25 Reasons to Host a Vegan Thanksgiving This Year! + Recipes

Is this you? Pondering the upcoming holiday. Tapping your finger to your lips, your mind swirling with all the plans, people and food yet to coordinate this year? Or maybe your holiday looks pretty easy in terms of details, but the actual food part is still a big question mark.

Well maybe you start browsing the internet, Pinterest boards, blogs and YouTube. And you start to see a whole bunch of yummy #vegan recipes scattered around. And suddenly you think, hmmm, this vegan thing, sounds interesting. I would like to try that.

Well that is certainly where my vegan journey began back in 2000. Pondering the recipes and taking a few test drives of vegan feasts around the holidays. And I have never looked back. This year I will be happily enjoying my 14th turkey-free "turkey day." And if I can do it, anyone can do it. I am just like you. I love good food, friends, family .. and did I mention I love amazing food? Back when it was a cool word to use, (or was it ever?) I happily called myself a "foodie." So I use my foodie-sensibilities with each recipe I create, serve and most importantly, eat. So Thanksgiving, it needs to be delicious. I get it.

But even beyond the amazing food, there is a long list of reasons why a vegan Thanksgiving is awesome.

My challenge to you: host a vegan Thanksgiving in your home this year. Twinkly golden lights, wine glasses filled to the brim, the intoxicating aroma of sweet potatoes, chestnut stuffing and pumpkin pie dancing in the air. And instead of a giant sad Turkey in the center of your table, something else settles in. Maybe a dreamy vegan entree, maybe a vibrant satsuma and pomegranate centerpiece fruit bowl, maybe a lovely vase of flowers or maybe just more and more vegan food. A meat-free, plant-based Thanksgiving is easier than ever! And if you are still not convinced, I have a few more reasons for you to go vegan for your family feast. Here are my 25 Reasons to Host a Vegan Thanksgiving This Year!.. (and details on a $500 giveaway!)

Kathy's 25 Healthy, Happy, Delicious Reasons to Host a Vegan Thanksgiving This Year:

1. Vegan Pumpkin Pie with coconut whip on top. Reason enough, right here. I will not blame you if you just want to skip dinner and grab a slice. Vegan pumpkin pie is just as good, if not better, than the original dairy and egg-infused versions. And there are quite a few ways to spin it: gingersnap crust, no-bake options, cashew cream blended in, walnuts, varieties of pumpkin. And even one recipe with only four ingredients. Get my favorite recipes, and coconut whip to top things off.

* 4-Ingredient Pumpkin Pie
* Kathy's 5-Ingredient Pumpkin Pie with a Gingersnap Crust and Cashew Edges
* Maple Bliss Pumpkin Pie (love this one with so much maple flavor!)
* Hubbard Pumpkin Pie
* No-Bake Walnut Pumpkin Pie
* Cheesecake Pumpkin Pie
* Coconut Whip How-To
* Crustless Pumpkin Pie with apple blended in! Low sugar too.

And that fresh coconut whip, a must!

2. Happy Turkeys. Turkeys are incredibly beautiful creatures, with loads of curiosity and personality. They truly deserve to live a happy life. Those long and lovely feathers are just the outside of their beauty. And these beautiful birds are worth celebrating rather than eating on Thanksgiving. Don't believe me? Watch a few of Karen Dawn's turkeys in action to see for yourself.

3. Gardein Holiday Roast. "But I need a centerpiece!" OK, here you go. This. I recently taste-tested this super easy vegan holiday entree and I was blown away by the yummy flavor.

Here is the deal: you pull the Holiday Roast box from the freezer, slide the frozen roast out of the box, unwrap it and plop it in a baking dish, then you turn your oven to 400 degrees, pop this thing in the oven and get some "you" time. For those fuss-free 60-75 minutes you can flit through the house, go sing, dance, drink wine, watch Netflix, then when the buzzer dings you twirl back into the kitchen and pull it out of the oven as you notice how holiday-dreamy your entire kitchen, actually entire house, smells. Then just start slicing! Gravy optional. Done and done.

