What do you serve a vegetarian on Thanksgiving?
It’s that time again, all the family is coming over to eat turkey but Billy’s new girlfriend is a vegetarian! Oh no! What do you serve her?
The truth is that the issue is really a non-issue. As a vegetarian for 15 years I can say that three times a day, seven days a week I am confronted with the issue of what to eat. I haven’t starved yet and I don’t intend to on Thanksgiving either.
Chances are your standard vegetarian guest is perfectly content with side dishes and they’d probably prefer that you didn’t make a fuss about their dietary choices. Simply skip the chicken broth in the mashed potatoes and they’ll be your friend for life. If you choose to prepare something there are plenty of frozen turkey substitutes in the freeezer section of any good health food store. But get there early because they go fast. Egg or soy based “chicken” products are another option. A Google search on vegetarian dishes should also return thousands of suitable recipes.
That said, keep in mind there are different types of vegetarians. A lacto-ovo vegetarian consumes eggs and dairy (that’s me.) A vegan does not consume any animal bi-products. If your guest is vegan they will not partake in any side with butter, eggs, milk, gelatin and perhaps even honey in the ingredients. Many pre-packaged foods like stuffing, bread and pies contain animal bi-products (<— complete list.) Read the ingredients carefully and try to make sure there is a thing or two on the table they can partake in. Offering the ingredient list to a vegan is a nice gesture as out of politeness they might skip a dish rather than ask for the information. For a vegan a simple baked potato or a veggie without butter is pretty fool-proof. Vegans are used to attending events where the food does not meet their self-impose dietary restrictions so their feelings likely won’t be hurt if they can’t gorge on a smorgasbord of dishes like the rest of us.
Lastly there are raw vegans, who only eat uncooked fruits, vegetables and nuts and of course many vegetarians opt for organic food without chemicals. If you have a raw vegan coming to your Thanksgiving dinner I suggest you prepare a simple large salad for them with goods from the organic produce section. Be sure to skip the cheese, croutons, cooked nuts and dressing.
Don’t forget to seat your vegetarian guest a distance from the turkey carcass!