Sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet on a holiday that revolves around poultry doesn’t have to be a bummer. With the idea of potluck Thanksgiving dinners gaining more and more popularity in the United States (Friendsgiving, anyone?), this can be the perfect opportunity to expose your meat-eating friends to your plant-based lifestyle and provide some healthier alternatives to classic Thanksgiving staples.
Making your own gnocchi is a great way to show off your cooking chops without doing a ton of work. Swap out the potatoes for nutrient-rich pumpkin and replace the all-purpose flour with whole wheat and almond flour. This simple recipe from Kale Me Maybe uses ghee, a type of clarified butter, for the sage sauce along with garlic. Ghee is a staple of Ayurvedic medicine and is often made using low heat, allowing it to retain more of its natural health benefits.
Roasted Brussels sprouts
Perfect for larger groups looking for a traditional Thanksgiving vegetable side, roasted Brussels sprouts can be whipped up and topped with any number of vegan or vegetarian ingredients. Slice off the stems of the washed sprouts. Then, cut the sprouts in half, making sure to remove any brown leaves off before roasting them with salt, pepper and olive oil in the oven until they are crispy. Top with lemon zest and cheese for a vegetarian option, or toss with chopped pecans and cranberries for a hearty vegan dish.
Green bean casserole with crispy onions
This recipe from OhMyVeggies puts a healthy spin on the classic side dish (usually packed with sodium and processed ingredients, like condensed canned soup and bagged fried onion strings). Use fresh green beans and mushrooms along with soy milk or almond milk to veganize your green bean casserole.
Pomegranate spinach salad
Nothing says autumn quite like tangy pomegranate seeds, and this recipe from Cooking Classy combines them with fresh, sliced pears and nutrient-dense leafy spinach. Even better, the dressing uses apple cider vinegar (we suggest using the organic, unfiltered kind to get those gut-friendly enzymes). Vegetarians can make the recipe as-is, but vegans can swap the honey for agave and leave out the cheese.
Sliced carrots can be roasted in the oven, cooked in a slow cooker or sauteed on the stove with either butter or olive oil for a simple Thanksgiving side dish. Add salt and pepper to taste along with a touch of balsamic vinegar to give it an extra bite. No matter how you cook the dish, consider leaving the skins on the carrots instead of peeling them off — they are loaded with vitamins and minerals (just make sure to thoroughly wash the carrots).
These bite-sized treats are sure to draw a crowd of meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. Play with different ingredients depending on your audience, but make sure to top it all off with plenty of fresh herbs to compliment the savory mushroom caps. Everything about this vegan stuffed mushrooms recipe from Blissful Basil screams festive, from the diced walnuts to the sage to the cranberries.
Butternut squash soup
With a sweet, flavorful base made from coconut milk, butternut squash and curry powder, this soup is the perfect comfort food for any Thanksgiving potluck guest. Check out this recipe from the Minimalist Baker that incorporates cinnamon, maple syrup and chili garlic paste for an extra sweet-and-spicy kick.
Thanksgiving is incomplete without a side of delicious stuffing to soak up the rest of the meal, but it typically isn’t a vegetarian-friendly dish. This recipe from the Vegetarian Times calls for cubes of whole-grain or sprouted bread and a variety of herbs to get that same stuffing taste without the meat juices. Use a medley of mushrooms for an earthy flavor, throw in some chopped nuts for an extra crunch or add dried cranberries for a touch of sweetness. Swap the butter for olive oil if you’re sticking to a vegan recipe.
Wild rice pilaf
Another great side option for larger groups, this wild rice pilaf recipe from One Green Planet is packed with fiber and whole grains. With the added autumnal flavors of dried cranberries, baked butternut squash and fresh squeezed citrus fruits, this Thanksgiving side is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Spice up your classic creamed spinach recipe by swapping the traditional greens for vitamin-packed kale and using soaked raw cashews instead of cream and butter to make it vegan. This recipe from Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen uses shallots and garlic for a burst of fragrance and flavor and can be made in large batches for bigger potluck groups.
Vegan cauliflower risotto
With riced cauliflower becoming all the rage in vegetarian and vegan cooking these days, why not elevate the classic cauliflower rice into a hearty risotto? Check out this recipe from Foolproof Living that uses a unique combination of tahini, miso paste and nutritional yeast to give the dish a savory, cheesy flavor without any dairy.
Vegan spinach artichoke dip
This recipe from Nora Cooks combines spinach and fiber-rich artichoke hearts to make a hearty dip. The secret to this dish is in the cashew cream, which gives the dip its cheese-like consistency, and nutritional yeast, which keeps it satisfying without any dairy products. The best part? It only takes about 30 minutes to make.
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