So if you think a vegan entree, aka Turkey replacement, is too much trouble or not delicious, seriously hop on over to a store that sells Gardein products and buy this amazing roast.

PS. I love this roast so much I asked Gardein to help me give one lucky person their best vegan Thanksgiving ever, and they happily sponsored the prize for a giveaway I am running over on Enter today and you may win a $500 VISA gift card, and a holiday roast shipped to your doorstep. (USA only)

4. Kickstart Wellness! If you are looking to get healthy in 2015 and have a wellness-infused holiday season, having a plant-based Thanksgiving is the perfect way to kickstart wellness! Healthy plant-based holidays keep your diet on track. Whole foods, loads of plants and nutrient dense foods. Eating vegan, you end up eating loads of veggies, whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and more. A Thanksgiving spent overindulging in dairy, high fat foods, animal products will most likely leave you feeling horrible the next day.

Why wait until January 1st to start a healthy eating resolution? Kick off clean plant-based eating on Thanksgiving Day by loading up on lovable, feel-good foods. Sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cranberries, green beans, whole grains, citrus, leafy greens, nuts, legumes and more. It is all waiting for you at your vegan table.

5. Sweet Potatoes. Glorious golden sweet potatoes are one of the best parts of any holiday feast. Well those yummy golden rounds are easily veganized. You can even add marshmallows from Sweet & Sara by the amazing Sara Sohn, or Dandies .. if you like to dress up your potatoes with sweet dreaminess. Another idea: add swoon-worthy coconut oil and coconut sugar on top, along with cinnamon and nutmeg. Y-u-m. Get my recipes:

* Citrus-Maple-Spiced Holiday Sweet Potato Rounds
* Coconut Oil Roasted Sweet Potatoes
* Sweet Potato Hash

6. A Taste of Vegan For All! Even Grandma! Hosting a vegan Thanksgiving may seen scary if you are serving guests that are not used to eating vegan meals. But this is the perfect opportunity to give everyone something to talk about! It is fun to try vegan spins on your favorite family recipes, and let all your family members be able to walk out the door saying, "Vegan eating? Yup, I did that!" Who knows, they just may (probably will) be so impressed by the cuisine that they get inspired to add a few, or a few more, vegan meals to their life. Who knows, maybe Grandma's inner-vegan will be unleashed for all to see. Don't be shy about inviting others to join your feast. Offer to give everyone's Thanksgiving a plant-based makeover this year!

7. Stuffing. Vegan Stuffing. Thanks to vegan buttery spreads like Earth Balance, a bit of poulty seasoning (yes its vegan despite the name) and all the goodness of bread, broth and veggies, you can make amazing stuffing that is vegan. Cook it on the stovetop, then bake it in the oven for fluffy-amazing carb-deliciousness. Because what is thanksgiving without stuffing? A few recipes:

* Vegan Stuffing: three recipes
* Apple Sage "Sausage" Mushroom Stuffing

8. Vegan Entrees. Oh goodness, there are indeed so many delicious options out there. Even beyond the clichè, but lovable, Tofurky. Here are my faves..

Ginger-Apple Fall-Spiced Tofu and Apple Cubes
Smoky Maple Tempeh Traingles over Curried Carrot Slaw - add some cranberries or pomegranate seeds to give it a holiday twinkle
Baked Farro with Butternut Squash and Mushrooms - add in some chestnuts or sage
Smashed Sweet Potato Fritters (because you can never have too many yams, yes?)
Tofu Steaks with citrus and rosemary
Toasty Pumpkin Chickpea Fritters
Holiday Citrus Rice-Stuffed Squash
Sweet Potato Pockets (my traditional must-make recipe!!)
Golden Orchard Quinoa Platter + roasted pumpkin + pecans
BBQ Hasselback Tofu
Vegan Mac/Cheez for Thanksgiving? Go for it!
Pumpkin Apple Harvest Rice
Homemade Smoked Maple Seitan
Simple Sticky Blackened Tempeh Logs
One-Plate Comfort Food Vegan Meal - mac/cheez, rice/beans veggies too.
Easy Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers .. go all un-traditional on your festivities!
kid-friendly: Sweet Potato Glow Spirals

