A Very Vegan Thanksgiving: Plant-Based Tips for the Best Holiday of the Year
Plans for a pandemic
The holiday is upon us. Thanksgiving (which in my adult years I’ve referred to as ThanksTAKING) is the most important holiday because, well, you know … FOOD … but as a vegan it can be confusing, as there are limited options.
I wasn’t raised in a religious home. I mean, yes, I absolutely had an Easter dress and patent leathers, but no service to follow. Though Southern and decently traditional, holidays were devoid of any church rhetoric. Christmas was about presents — that’s it. I barely remember any notable meals for Christmas, which is most likely because I was too deep in the Barbie Dreamhouse world to notice.
Once the sweaters started to roll around I was off that. Needless to say, Thanksgiving became Queen. Thanksgiving is a foodie’s Christmas.
I grew up eating giblet (gibley) gravy, holding my nose while chitterlings (chitlins) were being prepared and begging to wash greens before they were parboiled (pearboiled). I’m still haunted by the mandatory cold saltwater washing of collards.
My grandmother made sweet potato pie, and my mom made egg custard and lemon pound cake. Indisputably in my mind, Thanksgiving was about family and food.
Although I ate turkey, I always found it wild to have to make those little construction paper crafts in elementary school. And even wilder than that: pilgrims (like WTF?!). Pilgrims had no seat at our Thanksgiving table. Who were these men??
I think all of us experience a bit of cognitive dissonance when it comes to our meals, and for those of us choosing a vegan lifestyle, Thanksgiving can be a huge contradiction in so many ways.
Sometime after the colorful paper turkeys lost my interest, the lore of the first Thanksgiving got replaced with the real facts of Native American genocide.
Coming to terms with the sacrifice of turkeys to serve as the nation’s “Thanks?” I meeeeaaan … that’s a lot.
Me and mines lean on harvest. I use the holiday as ritual and reverence for ancestors and natives that bestowed all the goodness upon us. Cornucopia baby!
It is also my time to connect and share all of my love through my culinary gifts.
I’m a Virgo, and I nurture best through feeding people. This is the only holiday that I’ve deeply built as a tradition with my immediate loved ones. (Read: my children BETTER come home)
Food anchors us to our deepest connections and identity but gatherings can also be hella triggering. The dinner table can be a source of anxiety or joy.
For lots of us, Thanksgiving potentially looks different this year. Many of us can’t be with our loved ones for various reasons. Our gatherings as a whole will be undoubtedly smaller and held with major caution and utmost care.
I grew up with the gift of an in-home grandma … but what happens if a grandparent is the source of the meal and you have to keep a safe distance? Maybe your budget for family travel is affected? Are you quarantined with a loved one? Or you may be going the holiday alone this year?
Let’s solve some problems the best way we know how: with food. Shall we?
You’re home alone
Easy! Order my fave, Lang Van. Get the curry with vermicelli because of the yam in the dish. What’s thanksgiving without the yams?
Or maybe hit up one of my new faves, Curry Gate. The bhindi masala is on point. But also, spicy ass chana, yes. I order a 5 but if you like to keep it safe, stay under 3.
Tiny family gathering
Make a batch of roasted root veggies, mashed potatoes and grab the vegan holiday roast from your local Trader Joe’s (it’s yummy and priced right).
Quarantined with your partner
Head over to the Greener Apple. You can always count on them to have tons of holiday treats and goodies like prepackaged potatoes, mac and cheez, Tofurky holiday ham and more. Owner Lee Rathers even has compostable dinnerware (no dishes to wash!).
Extra bonus: Buy a vegan cookbook from the elaborate section there (they’re located in a book store, after all) and plan ahead for next time.
You really want to have a Dessertgiving because 2020
Move That Dough Baking Co.! Kacie Smagacz is blessing us with goodies to take and bake!! I mean, have you had her cinnamon rolls?!?! (And you can always count on a gluten-free option).
You can see her list of options and get in touch via her IG: @movethatdoughbakingco.
Want to have your cake and eat it too? Try Jazina’s Creation. They offer both vegan and traditional cakes. I celebrated my bday with one of their vegan cakes and … whew … AMAZING. Try the caramel apple pie vegan cupcakes. I know I will be.
You would normally make a feast but you’re TIIIIEEEED because 2020
Say less, you’ve earned it. Order from Vegganers Luck! Janaya Jenkins is clutch and offers pick-up but will deliver for a small fee. Vegganers offers several options, including country-fried steak and glazed ham, desserts, sides … all the things! They’ve got you covered.
Get more details and place your order at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’ve been missing ZiZi’s, check out their vegan Thanksgiving special. Pick up is in Shelby, but they may soon be adding a central Charlotte location. They have plates with a nice variety and dessert for one!
You can get more info at their ig: @zizisvegan2go.
Nourish Charlotte is offering their usual vegan yumminess for the Thanksgiving holiday, including the brussels in bechamel, but they’re also working with other local businesses like BarVecue and Viva Raw to bring us local bites and appetizers.
Find them at Nourishcharlotte.com and zip over to the opposite page for a full rundown of the exciting new stuff Nourish founder Julia Simon is up to.
And there’s me. Even if it was my style (it’s not), I couldn’t bear to gloat here. But I will tell you that I’ve offered a vegan caramel pecan pie (along with a savory menu) every year at Thanksgiving for at least 7 years.
You can follow/contact me on Instagram if you’re curious.
Happy eating y’all!
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