Survive Thanksgiving as Vegan/Veg/Gluten-Free

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Illustration by Katie Pearce

When Thanksgiving Day calls, turkeys cluck, potatos mash, and fountains of gravy flow. But what if your vegan diet, gluten intolerance, allergies or other dietary restrictions have you feeling left out at the Thanksgiving table?

Don’t fear: your alternative options are here! A traditional Thanksgiving dinner is heavy on carbs, gluten and meat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all delicious as hell, but it’s always nice to accommodate those who don’t eat meat or can’t eat gluten. If bathing in a waterfall of gravy is not your modus operandi, then that’s cool and we can explore other options.

My brother found out he was sensitive to gluten about six months ago and has been a complete drama queen about it ever since. After each of my Subway shifts this past summer, he claimed he couldn’t be in the same room as me for fear of residual flour. Although I suggested we kick him out of the family, my mom disagreed, so we’re having a gluten-free Thanksgiving. On top of this, my little sister is vegetarian, so a diet-restricted lifestyle is rubbing off on me. Even though I think natural selection should’ve taken my brother out, he’s here to stay, so here are a few gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options for all our brothers and sisters out there!

I recently found the article “44 Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes So Good You Won’t Miss the Turkey” that may be the holy grail of vegan Thanksgiving recipes—they make even my mouth water. Mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and garlic served over a toasted French baguette. Any kind of soup or stew with veggie stock and fresh green beans, potatoes, or onions. Roasted Brussels sprouts with garlic and avocado oil, spiced with every kind of seasoning. The options are pretty much endless.

Gluten-free options are even easier. It’s not hard to find substitutes for typical Thanksgiving sides and entrees in the gluten-free aisle of any grocery store. When making stuffing, substitute rice for bread and add cashews, apples, bacon, and garlic (I’m a garlic fiend). Replace gravy on potatoes with flavored butter (may I suggest garlic butter?). How about lemon chicken with roasted carrots, string beans and potatoes? Let the juices melt over the veggies in the oven, then pull the chicken apart for a mouth-watering experience.

For those who are vegan or vegetarian and want the illusion of meat, options include a new bleeding beet burger which actually tastes like meat, a roast made of squash and mushrooms, imitation turkey gravy, and Tofurkey. Two other options are field roast and jackfruit, which are available in most grocery stores. And Trader Joe’s breaded turkey-less stuffed roast with gravy looks bomb as hell.

When you have any kind of limitations on the food you can eat, it can be hard to have a harmonious Thanksgiving. But dietary restrictions don’t have to keep you from having a mouth-watering Thanksgiving dinner. The Internet provides limitless alternative options, and we can be thankful for the gluten-free and vegan options taking over Portland!

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