New to a whole food plant-based diet and feeling a wee anxious about your first vegan Thanksgiving? If you only take away one piece of my holiday advice, let it be this: focus on the sides! Want your healthy vegan Thanksgiving to be really successful? Keep reading!
(And we've also got a FREE meal plan filled with delicious and easy vegan Thanksgiving recipes, made with whole food ingredients only!)
Before We Begin: Let MamaSezz Cook Your Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner!
Cooking all day is so last year! Order the MamaSezz Holiday Bundle and get ready-made and delicious whole food plant-based Thanksgiving staples, delivered fresh! We do the cooking, you focus on enjoying the season with friends and family. ORDER YOUR HOLIDAY BUNDLE BY 8 PM ET FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19TH FOR DELIVERY IN TIME FOR THANKSGIVING!
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There are so many elements to a “successful” Thanksgiving, WFPB or otherwise. First, there is the social piece. Second, having a plan is key to keep you from feeling overwhelmed come the big day. Third, it's all about the food: make it delightful! (Don't worry – I'll show you how in a minute here.)
Thanksgiving is the holiday infamous for arguing relatives, touchy subjects at the dinner table, and loads of pressure on the home cooks. Add in the extra pressure of being plant-based for the first time at the holidays are yeah, tensions could be high.
But they don't have to be!
There are three steps you can take to keeping it light and peaceful this year
3 Tips for a Peaceful Vegan Thanksgiving
1. Respect everyone's food choices
Remember not to shame anyone for their diet choices, as you hope they wouldn't shame you for yours. Thanksgiving is about putting your differences aside and coming together for a meal and giving thanks. If the family is giving you a hard time for not eating turkey, just remember those “I” statements!
(Side note: I know it can be really hurtful when friends and family aren't supportive of healthy lifestyle changes – and it may come bubbling to the surface at your first healthy vegan Thanksgiving. But often times, those close to us are upset by our new healthy choices because they're feeling defensive about their own lifestyle. So try your very best to remember, it's probably not really about you. Then take a deep breath!)
2. It's all about the vegan Thanksgiving side dishes
If you’re the one cooking for the family and no one else is plant-based, focus on making vegan Thanksgiving side dishes. Your omnivore friends and fam can enjoy turkey and your whole food plant-based sides – and you can load up on the sides for now. (They're the best part anyway, am I right?)
3. Bring vegan dishes to share if you're not hosting!
Not hosting this year? Make sure to bring a few plant-based side dishes that you know you can keep plant-based. WARNING: Make extra. For three years in a row I brought whole food plant-based Thanksgiving side dishes to my non-vegan family's Thanksgiving...and everyone ate all of my food not knowing it was vegan! They really enjoyed it, but I wasn’t able to have leftovers or go back for seconds. People tend to really enjoy vegan food until they find out it’s “vegan.” Go figure!
Staying calm means having a plan, and taking time for yourself. If you’re reading this section, you are most likely going to be head honcho in the kitchen this Thanksgiving. No small feat, especially if you're new to WFPB eating. Don’t fear! Here are three easy steps you can take to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed during your healthy vegan Thanksgiving.
1. Plan Out the Menu
And keep it simple! If you don’t have simple Thanksgiving vegan recipes in mind, check out our easy plant-based Thanksgiving menu suggestions!
2. Grocery Shop Early
Most ingredients (even healthy plant-based ones!) can be bought up to a week in advance! Potatoes, cranberries, stale bread, peas, onions, veggie broth, carrots, sweet potatoes. They all last until the big day if refrigerated. And if you wait until last minute chances are some of the items are your list will be sold out (especially with potential supply chain hiccups this 2021 holiday season), which is the ultimate holiday stressor. So find the calm and go early!
3. Don’t Do It All Yourself
You do not need to shoulder it all yourself! If you're hosting, delegate! This comes especially in handy when you have children or a spouse to fill in the gaps.
If you’re like me, and you become a bit — let’s just say “inflexible” or “particular” in the kitchen — then here are some tasks that won’t leave you hovering over your sous chefs while trying to get your healthy vegan Thanksgiving on that beautiful set holiday table:
- Set the table
- Chop vegetables
- Mash the potatoes
- Make a creative centerpiece
- Plate the finished food
- Pick out serving dishes and set them up on the table
- If you're having a turkey for meat-eating family members, ask them to brine, stuff, baste, and cook the turkey! Glad you got out of that one? I bet!
If you tend to get overwhelmed easily, especially at the holidays, try and keep it to your top four Thanksgiving recipes (and keep them simple if you can!) to prevent overwhelm. Hot tip: Here's how to veganize your favorite Thanksgiving recipes.
4. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Going plant-based can be great for your health and your life – but it can be difficult at first, especially when it comes to "giving up" old favorites. Know that you don't have to be 100 percent if you're not ready. If you slip into old holiday habits and end up adding turkey, buttery mashed potatoes, and the like to the your plate – please cut yourself some slack. You make the decision that best fits YOU. We say this at MamaSezz all the time but it's always true: progress, not perfection!
OK, now onto the really important part. Meal planning!
Need some WFPB inspiration for your healthy vegan Thanksgiving? We've got you covered. Get your FREE vegan Thanksgiving menu you can download here. Filled with delicious and simple whole food vegan Thanksgiving recipes to bring the holiday cheer.
- Have some family favorites in mind that you want to veganize? Use these simple WFPB swaps while planning your healthy vegan Thanksgiving menu.
- Want more than just sides? You can pretty much stuff any veggie! Here are our favorite whole food plant-based foods to stuff instead of turkey.
The most important thing is that you use the spices you grew up on to keep the flavor profile familiar and delicious. And if you’re not confident in the kitchen, then stick to a recipe. It makes things way easier on yourself! Or, let MamaSezz cook and order your MamaSezz Plant-Based Holiday Bundle now.
- Keep conversations upbeat and try not to take it personally if your family isn't super supportive of your new plant-based lifestyle.
- Prep and plan your vegan Thanksgiving in advance.
- If your whole crew isn't eating whole food plant-based like you, then focus on the sides.
- Don't be too hard on yourself, and delegate some of the cooking if you can.
- Use the MamaSezz FREE vegan Thanksgiving menu if you're not sure how to keep your holiday WFPB.
- Or let MamaSezz do the whole shebang for you and order the MamaSezz Holiday Bundle to get plant-based Thanksgiving favorites, delivered to your door fresh. Order by 8 pm ET Friday 11/19 for holiday delivery.
Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.