I intended to do a whole blog about how to do a plant-based Thanksgiving. The thing is, I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do so I figured I would instead relate our Thanksgiving experience with hopes that you will consider it during your upcoming holidays.
My family is a little wacky about traveling during busy times (or maybe we are just smart), so we get together in Arizona the Sunday before Thanksgiving to celebrate the holiday. Our family and our friends the Whites get together on Thanksgiving to celebrate yet again. On our first gathering, my mom made a turkey and a very traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I told her I would bring my version of Thanksgiving protein which was Tofurkey made from scratch. Basically I made patties out of tempeh and tofu and a yummy vegan gravy to go on them. I had no idea how these would go over, and figured maybe I would be the only one eating them. The crazy thing was, they were a much bigger hit than the turkey. My sister's husband who is not plant-based eater said his favorite thing of the whole meal was my tufurkey patties!!! And he wasn't kissing up to me. He has no reason to do that! He just liked em! My mom, who made the turkey loved them too and didn't even eat the bird. I am pretty certain we could have gone with just them, and everyone would have been very happy.
Take two in the woods in Montecito… Because our friends who are not plant based were coming, I got a very small turkey and begrudging made it. Caught up in tradition, I didn't want to "spoil" their Thanksgiving. How could I not make turkey for people? If I thought ahead, I would've bought a cooked one, but that was an option since I hadn't. Just a year ago I could make meat dishes for other people and it didn't get to me, but I was seriously gagging as I prepped this poor naked bird and put it in the oven. I felt terrible about it. That was definitely it for me. I will never do it again. It's been funny how things have progressed for me because this plant based journey started from a health standpoint (my cholesterol was sky high and I felt like crap and couldn't lose the last 5 pounds that were sticking to me), but I've always been a huge animal lover. It's morphed from a health issue to animal issue and environmental issue very quickly. Listening to the conversations about the climate talks this week, and hearing nothing about raising cattle's contributing MORE to greenhouse gasses than ALL forms of transportation is maddening!
Anyway, we all sat down to our Thanksgiving dinner and I had made butternuts squash soup, herb roasted parsnips and carrots, baked sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans (that were supposed to have onions and almonds with them, but I ran out of time), the vegan gravy that I made for the travel adverse family Thanksgiving, and roasted delicata squash with maple dijon glaze. The dinner was amazing. So healthy, and so delicious. The turkey nearly went untouched. And that was without Tofurkey on the table. My dear friend Cathie, whose family have spent Thanksgiving with us for the better part of 15 years, and I took a hike the next day and we were talking about dinner and I told her that I made the turkey for them because I didn't want them not to have a turkey. She told me that she didn't really eat any of it, and that they totally didn't need it. It was all that other dishes that made it delicious. We decided that from now on we were going to go turkey less.
So in the end, at both gatherings every person there said they could have totally gone without the meat. Meat as the centerpiece is so entrenched in us, especially around the holidays and we think that this bird or roast, or goose, or pig, or whatever the heck you make that was once walking around, should be the focus. My two experiences proved that it doesn't need to be at all, and never will be again for us. Holidays aside, I only cook plant-based for my friends now. That has been the case for over a year now, and nobody's complaining. Although it is a running joke that everybody leaves dinner at my house and goes and gets In and Out, I am pretty sure it is not true! People are eating all of my food with a smile on their faces and asking for seconds, so I'm thinking it's probably not.
Here are some recipes to try over your holidays. Make them the centerpieces. People will respond to it, and love it!! And if they don't, at least In and Out is closed on Christmas. Butternust squash soup....Parsnips and carrots... maple delicata and brussels.... and homemade version of tofurkey and gravy. . Play around with some of your own recipes and share them!! The options are endless!! Here's one more.... stuff an almost cooked all the way acorn squash with some cooked quinoa, dried cherries and toasted walnuts and drizzle with a bit of earth balance and brown sugar and roast for another 15-20 minutes and you have a whole meal!!!! ENJOY YOUR PLANTS!!!! xo