Thanksgiving: Vegetarian alternatives to turkey

By Amanda Lillie

Not many people will argue that Thanksgiving is the most food-centric holiday of the year—hence why we will all inevitably gain five pounds this month.

But Thanksgiving is geared toward carnivores, considering the main course is typically turkey. So what can vegans and vegetarians choose?

Bill Williams, deli manager at Seward Co-op in Minneapolis, says plenty of meat-free options are available that are the veg equivalent of Thanksgiving turkey.

Mushroom-walnut loaves are a popular choice because the texture and flavor of mushrooms is very meaty.

“When you think about mushrooms, they lend themselves to meaty flavors,” Williams says. “That is the meat of the dish.”

Lentil loaves are also an option, but Williams cautions that they fall apart easier than the mushroom-walnut loaves.

If you plan to make something from scratch, make sure to have sage and thyme handy as those are popular Thanksgiving spices. Thyme-roasted beets may be a good option as a side dish to complement the flavor of whatever loaf you choose.

If Thanksgiving isn’t complete for you without gravy, consider making mushroom gravy to go with the meal. It’s veg-friendly and adds a delicious flavor to the meal.

“Mushroom gravy is great,” says Williams. “It’s got some soy in it and is very savory.”

Thanksgiving meals are relatively easy to alter and make veg-friendly, according to Williams. For instance, pumpkin pie recipes can be made with soy milk and organic, raw sugar. “A lot of these (dishes) lend themselves to being vegan.”

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