Preparing all the food for Thanksgiving is a lot of work, from the planning and shopping, to the prep, cooking and serving. This year my daughter, who is vegetarian, invited some friends, one of whom who is vegan. No problem. I've had a couple of vegetarians for quite a few years now, so I'm already used to either converting dishes to vegetarian or making alternative dishes.
My daughter and friends brought a vegan entre and dessert. I adjusted my recipes to make as many of my traditional dishes vegan as possible. I substituted vegan margarine for butter, substituted coconut milk for cow's milk, and in the case of the stuffing, also omitted the egg. I made a hearty mushroom gravy that included vegetable stock, vegan margarine, and wine. I also made the traditional turkey gravy. I whipped up the mashed potatoes with a can of coconut milk and no butter or margarine at all. They came out so delicious and creamy, I think that may become my permanent way of preparing them. I cooked salmon as well as turkey since a couple of my vegetarians will eat fish. The salmon has become a tradition, and now I cook small turkey and large salmon, because even the meat eaters enjoy it, too. Of course, I used no meat drippings or giblets or sausage for the stuffing and did not stuff the turkey. The advantage to this, of course, is that you can make the stuffing the day before and then just warm it up before dinner. This year I used coconut milk and vegetable broth in the stuffing, and it came out possibly better than ever.
When I mentioned to a friend I would be preparing vegan dishes for our dinner, she was flabbergasted and wondered how I would be able to do all that. But really, you can see it wasn't that much more to do. Simply by substituting a few ingredients and omitting some, many of my traditional recipes were converted to vegan. Our vegan guest had many delicious dishes to fill his plate and he appreciated it so much, saying that often when invited for dinner, he gets served a salad because people just can't figure out what to make.
There were 12 for dinner this year. The food was so good. The guests lingered for hours. We all had dessert and coffee later. And when everyone left, they loaded up the leftovers and took every last bit except green beans (which will be my leftover fare). Seldom has a Thanksgiving dinner gone so well.
If you have vegan or vegetarian guests for dinner, don't panic. It's not as hard to accommodate as you might think. You don't have to sacrifice flavor. You don't have to make those dishes that require 15 ingredients--some you've never heard of. Make simple adjustments to your favorite side dishes, and pick up a main dish option at Whole Foods, if you need to.
Happy Thanksgiving! The 2014 holidays are officially launched.
Incidentally, you might wonder how I dared have no rug under the table to protect my new floor. Actually, I carefully applied felt pads to the legs of all the furniture. Not only does that protect the floor, it makes it so much easier to move the furniture. And sliding your chair in and out from the table is so easy, too. (You know how awkward it is when chairs won't slide.)