How to Make Vegans Feel Welcome on Omnivore Thanksgiving

As a carnivore whose gourmet philosophy is “make something as delicious as possible, whatever the cost,” I got used to vegan dinner guests as something I needed to fix, and for that I bring my apologies. Vegan foodies might talk about how tasty soy bacon is, but as a meat-eating chef, I tend to think they used a different measuring stick to define tasty. I was selfishly annoyed that I had to “blunt” dishes and sacrifice taste for the sake of housing.

But I was wrong, my friends. I was SO wrong. A few changes are all that will make my vegan friends look forward to dinner at my house, and given everything we have to work with today, there is no sacrifice. Swearing. To make room at the Thanksgiving table for your vegan friends, examine your sides and decide if you can separate them – make half vegan and the other half – or just vegan the entire pan. It’s not as difficult as you might think; in most cases it is just a matter of replacing one or two items.

Include coconut oil

If there’s one ingredient that I’d like to grab onto earlier, it’s coconut oil. I just refused to admit the truth about its magnificence (probably because the oil is my reason for it), but now it is in my regular rotation. It is so aromatic that it has become my favorite dish for making popcorn, roasting vegetables, and even meats. Rub coconut oil with raw chicken skin before cooking and tell me I’m wrong. The vegetable side dishes you planned to cook with butter can be cooked with coconut oil for fantastically tasty and vegan-friendly results. Perhaps your stuffed pot can be sautéed with coconut oil instead of butter. Coconut oil does not have the baking properties of oil, but is ideal for cooking on the stove top.

Take vegetable broth to your heart

As always, people from Better than Bouillon came to our aid. Their dark, rich and not overly salty vegetable broth is so good that it is perfect as a substitute for light or dark meat broth. For soups, for toppings, for gravies, this is very important. I promise you won’t lose anything. I use it voluntarily all the time, although there is beef and chicken broth next to it in the refrigerator. It has a distinctly rich roasted vegetable flavor that everyone will love.

Bake the nuts

Adding nuts to cooking solves so many problems, and it can add protein to dishes that would otherwise not be available. Pecans can create a filling, dense crust in both sweet and savory tarts, and are more likely to taste better than a vegan crust recipe that attempts to mimic baked goods. Pistachios can replace breadcrumbs for a crispy breading, while soaked and blended cashews can create a creamy texture rather than cream.

Caramelize for Richness

A well-roasted root vegetable has a great and unique taste that cannot be replicated with meat. Its savory and sweet. Concentrates for dehydration or roasting give a truly intense flavor – try dehydrating plum or cherry halves; they are candy. If you feel like vegetables can’t shine on their own like a roast, you are wrong. Give them the same attention as the meat, and they will come to your defense.

Vegan cheese doesn’t suck

I am not a fan of meat dishes and soy products, and I have never come across a tofurka that I would not despise. Too often, they just remind me of food that they mimic poorly. I’d rather find ways to make the vegetables shine, but vegan cheese may be an exception. I especially love the suggestions at Trader Joe’s, and when whisked into something like mashed potatoes or as a topping on top of a soup or fried tomato, shredded vegan cheese is almost perfect.

Putting it all together

What would I serve for Thanksgiving to make my vegan guests feel welcome?



  • Plain sauteed or steamed vegetable side dishes with coconut oil instead of butter
  • An extra frying pan of vegan mashed potatoes with lots of fried garlic, coconut cream and a little vegan cheese, and stir fry.
  • Pumpkin pistachio crust. Just season well, chop one side and toast.

Main dish

  • A truly colorful, varied fried vegetable pie with a firm crust and a vegan yogurt and tapenade base. This one looks promising .
  • Mushroom Crowstad – I’ve always relied on this recipe , substituting vegan substitutes for butter and sour cream.


  • I would make sure I have at least one pumpkin or apple vegan pie with vegan vanilla ice cream. This is a great product to ask your vegan guests to contribute because vegan baked goods are finicky and they will most likely have a favorite recipe or baker they think will do their job perfectly. I have no doubt that there are legions of readers who can make suggestions, these are only mine.

Thanksgiving is our holiday and shouldn’t be about celebrating a bunch of lost white guys who love handing out smallpox blankets. It should be about building a family around you, accepting every stupid thing about them, and celebrating their grotesque overeating. Of all the wacky and ridiculous quirks you have in your chosen family, rejecting the most tasteless meat poultry ever put on a plate certainly can’t be the strangest, and it’s definitely easy to adjust to.


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