The Brand-New Vegan’s Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner

by Sarah Von Alt|
November 16, 2017

For many new vegans, Thanksgiving dinner and other holiday meals can feel stressful or intimidating. But fear not, we’ve compiled some of our best advice for people who are about to celebrate their first vegan Thanksgiving:

• Call the Host in Advance

If you’re headed to a family member’s place this holiday, be sure to let the host know that you’re vegan. Most hosts will be happy to provide a tasty veggie dish for you. It’s probably a good idea to let the chef know that many common Thanksgiving dishes can be made vegan simply by switching out a few ingredients—for example, using olive oil in place of butter or veggie stock instead of an animal-based one. Then everyone can enjoy the dishes!

• Bring Something Delicious

It’s always a good idea to bring a main dish for yourself. You can certainly try one of the mouth watering vegan roasts on the market—you just heat them up in the oven. But if Tofurky is a little too much to wrap your head around, there are plenty of other hearty plant-based dishes that can take center stage. Here are a few of our favorites.

• Avoid Tricky Conversations

When our family finds out that eating vegan food is important to us and why, they are more likely to understand. Use “I statements” like “I saw a video about how animals are raised for food, and I was horrified. I just don’t want to support this cruelty.” Or “I found out it’s actually healthier to be vegan, and I really want to try eating more plant-based foods.”

But remember, while you’re eating is probably the worst time to explain to someone why you’re vegan, so if someone asks a question during dinner, offer to speak about it afterwards.

• You Don’t Need to Know Everything

You may get a lot of questions from family about your decision to become vegan, and it’s OK if you don’t have all the answers. Be honest, and speak from personal experience.

If someone asks about your vegan diet, explain honestly why you decided to eat differently. They don’t need to hear every reason to go vegan, and you certainly shouldn’t rattle off all the facts you’ve probably read in various articles online. Just keep it simple and trust that they will ask any additional questions they may have.

• Maintain Perspective

Thanksgiving is actually a pretty amazing time of year to be vegan. I mean, the holiday is pretty much all about food, and it’s no secret that vegans have a reputation for being foodies. It’s also an excellent opportunity to show friends and family that you don’t need to eat animals to have a decadent holiday feast!

Set a good example by having fun! Friends and family are much more likely to take veganism seriously when they see that you’re having a great time and enjoying fabulous food. And remember that some people will get on the defensive at the mere presence of a vegan. Don’t let them get to you, stay positive, and know that you’re making a huge difference.

While you may be the only vegan at your holiday celebration, don’t let that discourage you! There are literally millions of other vegans who are also enjoying a compassionate, plant-based celebration!


Click here for five ways you can stand up for turkeys this Thanksgiving!

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