Ah, the annual panic that shows up in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving among vegetarians and the people preparing to host them for dinner. While other holidays can be just as (if not more) challenging for plant-powered eaters, there's something about Turkey-centric Thanksgiving that makes people get totally stressed out.
We're here to help!
Maybe it's your first vegetarian Thanksgiving. Maybe it's your tenth. Either way, here are some techniques you can use to feel empowered, nourished, and, well, thankful.
1. Have a mantra: It's one meal. Listen to us. Chances are, you're going to eat well. But if not? It's one meal (tell yourself the same thing when you get stuck sitting to Great Aunt Ida who wears half a bottle of perfume and wants to know about your "love life"). You can have the biggest veggie burger ever—with guacamole—tomorrow. No biggie!
2. Pack a protein. Most Thanksgiving tables have plenty of vegetables. Sweet potato casserole, string beans, pumpkin soup. But make that your meal and you may find yourself feeling less-than-satisfied. Something as simple as a baggie of almonds, pumpkin seeds, or roasted chickpeas in your pocket (eat before the meal, or sprinkle it on top of a salad, soup, or veggie side) can help bridge the protein gap.
3. Make a contribution. There are loads of vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes circulating the internet right now (The New York Times has been posting a collection each year leading up to the big day). There's nothing nicer you can do for your host than take some pressure off of them. Chances are, they're more worried about what you'll eat than you are.
4. Ask questions. Some dishes that look meat-free—stuffing, brussels sprouts—might actually be made with some meat, like sausage or bacon. We know you don't want to be a pain, but it couldn't hurt to double check—and nobody will mind helping you out.
5. Look aside. If you're one to get grossed out by meat, park yourself far away from the bird. Try your hardest not make gaggy sounds every time someone asks for a leg or a thigh. We're not saying you shouldn't stand up for your beliefs in general, or try to get people to understand your point of view. But on Thanksgiving, why not let family, friends, and togetherness take center stage (and instead of complaining, start mentally planning the awesome veggie feast you will put together when Thanksgiving is at YOUR house one day in the future).
6. Put the Thanks back in Thanksgiving. After all, it's not about gorging yourself—it's about appreciating all of the abundance and good things in our lives. Repeat that mantra ("It's only one meal"), look around the table, and count your blessings—including how fortunate you have the freedom and ability to be selective about the foods that are right for you.
Happy Thanksgiving, VegHeads!
What helps you get through a meal with a big bird on the middle of the table?