How To Do A Vegan Thanksgiving

Making a vegan Thanksgiving may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Here’s how to make a delicious spread of vegan Thanksgiving food that won’t leave anyone missing the turkey.
fall vegetables on display for thanksgiving


Everyone got their Thanksgiving menus totally planned out and feeling pumped about the situation? It’s okay, neither do we.

The holiday season can be stressful enough as it is – making this year a vegan Thanksgiving doesn’t have to push you over the edge. 

Here are some of our favorite ideas for vegan Thanksgiving food that will be enjoyed by all, followed by some of our go-to tips for easily swapping plant-based ingredients for traditional animal-derived ones.

Vegan Thanksgiving Snacks

Let’s be honest – nobody eats a giant breakfast and lunch on the day of Thanksgiving. This is one of those graze-all-day holidays where snack foods often make up the majority of the first half of the day. 

That doesn’t mean the whole kitchen has to be piled with chips, cookies, and candy all afternoon (but if you’re looking for some healthier plant-based alternatives to sweets for your family, check out this post).

Some of our favorite vegan Thanksgiving snacks include:

family table full of vegan thanksgiving food

Vegan Thanksgiving Entrees

If there’s one thing that everyone associated with the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s the turkey. So how do you replace the most popular plate on the table?

Here are some ideas:

Vegan Thanksgiving Side Dishes

We believe the side dishes on the Thanksgiving table are the humble underdogs of the meal, and deserve more attention!

Try a variety of these vegan Thanksgiving sides:

  • Mashed garlicky potatoes
  • Mashed cheesy cauliflower made with nutritional yeast
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Roasted veggies, like asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, beets, or zucchini
  • Stuffing, packed with chopped veggies and herbs
  • Fresh cranberry-orange sauce 
  • Biscuits and vegan gravy
  • Avocado salad
  • Cooked grains, like barley, quinoa, or farrow
  • Kale Caesar salad
  • Light soups, like butternut squash, pumpkin, or white bean
  • Three bean salad with a light vinegar dressing
  • Green bean casserole
  • Fall coleslaw
  • Zucchini and asparagus gratin
  • Jalapeno cornbread
  • Vegan potato salad

Vegan Thanksgiving Desserts

There’s always room for dessert, especially on Thanksgiving. The potential spread of sweets might even be larger when you make them plant-based.

These vegan Thanksgiving desserts will please everyone’s palate:

  • Pumpkin pie, using cornstarch or arrowroot powder to bind everything in place of eggs. You can even use canned coconut milk to make some easy non-dairy whipped cream. 
  • Chocolate mousse, using pitted dates, full-fat coconut milk, and cocoa as the base.
  • Carrot cake, full of all the traditional goodness like raisins, walnuts, and warm spices. The frosting can be made using vegan butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice.
  • Apple crisp, packed with fresh apples, an oat topping, and plenty of cinnamon. 
  • Cherry pie, using vegan butter to make a traditional pie crust and stuffing it with delicious cherries (or other fruit you prefer!).
thanksgiving sign give thanks and eat pie

Vegan Substitutes for Thanksgiving Recipes

Many of the above ideas are already plant-based, but some simple swaps are all that are needed for the rest. 

Instead of dairy milk, use non-dairy milk. We find that plain, unsweetened varieties provide the most neutral flavor and save on added sugar. There are a number of plant-based milks available that have a neutral taste and work well in Thanksgiving recipes, such as soy, almond, oat, cashew, and hemp. 

Make flax eggs, which can be used in baked goods. To replace one egg, combine 1 Tablespoon of ground flax seed with 2 Tablespoons of water and let your mixture sit in a small bowl for 5 minutes until it starts to gel. At this point, it’s ready to use!

Try a vegan butter. These are kept in the same cooler as the rest of the butter in many grocery stores, and can be used as a 1:1 replacement for dairy butter.

Use plant-based proteins. These can work really well in places you might normally use turkey or other meat. Beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, and seitan can all have a place in Thanksgiving dishes based on the desired taste and texture you need. Many of these proteins take on the tastes of things around them, whether you’re using herbs and seasonings, marinades, or sauces. 

A vegan Thanksgiving menu is far from bland, boring, or even limited! Vegan Thanksgiving food is easy, delicious, and may even be healthier than many traditional favorites. Try some of these vegan Thanksgiving recipes at this year’s holiday table.

If you liked this post, check out some of our other recent food and recipe articles:

Chime In: What’s your favorite plant-based holiday recipe? Or if you’re not sure yet, what’s the one you’re planning to make this year?

1 Comment

  1. Megan on November 18, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Love this post!

    One small tip I have from doing a lot of dairy free baking (we are mostly plant based and my son has a dairy allergy) is to use Miyoko’s vegan butter rather than Earth Balance for buttercreams. Miyoko’s is much less salty and makes heavenly buttercream. Earth Balance is great for in the cakes and cupcakes though; I just usually reduce or omit the added salt in the recipe. I hope to experiment more with eliminating the eggs from baking in the future.

    For main dishes at holidays, we also like the Field Roast celebration roasts, which we slice, top with sautéed veggies and wrap in puff pastry, like a Wellington, which we serve with mushroom gravy. Love all of your suggestions and may use for something new!

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