Who says you need a turkey to be thankful?
There are so many reasons to leave turkey off your plate for Thanksgiving 2020 — not only is opting for a plant-based alternative to turkey a more compassionate choice for animals, but you’ll also save money, it will take less time to cook, it has a lower environmental impact, and your body will likely feel better after the meal. So if you’re looking to whip something up in your kitchen to serve as a vegan main dish for Thanksgiving, we’ve got you covered.
There are so many main dishes you can serve for Thanksgiving that aren’t turkey.
Before we get into the recipes, we want to point out that there are plenty of vegan turkeys and holiday roasts you can pick up at the grocery store, which will save you time in the kitchen. Check out our list of the best store-bought vegan Thanksgiving main dishes.
Read on for seven recipes — all available for free online — for delicious vegan main dishes that will work perfectly for Thanksgiving. And to make things extra easy, we included YouTube video tutorials to help guide you through every recipe.
Ultimate Vegan Christmas Roast Wellington
Gaz Oakley of the blog Avant Garde Vegan has an entire cookbook called Vegan Christmas, so it’s safe to say he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to holiday dishes. His recipe for the Ultimate Vegan Christmas Roast Wellington uses vital wheat gluten (aka homemade seitan) to create a meaty texture, and a variety of spices to make for the perfect holiday flavor.
Jackfruit Vegan Turkey
Tiffany from the YouTube channel Vegan Aloha Kitchen has an out-of-this-world recipe for a Jackfruit Vegan Turkey that surprisingly resembles an actual turkey. Not only that, but this recipe is also whole foods plant-based, and it’s free of gluten and soy, should anyone at your Thanksgiving dinner have allergies.
To make the vegan turkey, Tiffany wraps canned young jackfruit in sheets of rice paper, and bakes everything in an air fryer (or oven) until it all crisps up, resulting in a shocking, turkey-like visual. She recommends serving it alongside her mushroom gravy.
Nut & Lentil Roast
Rose Lee of the blog Cheap Lazy Vegan has an awesome recipe for a Nut & Lentil Roast that would serve as a hearty main dish for your Thanksgiving table. In 2019, we interviewed Lee about attending Thanksgiving as a vegan, and she explained why this is the perfect recipe to serve non-vegans.
"I believe this Nut & Lentil [Roast] is appealing to non-vegans because it doesn't try to imitate meat but still gives a very similar experience as the 'main course' to a holiday meal," she told Green Matters last year. "Not only that, it is tasty, filling, hearty, and flavorful — also a healthier option."
Jessica Hylton of the blog Jessica in the Kitchen has a super simple recipe for a moist, flavorful, and nutritious Vegan Meatloaf. The recipe happens to be gluten-free, and she says it only takes 15 minutes of prep time. Don’t forget to whip up Hylton’s delicious tomato-based glaze to top things off.
Stuffed Roasted Butternut Squash
Sam Turnbull of the blog It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken has a recipe for the most adorable Thanksgiving centerpiece: a Stuffed Roasted Butternut Squash. The recipe features a full butternut squash stuffed with a wild rice-based stuffing, tied together with string. I made this recipe for my family a few years back, and was a big hit.
To keep this recipe eco-friendly, make sure to use 100 percent cotton kitchen string so you can compost it after the meal.
Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Rosette Potatoes on Top
Francesca of the Plantifully Based blog has a recipe for a mouth-watering Lentil Shepherd’s Pie, made extra special by the rosette potatoes on top. Shepherd’s pies are typically covered with a flat, thick layer of mashed potatoes.
But instead, Francesca tops her pie with a thin layer of mashed potatoes, and stuffs the rest into a piping bag with an icing tip. She then squirts the mashed potatoes out in small circular motions to create adorable potato rosettes, which brown nicely in the oven. As she says in her YouTube video, you can skip the piping step in favor of simply spooning the mashed potatoes onto the pie before baking — but if you don’t go all out for Thanksgiving, when will you go all out?