This summer, my brother converted to a diet free of animal products. If you know me at all, you know I tried to be vegan for awhile and I was a vegetarian for a long time. You also know that now, for personal reasons, I choose to eat fish/shellfish, eggs, and cheese (and sometimes poultry) and I focus on a more local, farm to table versus a meat-free diet. I am proud of my brother for his dedication, especially as a triathlete who must eat a lot more calories and protein than an average 20 year old. He is still learning how to adjust his diet in safe way to ensure that he does get enough of the right things as a college student on a budget. Luckily, he has a sister who is about 18 years ahead of him on the learning curve, so she can share her knowledge (and mail him care packages filled with Trader Joe’s goodies).
I haven’t cooked meat in so long (other than fish/shellfish), that I wouldn’t even know where to begin anymore. Over the years, I’ve learned how to substitute this for that or that for this. Baking is still a little more difficult, but I just experiment with recipes until I find something that works for me. This year I wanted my brother to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving with the rest of us. I also know how frustrating it can be to sit at a table full of meat eaters who want to nag, question, judge, and ridicule you about your diet. My mom and I split up the task of finding recipes we wanted to try and I adjusted them to be vegan friendly. The only real substitutions I ended up making in the recipes we wanted involved coconut milk, hearty vegetable stock, vegetable spread, and olive oil. I always substitute coconut milk for dairy when I cook, but will often use almond milk as an egg replacement. Earth Balance or olive oil and veggie stock is a staple in my kitchen. Piece of cake. Still full of flavor.
Dinner was a success. My mom and I found some great recipes and my substitutions worked out beautifully. My brother loved everything. Even the other boys (the carnivores) enjoyed almost everything we served up. We still made a turkey for the carnivores of the family, of course. It was a fresh, free range turkey and my mom’s boyfriend grilled it on a charcoal grill because the weather was so nice. There were only six of us, so we didn’t make eleven million dishes. Still, we had some leftovers. We didn’t do anything that fancy, but it was all delicious and we plan on making everything again.
- Grilled turkey and gravy
- Tofurkey and vegan gravy
- Two cranberry relishes, spiced applesauce, and relish tray
- Kale, carrot, and beet salad with toasted pine nuts (made with locally grown produce; dressing mixed for taste = balsamic, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.)
- New green bean casserole (Alterations: coconut milk and an extra Tbsp of flour instead of half and half; crimini mushrooms; veggie stock instead of chicken stock; toasted almonds instead of fried shallots.)
- Garlic lemon broccolini (No alterations other than doubling the recipe and using a lot more garlic! We also had a bowl of Parmesan Regianno slices for the non-Vegans to sprinkle on top.)
- Mushroom dressing/stuffing (This is family recipe and it’s probably similar to your family’s; we use lots of celery, mushrooms, garlic, and onion and we bake ours until crispy in the oven.)
- Maple pecan sweet potato casserole (Alterations: Earth Balance instead of butter; less brown sugar in the potato mixture; made extra topping and used a shallow casserole dish.)
- Vegan pumpkin pie (In my lifetime I have made 7 different vegan pumpkin pie recipes, but her filling recipe is my favorite thus far and I doubt I’ll try another recipe.)
- Martha Stewart’s pumpkin chocolate swirl brownies (No alterations. My brother had to go without. They are just too damn good and I didn’t want to mess with greatness.)
What did you have for Thanksgiving this year?