9. Warm Fuzzies. Hosting a cruelty-free, vegan feast is sure to give you warm fuzzies. Nothing was harmed in the making of your feast, you saved a fluffy-feathered sweet turkey. You made a difference. You rock. You rule. You deserve a gold-plated pumpkin as a trophy for being so gosh darn amazing. All the warm fuzzies in the world will come streaming your way because you earned them.

10. Save Money! Guess what. Those giant turkeys at the store? They are not cheap. But the Holiday Roast I mentioned above that serves up to 8 people is just $19.99, retail. And if you choose one of my other veggie centerpiece options like beans, tempeh or tofu, you are also saving some money. And you could even completely forgo a "centerpiece" item completely and just do all amazing "sides" .. because lets be honest, the sides are the best part anyways! (ps. I just googled and found that Whole Foods sells a "prepared turkey" for $80. $80. So there you go.)

11. Mashed Potatoes. Those fluffy-amazing mounds of bliss can be vegan and totally amazing. Here is my favorite mashed potatoes recipe: three ways.

12. Bread! I do not know about you, but I love stashing a few warm-from-the-oven rolls on the side of my plate on Thanksgiving. And yes, vegan rolls are easy to find. You could even make your own rolls or biscuits. Try my Pumpkin Seed Spelt Brown Bread Loaf. Or "jalapeño-cheddar" biscuits!

13. Cranberries. Cranberry sauce is amazing stuff that dreams are made of. That tangy-sweet flavor and nutritional powerhouse goodness. Cranberries are rich in antioxidants, fiber and flavor. So load up on homemade cranberry sauce.

Or my new fave.. Wild Blueberry Cranberry Sauce. Tastes like pie.

14. Simplify Things. One of my favorite parts about the Thanksgiving meal I create every year in our house is that we do not over indulge in a ba-zillion different dishes. We choose our favorites and stop there. It just feels better, we have less leftovers that may or may not get eaten, and we are more likely to not stuff ourselves on the "big day."

Thanksgiving does not have to be a day of excess. It can easily be a day of simplicity and gratitude for a few favorite dishes at your table. Think about it, what do you love most at Thanksgiving? Make those extra special and forget the rest. My faves: sweet potatoes, stuffing, a festive green salad or veggie, cranberry sauce, rolls and a protein side or a fun pre-made vegan Holiday Roast, Celebration Loaf or Tofurky.

14.5 Did I mention the vegan pumpkin pie? Maple Bliss..

15. Thanksgiving Morning. The pre-feast vegan options are pretty fantastic. Try not to starve yourself all day for one big meal, but rather eat normally and not stress out your digestive system. Thanksgiving Day breakfast with yummy lattes and teas and some goodies is a winner. My recipe ideas..

* Gingerbread Muffins
* Orange-Spice Pumpkin Waffles, gluten-free
* Cinnamon Citrus French Toast, grilled option!
* Honeycrisp Banana Bread with nut butter drizzle
* Pumpkin Spice Scones with Vanilla Bean Frosting
* Pecan Pie Oatmeal Cookies
* Fall Oatmeal Power Bowl
* You can never go wrong with a creamy sweet Green Smoothie

16. Brussel Sprouts. Weird reason, right? Well you know you have grown to love brussel sprouts as an adult eater, yes? So embrace that fact! Veggies are perfect for dressing up at your holiday feast. This amazing dish uses cranberry sauce and brussel sprouts. Delicious!

