Vegetarian Thanksgiving: The host’s guide to special diets

Tofurky

Tofurky is not the only option for vegetarian or vegan Thanksgiving recipes. Image: Wikimedia Commons

For some, there are three words that throw a wrench into their Thanksgiving plans – “I’m a vegetarian.” But never fear, hosting a person with a special diet during Thanksgiving – or any day – is a lot easier than it sounds. A traditional Thanksgiving dinner is very special-diet friendly, with a few careful substitutions.

The basics of special diets for Thanksgiving

When you’re hosting anyone with a special diet for Thanksgiving, it is important to know the major limitations. Each one requires very different types of accommodations.

  • Vegetarian – in general, vegetarians do not eat meat. Milk, honey and other animal-based products, however, are usually fine.
  • Vegan – in general, a vegan does not eat any animal product. That means milk, butter, honey, cheese and anything that comes from an animal is off-limits.
  • Gluten-free – a gluten-free diet is one that cuts out all wheat, barley and rye — most often found in bread products.
  • Lactose-free – Lactose-free diets cut out milk and milk proteins. This includes butter and cheese.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes

The easiest way to create vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes is to substitute instead of replace. In most Thanksgiving recipes, such as green bean casserole and mashed potatoes, chicken broth can easily be replaced with vegetable or mushroom broth. As a main dish, try a spinach-feta spanikopeta, a vegetarian lasagna, or even ratatouille.

Vegan Thanksgiving recipes

Vegan Thanksgiving recipes take a bit more careful preparation but can be just as easy. Keep the mushroom or vegetable broth you would use for a vegetarian Thanksgiving recipe. Butter can be replaced with olive oil. Milk can be replaced with soy milk, almond milk or even coconut milk for extra creaminess. Since Thanksgiving is mostly vegetable-based anyway, Vegan Thanksgiving recipes are easy to accommodate.

Gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes

Gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes do require a bit of care. Gluten can be lurking in the most unexpected of places, such as your Campbell’s green bean casserole recipe. Most often used as a thickener and in desserts, white flour can be replaced with white rice flour or tapioca flour. For dessert, cutting out the crust doesn’t mean cutting out dessert. Bake your pumpkin pie as a custard – it is just as tasty and entirely gluten-free

Read more of our Thanksgiving Recipe articles

Cranberry relish and cranberry sauce recipes
Thanksgiving recipes for kids
Sweet potato pie and sweet potato casserole recipes
Turkey Brine recipe

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