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Taking it Mainstream: Veganizing Traditional Thanksgiving Foods

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For most families, Thanksgiving is all about tradition. Many recipes have been passed down through generations, and are prepared the same way year after year. So what happens when your favorite recipe contains meat or dairy? Why, you veganize it, of course!  Veganizing recipes is often relatively easy, and the flavor of the dish is not sacrificed. However, when serving guests it may be a good idea to do a practice run before the sit-down meal, especially if some or all of them are omnivorous. You want to impress them with your delicious vegan grub, not leave them to complain bitterly in the car-ride home about how your eccentric eating habits ruined the meal for everyone…not like that happened to me or anything.

Veganizing 101

Sub out butter for Earth Balance, or another vegan “butter” spread. Whether in stuffing or mashed potatoes, these faux butters are just as good as their dairyful cousin. Check out this recipe for Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, courtesy of

Sub out cheese for nutritional yeast or cashew cheese. In my cooking experience I have found I prefer nooch (nutritional yeast) or a home-made nut cheese over processed cheese alternatives. Try this recipe for vegan Mac N’ Cheese, from Chloe Coscarelli, starring nutritional yeast. Or if you want to give cashew “cheese” a go, I suggest Veganomicon’s Pumpkin Backed Ziti with Caramelized Onions and Sage Crumb Topping.

Sub out meat for mock meat, mushrooms, tempeh or tofu. Personally, I am not a faux meat fan. In dishes that call for meat, I often add chopped mushrooms, which have a meaty texture, or crumbled tempeh. Check out this “Ricotta”-Stuffed Delicata, by vegan chef Hannah Kaminsky.

Sub out egg for flax. In baking, I have found that I prefer a home-made flax egg substitute over a store bought one. Read the simple recipe, here.

Sub out milk for non-dairy milk. Depending on the recipe, the type of non-dairy milk you will use will differ. Unsweetened soy works well for cooking, whereas a creamy coconut will add decadence to desserts. Play around and find what works for you. Need some sweet inspiration? Browse this list of vegan baking projects from Huffington Post.

How have you veganized your favorite holiday recipes? Share your tips and secrets, please!

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About the Author

Zoe Eisenberg Zoe Eisenberg is an editor and freelance writer with work appearing in various print and online publications. She received her B.A in English and Creative Writing, and has a background in holistic health promotion. Zoe loves to cook, laugh, play and learn. She lives in Connecticut with her cat, Zucchini.

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