This is my first Thanksgiving as a vegan and since my wife and I travel full-time, we won’t be near family. While I’d love to see family, it does take the pressure off of dealing with the many non-vegan dishes served on this very strange holiday.
I only call Thanksgiving strange because we gorge ourselves until we feel sick in celebration. That has always seemed a bit strange to me, especially once I got past my teen years and couldn’t eat 3 heaping plates of food so easily.
I am learning, from plenty of online research, a vegan Thanksgiving is far different. Many vegans don’t gorge themselves, take five naps and watch three full football games. There’s more to this holiday than turkey and football, but I had to open my mind up to the experiences online.
Vegan Thanksgiving for Me
I love to cook and I prefer to try new recipes often. My vegan Thanksgiving will include plenty of new vegan Thanksgiving recipes I will be trying for the very first time. I want it to be a fun day with delicious food, so I have to do something different.
Along with the recipes I will be cooking for myself, I will also be making the traditional turkey for my wife, along with a few other non-vegan dishes. She’s not vegan, so I am cooking two Thanksgiving feasts!
I don’t have much issue letting go of typical traditions on the holidays. Turkey won’t tempt me and I haven’t watched a full NFL game, on purpose, for almost two years. I grew up with the traditional turkey meal, football and family type of Thanksgiving. However, I’ve also have many non-traditional holidays since I have rarely lived in the same city as my parents and the majority of my family.
Sometimes, it’s fun to start your own traditions anyway. My wife and I usually go to the movies on Thanksgiving night, as that has become a small tradition of ours. This year, maybe I will be starting a few new traditions with some of the dishes I will be cooking.
Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes I will be Trying
I have picked a few recipes, which I plan to give a try this year. They include:
- Baked Sweet Potatoes with Ginger and Honey
- Butternut Squash Bisque
- Fluffy Mashed Potatoes and Savory Mushroom Gravy
- Maple Glazed Tempeh, Squash, and Brussel Sprouts
- Vegan Green Bean Casserole – This is my own recipe
I think these recipes will not only fill my plate for lunch and dinner, but will also leave me with some excellent leftovers for the weekend. If any of them are a huge hit, maybe they will sneak over onto my wife’s plate and we will have a new dish we can serve every year no matter where we are.
This will also give me a good test run as I will need to come up with at least some type of dish for Christmas for myself. We will be home for Christmas and it’s a very non-vegan type of meal (except for the salad). Usually, my dad makes lasagna, so I may do a vegan version, if I can find a good recipe.
Holidays are Not Days Off from Plant-Based Eating
Usually, those trying a new type of diet or eating lifestyle will struggle throughout the holidays. They end up with temptation after temptation as they deal with plenty of different old favorites popping up on the dinner table. Whether it’s a tradition of going out to some specific restaurant or some dish made by parents, it’s a difficult time when you’re trying to change the way you eat.
Holiday cookies, candies and sweets are everywhere. Last year, I quit sugar after the holidays, so this will be my first year without sugar, as well.It's a hard time of year for those looking to eat a plant-based diet Click To Tweet
It’s a hard time of year for those looking to eat a plant-based diet, unless your entire family does this. Mixing plant-based eaters with traditional western diet eaters isn’t always the easiest thing to do.
However, there’s usually something you can munch on and there are a few tricks you can use to ensure you don’t break your new habits.
Contribute to the Meal
If possible, bring a dish you make. This can be a side, complimentary entree or even a dessert. No matter what it is, you’ll know at least one thing was made to fit your plant-based or vegan diet for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Eat Before you Go
You certainly don’t want to be rude and not eat at the party or dinner, but if you eat before you go, you’ll be less tempted to eat things not included on your new plant-based or vegan diet. You can always fill your plate with veggies and other things you know fit your diet. Eating before you go will keep you from being hungry if the only vegan option is a salad.
Be Upfront with Family
While the initial reaction may not be great, telling your family you’re a vegan will prepare them for the inevitable. If you just show up and make it all about why you won’t eat certain things it could make things harder on you.
You don’t want to come off as a jerk, either, so tell your family ahead of time that you’re a vegan or you eat a plant-based diet. They may surprise you by switching things up a bit to include better greens in the salad, a dish specifically for vegans or something else.
Remain Casual and Don’t Draw Attention
I remember last year at Thanksgiving my wife and I were trying the OMG Diet (boy how things have changed). It was a pretty strict diet, but very much the opposite of eating vegan.
We went to Thanksgiving with my family and just ate what fit the diet without going overboard. Since we didn’t draw attention to ourselves nobody really even asked us about it. You don’t have to explain yourself to others unless you want to. By keeping things casual, you may not even have to field a single question.
Don’t Give Yourself a BreakUsually, I would tell you to give yourself a break and understand you'll have bad days. Click To Tweet
Usually, I would tell you to give yourself a break and understand you’ll have bad days. However, when it comes to holidays, you have to set the president now. If you give in and eat foods not on your eating lifestyle plan, you’ll end up struggling with holidays every single year.
Put things in place this year by sticking to it during the holidays. It’s just a few meals and before you know it, the holidays will be over and everybody will be on a diet for at least a week or two as the New Year starts.
Make it About More than Food
The holidays aren’t so easy for some, even if it’s not about food. Make the holidays about more than what modern society makes them about this year. In the United States, we allow our holidays to revolve around food, which isn’t the problem, but can become a problem.
Our modern society will make the holidays very selfish if you allow it to. Instead of spending all your time gorging, napping and watching football, volunteer to help in the community. Give back by volunteering or inviting the less fortunate to dine with you. Anything you can do to give back to others will help you change your holiday traditions.Buy one or two gifts per person and really scale down the holiday presents. Click To Tweet
When Christmas rolls around, take the tradition of spending thousands on a pile of things and use that money to help those in need. Buy one or two gifts per person and really scale down the holiday presents. Giving to the less fortunate will help bring you joy and will allow you to set new traditions for you and your children.
Taking the focus away from food by doing other things and creating new traditions can help you from being tempted. The easiest time to cheat is when you’re bored or stressed. Avoid these emotions by keeping busy helping others.
There are several great ways to create new traditions and you truly can enjoy a vegan Thanksgiving. I am looking forward to creating new dishes and seeing how they turn out this year. It’s only year one and it takes many years to create a tradition. However, it has to start somewhere. Happy Thanksgiving to Everybody and I hope you stick to your eating goals throughout the holidays!