Pass the Tofurky?
It seems almost heresy to not include turkey in your Thanksgiving food wish list. Being a vegetarian at Thanksgiving isn't easy, especially when the main course on most everyone's Thanksgiving menu is a big old bird.
And what if your guests are vegetarians and you're not?
My neighbor, a meat eater and lover, didn't know what to do when she discovered that a few friends she invited for Thanksgiving were vegetarians. The nerve of them! When I said that they could eat the side dishes, she looked at me like I didn't know anything about a traditional Thanksgiving menu. Almost all of her sides are meat based, she explained. After all, the gravy contains meat giblets. The stuffing is cooked in the turkey cavity. The gravy for the mashed potatoes has a beef broth. And, of course, the main course is turkey. Turkey!
Even for a vegetarian, it's hard to resist the allure of turkey. Full disclosure—about a month ago, my husband and I stopped eating all meat (chicken, beef, pork, turkey). But when we made this decision, we had predetermined that Thanksgiving would be a day of immunity. We could revert to being carnivorous creatures for the feast and it wouldn't count. I mean, really, who can resist turkey? We couldn't eliminate it from our Thanksgiving menu. Maybe next year, but not yet.
But those with more will power than we possess should be allowed to stuff themselves on something that resembles a Thanksgiving feast.
Every traditional Thanksgiving side dish can be easily rendered meatless with some quick fixes. You can substitute meat broth with vegetable broth. You can cook the stuffing outside of the turkey—it still tastes great.
And for the main dish for your vegetarian friends? If you're serving a lot of side dishes—mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, beans and salad—that should be filling enough.
Many people feel that they need to serve a main dish like Tofurky, but Laura Chey, who is married to a vegetarian and is a nutritionist, acupuncturist and almost vegetarian thinks this is ridiculous.
"First and foremost, I always find it puzzling when vegetarians decide it's a good idea to come up with a veg form of meat. Like a mock chicken or mock beef—yuck," she says.
Every year she offers an extra dish especially prepared for the vegetarians in her life. This year it will be Jamie Oliver's Curry Rogan Josh, which has butternut squash, cauliflower, chick peas and Indian spices.
"It's a pretty simple recipe as Indian food goes—and it is great prepared a day or two ahead to let the flavors blend and mingle," she says. Plus, it provides all a healthy vegetarian needs—veggies with the squash and cauliflower and protein with the legumes."
The menu is limitless.
It's almost enough to consider skipping turkey altogether.