With Canadian Thanksgiving just behind us (October 12th) and American Thanksgiving in the near future (November 24th), shopping displays and airwaves are full of signs of the holidays: families, cheerful colors, warm clothes and most of all, traditional foods.
There’s a popular misconception among those unfamiliar with vegan diets that when you eliminate all the meat, butter, and gelatin, there couldn’t possibly be anything left on the Thanksgiving table. A google search for “raw vegan Thanksgiving” almost immediately calls up a skit by website “Funny or Die” – which I will not link here – that depicts, among other stereotypes, a vegan eating a sprig of waxy-looking berries, stems and all.
Actually, the real difficulty I encountered in researching raw vegan Thanksgiving recipes wasn’t a scarcity, but an overabundance. Scrolling through site after site of recipes and menus, I thought: with all of these experienced people sharing their advice, and with plenty of recipe compilations available, what more could I offer?
After perusing multiple sites, I started to realize that the one type of dish that could be tricky to find was a “star” or “centerpiece” dish. When non-vegetarians sometimes refer to Thanksgiving as “Turkey Day”, it’s clear that they have become focused on one dish to the exclusion of others. Of course, as vegans, we’re not bound to that limited and limiting way of thinking: “a meal is meat, and whatever is around the meat.” We recognize that all dishes are important parts of a full and nourishing diet. However, we might want to have a dish with that extra “Wow!” factor for guests or family members, or our own connection to traditions.
About Food provides an absolutely dizzying number of vegetarian main dish recipes, but not all of them are vegan, and most of the vegan recipes aren’t raw. Likewise, stores offer commercial vegan alternatives to turkey, but of course they are processed, and not raw. I’ve found ten spotlight-ready recipes from a variety of sites to share with you. For those who aren’t eating strictly raw, I’m also including links to the About Food recipe compilation, and a really handy tool for generating vegan loaf recipes… bringing the total up to a dozen.
The Main Dish – 10 Raw Thanksgiving Dinners
Note: All links are included, numbered, at the bottom of this article.
1) Body Enlightenment’s name is represented by the calming “be.” at the top of each page of its site. It offers a walnut-almond loaf flavored with savory miso as well as with the classic parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. It’s also accompanied by a cranberry-persimmon sauce. (1)
2) Addicted to Veggies has a brilliant idea to add a smoky flavor to their mushroom loaf: they use Lapsang souchong brewed tea! Lapsang souchong gets its distinctive aroma and flavor by being smoked over pinewood fires. (2)
3) “Turkey” Lettuce Cups are made with a base of crumbled walnuts flavored with sage, thyme, and soy sauce, and served in lettuce cups with cranberry/date relish. The recipe is easily adapted; it can be used to fill tacos or burritos, or endive leaves can be used instead of lettuce to make juicy tapas-style bites. (3)
4) 5) A couple of great recipes are found on this next website: Turkey Dressing and Nut Pate. Both of them are made with Braggs Liquid Aminos, which I’ve seen referred to as the “mayonnaise of the vegan world” because opinions on it are so polarized! You can purchase it at health food stores. Another option is to substitute tamari. Tamari is a fermented soybean sauce, but unlike the soy sauce most commonly found in supermarkets, it contains little or no wheat (check the label to make sure), so it is gluten-free. (4)
6) RobinsKey offers a seasoned stuffing loaf made with a variety of fresh vegetables, mushrooms, and nuts. (5)
7) This list of general holiday recipes includes a smoother “mock turkey” made with almonds, avocado, and celery. Pretty Smart Raw Food Ideas also offers this helpful hint: “because raw vegan sites have an unfortunate tendency to go inactive, if you find recipes that you like, I highly recommend that you copy and/or print them for future reference.” (6)
8) Ani Phyo – whose website is active and was recently updated (that tip on copying out recipes prompted me to check) (7) – submitted two recipes to Healthy Living: Sunflower seed burgers, light and nutty; and Sun Burgers, Rich with Vegetables. (8)
9) Caponata is a traditional Sicilian eggplant dish made with sweetened vinegar and capers. Traditionally it can be either a side dish or a main dish. The Raw Happy Kitchen’s version is so pretty that it deserves to be a centerpiece. (9)
10) Golubka Kitchen features absolutely darling turkey-shaped tartlets. They are filled with savory walnut-onion filling and topped with zesty mushroom and herb topping, and the whole thing finished off with a sweet-tart pomegranate-fig sauce. The crust for the tartlets is adapted from a separate recipe, for Portobello mushroom and curried spinach quiche… hey, the quiche would also make a beautiful centerpiece… (10)
The Main Dish: Cooked Options
The Magical Loaf Studio isn’t raw, but it’s too impressive not to share. It presents the basic components of a vegan loaf in categories — protein, herbs and seasonings, binder, etc. – and lets you choose among multiple options for each category. By the end you have a fully-formed recipe. The writer demurs that she can’t vouch for every possible combination in the Magical Loaf Studio, as she hasn’t tried them all – so use your best judgment as you try out different combination to find your favorite. (11)
And finally, as I mentioned before, About Food has a cornucopia of vegetarian main dish recipes, and so I can’t resist sharing their site. (12)
Thanksgiving Menu Demo Videos
If you prefer watching cooking demos to reading recipes, here are a few to note especially for Thanksgiving:
Video: A Last Minute Raw Vegan Thanksgiving
Dara Dubinet shows off a “last-minute” raw vegan Thanksgiving feast she created in about a day and a half. Her varied menu includes nut loaf, cranberry relish, kale salad with pine nuts and cranberries, macadamia French onion dip with crudités and crackers, “popcorn” cauliflower, and chocolates… as well as a few cooked items, like steamed sweet potatoes.
Video: My FullyRaw Thanksgiving Dinner!
FullyRawKristina provides her own website of Thanksgiving recipes, (13), and shows off the colorful results in this video: stuffing, persimmon salsa, pumpkin gazpacho, avocados with pomegranate seeds, a sweet drink, and pumpkin pie.
Video: What We Ate On Thanksgiving
Happy Healthy Vegan’s 2013 Thanksgiving menu is brought to life in this video: it includes fully raw dishes vegetable stuffing, apple sauce, cranberry relish, and “turkey” pate with walnuts, mushrooms, squash; as well as cooked sweet potato soup and persimmon pudding.
There are tons of raw vegan recipes online for all the “fixings” – that is, for any dish you could hope to have as part of your Thanksgiving dinner! I hope that condensing these few recipes in one spot will help you to find some ideas that may have gone unseen otherwise. And to my Canadian readers: sorry to offer this after your holiday has passed! But these will work for Christmas time too!