chef to win the top prize on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.
“Fresh thyme is the key ingredient that really makes it pop so I recommend going the extra mile using fresh vs. dried,” she adds. “As an alternative to baking this as a whole roast, you can also form the mixture into mini croquettes and sauté them in olive oil for a fancy starter!”
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The Edgy Veg
2 Candice Hutchings: Vegan Meatball Glaze
“These vegan glazed meatballs are not only a show-stopping appetizer but also steal the spotlight as a stellar main dish paired with your go-to sides,” says Candice Hutchings, the vegan chef, YouTuber, and recipe developer behind the popular cooking channel and blog The Edgy Vegan.
“The recipe is a testament to simplicity and budget-friendliness, making it a must-have for those moments when you want to impress without breaking the bank,” she adds. “So, whether you’re hosting a soirée or just craving a delicious main course, these vegan glazed meatballs are your ticket to success, courtesy of their effortless charm and irresistible flavor profile.”
“I always bring this dish to my annual Friendsgiving and Christmas potluck and the meat eaters love it and no one even notices it’s vegan,” she continues.
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3 Richa Hingle: Sheet Pan Thanksgiving Dinner
“I love my sheet pan Thanksgiving dinner,” says Richa Hingle, the founder of popular food blog Vegan Richa and author of “Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen.”
“It’s less clean up and less active time in the kitchen as everything bakes on the pan, so no standing around sautéing in multiple dishes,” she continues. “It’s got all the Thanksgiving feels with the delicious lentil loaf, roasted veggies, mushroom stuffing, and garlic green beans.”
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4 Serena Poon: Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash
“I love butternut squash for its exceptional health benefits, including high levels of vitamin A, fiber, and antioxidants, as well as for its delightful sweet and nutty flavor that adds a unique twist to any dish,” says celebrity chef, wellness expert, nutritionist, and Serena Loves founder Serena Poon, who has worked with A-list clients like Kerry Washington and studied at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu culinary school.
“This dish, a personal favorite for any day and particularly fitting for Thanksgiving, perfectly combines the natural sweetness of the squash with the nutty depth of quinoa,” she adds. “The addition of vibrant pomegranate seeds not only introduces a burst of color but also contributes a rich source of antioxidants and longevity promoting polyphenols, while the toasted pine nuts add a delightful crunch and a dose of heart-healthy fats.”
“Although this recipe may take a bit more time than others, the result is a nutritiously rich, flavorful feast that’s worth every minute spent!”
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5 Reina Montenegro: Kare-Kare
“Kare-kare is a traditional Filipino stew that is known for its rich and savory peanut sauce. It is a popular dish in Filipino cuisine and is often served during special occasions and celebrations,” says Reina Montenegro, a Filipino vegan chef, entrepreneur, and restaurateur based in San Francisco, CA.
“The dish typically includes oxtail, tripes (beef or pork), and various vegetables such as banana hearts, eggplants, and string beans,” she adds. The peanut sauce is made from ground peanuts or peanut butter, rice, and annatto seeds, which give it a distinct orange color. In my vegan version of this recipe, the meat is replaced with plant-based alternatives, and the dish is prepared without the use of any animal products.”
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