17. In a Pumpkin! Or Squash. Have you spotted the trend of cooking and serving dishes in a pumpkin or squash. Or are they the same thing since the canned pumpkin people seem to think so. Well it is a fun trend to try. Baked pumpkins are both pretty and delicious. And loaded with nutrients like vitamin A and fiber. Try this recipe!

18. Festive Drinks! Serve up some amazing vegan cocktails and beverages at your feast. My faves: Pom-secco cocktails made from freshly pressed pomegranate juice and prosecco. And my apple-ginger shots, a pre-meal sip to cleanse the palate and entice the taste buds!

19. Dip and Dance! Thanksgiving gone vegan can be so much fun. It is a plant-based party from the moment your dinner guests walk in the door. You can whip up a number of fun and fancy (or not so fancy) appetizers for folks to nibble on pre-meal. Here are a few of my favorites..

* Roasted Cauliflower Pumpkin Dip (love!)
* Peppercorn Crusted Vegan Lentil Patè
* Citrus Butternut Dip
* Pumpkin Hummus for dipping
* Easy Butternut Squash Sage Dip
* Beet Walnut Pink Dip
* Spreadable Baked Cashew Cheese
* Warm Curried Lentil Dip
* Warm Pumpkin Spice Cashew Cheese Dip
* Tiny Toasted Pumpkin Chickpea Fritters

20. Kids Love It! You might think that picky-eater kids will scowl at "vegan food" but I promise you they will most likely not even know the difference in all the sides. The turkey is something that parents will want to chat about in their own way, but the sides are all so easy to veganize using my recipes and tips.

And no, you do not even have to tell them about the vegan part if you are worried of backlash. But if you are able to explain that this is a feast made 100% from plants, I have found that most kids are incredibly excited and curious to try just about everything. And if you have some animal loving kids, you can even let them know that they are celebrating the lives of turkeys at the feast, in place of eating them. Each year, my family adopts a turkey from Farm Sanctuary, and we display our turkey's photo for all to see and celebrate. Kids are natural animal lovers, so if you can connect the feast to their hearts, you can help nurture that natural compassion inside them.

And as always, my best tip is to get kids in on the fun! Invite them into the kitchen to cook.

And if all else fails, make then a Silly Sweet Potato Kids Pizza

21. Warm Mugs. One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is all the chances to stop, grab a warm beverage in a mug and really ponder the moment. Hopefully with my vegan recipe ideas in this post you will be able to easily craft a vegan meal so that you have more time to spend with your loved ones this holiday. A few of my favorite warm mugs, like cocoa, tea and mulled wine, in this post.

22. All The Cool Kids Are Doing it. OK, so this is a little silly, but seriously, the vegan movement continues to grow and build momentum because people are loving this lifestyle! Celebs, business heavyweights and politicians are embracing a vegan diet. So join in the fun this Thanksgiving and see what all the buzz is about.

23. Amazing Veggies. Vegans know how to make veggies taste amazing! Vegetables are not just side-show ingredients, they can easily be the main event. Take kale. Once a boring dark leafy green, it is now a recipe superstar! Raw kale salads rule the world. So this Thanksgiving, grab some veggies and find a vegan recipe to make them sing. You can browse my recipe index under salads and vegetables or head on over to to browse endless options using the search bar.

A few of my faves:
* Maple Glazed Roasted Carrots
* Ginger Roasted Beets
* Curried Sweet Carrot Slaw
* Sugar Snap Pea Maple Nut Salad
* Golden Fennel Salad (fennel is great for digestion)

24. Happy Planet. Vegan meals are quite simply put, kinder to this beautiful planet we call home. Here is a cute little video to inspire from VEG Society..

25. Vegan Leftovers! Of course you can make way-too-much food so that you can have a fridge filled with leftovers. Create your own vegan sandwiches and wraps in the days after your feast. Two of my faves..

* Sweet 'n Sassy Sweet Potato Pockets
* ZingBerry Wrap

Happy Vegan Holidays!

Enter my giveaway on FindingVegan..

And lets end this feast/post the traditional way guys, a la pie.
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