A new kind of Thanksgiving

My favorite vegan and vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes


Dahlia Herman

A vegetarian main dish for a Thanksgiving full of all the fall flavors. Vegetarian and vegan dishes can make for a delicious thanksgiving meal and can have just the amount of flavor as a traditional meat dish.

Dahlia Herman

For all who celebrate, Thanksgiving is a time to come together, be with family and eat good food. However, many of the main Thanksgiving dishes tend to have meat as a center dish, such as turkey, stuffing, gravy, or are full of animal products such as dairy or eggs. As a vegetarian myself and part of a vegetarian family I have found many alternatives to these classic foods over the years that are just as tasty, if not more. 


Before I share my mouth watering recipes, I have some terminology to help you make sure your dietary needs are met. If a recipe has a VEG, this means it is vegetarian and contains no meat. If a recipe has a V it means it’s vegan and contains no animal products of any kind, this includes meat, dairy, eggs and honey. If the recipe says DF then it is dairy free and GF it contains no gluten. Last of all, if there is an NF, it contains no nuts. Now grab your forks and knives, because I’m ready to dig in.


Pumpkin Pie V, VEG, GF, DF

(Can be made nut free by using an alternative crust recipe)

Recipe I used: Vegan Pumpkin Pie


One of my favorite Thanksgiving desserts is pumpkin pie. It brings all of fall’s comforting flavors into one bite. This recipe I tried was not only vegan but gluten free too. Now I have to say I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to my desserts, so I had high standards for this pie. Besides some small details that I’ll get to further on, it did not disappoint. 

The making: The making of the pie was simple for the most part, besides the crust which threw me for a bit of a loop. The crust is made out of pecans and coconut oil, and because the coconut oil was melted, the consistency was quite runny which was hard to form a crust out of. The recipe also called for putting parchment paper and a pie weight/beans on top of the crust which is something I’ve never done before, but I caught on quickly. There also just didn’t seem to be enough crust for the sides of the pie, but that could also be because I didn’t have enough pecans. Once the crust was baking in the oven I moved on to the pie filling which was actually quite simple, and easy to concoct. When the filling was done, I poured it over the crust and into the oven it went. 

Tasting time: The color of the pie was a little dark when it came out of the oven, and the filling was a little too runny because I forgot to let it set, so I was a little skeptical at first. However, digging my spoon in brought back all the memories. To be honest, I couldn’t taste a difference between this pie and a regular pie. It was delicious. Even the crust, though a different consistency than a typical crust, blended quite smoothly with the filling. 

Overall thoughts and tips: I actually quite enjoyed this pie and it is a great alternative for my gluten free and vegan friends out there. Top it off with some coconut whipped cream and you’re down for one delicious dessert. Besides a little learning curve it was quite simple to make. Here are some tips if you decide to try it out: make sure you fully let it cool, before trying, as it will thicken and double the crust recipe if you want to have enough to cover all of the sides.

Stuffed butternut squash with wild rice V, VEG, NF, GF, DF

The recipe I used: Vegan wild rice stuffed squash


This butternut squash recipe is by far my favorite. It’s not only a comfort food but also very nutritious. Stuffing this squash with wild rice is also a beautiful way to honor the native people of our land whose homes were stolen on the day many celebrate. Now the directions may not be as simple as that of some of the other recipes, but for me, it’s all worth it.

The making: The first step in the process is your squash, I scooped out all the gunk and set that to boil while getting started on my rice. You can cook your rice with an instant pot or stovetop (which I used) and just cook to the package’s directions. While this was cooking I concocted the rest of the filling mixture and combined it with my rice once it was finished. Once the squash was done I filled all of the cavities with the mixture and drizzled with some olive oil. So yum!

The taste: With my first spoonful the squash and filling just blended so well together. I loved the taste of the wild rice. It just brought all the vibrant flavors in one bite. The recipe was also a little more light, unlike the other dishes which I thoroughly enjoyed. In terms of taste, this was my favorite recipe yet.

Overall thoughts and tips: Although this recipe was a little more time consuming, the light but comforting flavors really drew me in. The recipe is also very colorful and beautiful, a perfect dish that impresses your family and friends while also letting everyone with every dietary need dig in. I don’t have any tips besides that the recipe can be made very customizable. You can add cheese or rosemary on as garnish, or some of your favorite nuts and toppings.


Lentil loaf V, VEG, GF, NF, DF

The recipe I used: Vegetable lentil loaf


This lentil loaf is a great alternative to a meatloaf. It’s not only mouth watering but also quite healthy as well. The ingredients are very simple, also known as pantry staples. We have had this dish in the past, and my non-vegetarian family members pointed out that it was even tastier than the traditional meat courses. 

The making: You first start out with making the lentils which is a timely process, but also the key ingredient in this loaf. I recommend making the rest of the recipe while the lentils are cooking. The rest of the instructions are really simple: you saute the vegetables, and once the lentils are done, mash them up. I used a food processor, but you can use a fork as well. When all of this is combined, you pour on the glaze, and voula, a crumbdiliumches meatless loaf.

The tasting: The loaf was surprisingly sweet and savory, which I didn’t expect but definitely a positive bonus. The loaf texture was also rich and moist and gave a nod to a traditional stuffing flavor.

Overall thoughts and tips: My overall thoughts are that this loaf is a wonderful meatless main dish that can serve many different dietary needs while also giving the meat eaters a traditional main course. The recipe was simple to make and also very beautiful too for those wanting to impress their friends and family. For the tips, I recommend doubling the glaze because it didn’t have much of an even ratio with the loaf for how tasty it was and didn’t cover all of the sides. You can also just put the glaze in a dish for people to take extra if they want. I also recommend for serving taking the loaf out of the pan and onto a plate, then pouring the glaze on the loaf, while it’s on the plate and top with some rosemary for a nice pizazz at the end.


Sweet potato casserole VEG, GF, 

(Can be made vegan by using flax eggs instead of regular and can be made nut free with an alternative crumble, can be made dairy free by using vegan butter)

The recipe I used: Gluten free sweet potato casserole


This sweet potato casserole was so easy to make and tasted like a dessert though the whole base is made out of nutritious sweet potato. The casserole makes a great alternative to a main meat dish and is very kid friendly for all the picky eaters.

The making: When I said easy, I meant it. I first started with chopping my sweet potatoes into cubes and boiling them for 10 min. Once the sweet potatoes were soft, I combined all the filling ingredients in a food processor and headed over to start the crust. For the crust, which is pretty similar to the pumpkin pie, I crumbled some pecans and mixed it with gluten free crust (I used Bob’s Red Mills) and the rest of the ingredients. Once assembled, I poured it over the sweet potato mixture and sent it on its way to the oven.

The tasting: Pulling this casserole out of the oven gave a pleasant surprise to my nose, it sure smelled delicious. When taking my first bite it confirmed my beliefs that this was definitely a Thanksgiving food. It hit all the fall and winter comfort places, including the sweet potato and delicious crumble on top. The sweet potato mixture wasn’t liquidy which I enjoyed and it almost gave a hint to the pumpkin pie though a slightly different flavor combination. I definitely enjoyed the eating experience of this sweet potato casserole.

Overall thoughts and tips: This dish is perfect for a last second whip-up, as it was very simple to make and hit all the spots on the taste buds. I would say the dish isn’t overall that aesthetic or fancy, appearance wise or by flavor profile, but more so of a comfort classic and great for kids (or picky adults). Some tips would be to reduce the crumble mixture by half, I had way too much crumble at the end even though I probably had a ½ inch thick of the mixture on top.