Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Recipes for Delicious and Healthier Foods that Don’t Include Turkey


Thanksgiving 2016 is coming up on November 24, but what does that mean if you’re vegetarian? Well, for starters, it means not having any turkey or gravy to drench mashed potatoes and vegetables in. But just because you don’t eat meat doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the rest of the dinner, even if the stuffing has sausage in it. “Turkey Day” is what many people call Thanksgiving because the turkey is typically the main food item, so many look forward to eating it on this day.

If you are vegetarian or have guests coming over who are non-meat-eaters, there are options available to use as substitutions for the turkey, and they don’t have to be hard to make or lack in the flavor department. Since vegetarians eat vegetables, make sure to have plenty of vegetable dishes on hand as well as a main that they can enjoy instead of the turkey. Eating healthy foods even on holidays is important, so the following recipes are going to taste great and be good for your guests too.

Make sure when cooking for vegetarians, though, to be mindful of the other ingredients used. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken or beef broth, and don’t use bacon fat for anything, no matter how tempting it is and how tasty it makes dishes. These little considerations show the vegetarians at your table that you considered their lifestyle and thought of them. Most people who don’t eat meat are well aware it can be a hassle for those cooking for them if they aren’t themselves vegetarian, so they do appreciate the efforts made.

Meat Alternative Recipes for Thanksgiving Dinner

Cinnamon Baked Carrots

You will need: *15 carrots, peeled and stems removed, 1/3 cup butter, softened, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground Ceylon cinnamon, 1/3 cup boiling water, 1 tablespoon orange juice.

* Count on about three carrots per guest. But if a vegetarian is coming allow for five carrots for them so adjust your numbers accordingly.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Clean the carrots and arrange them in a baking dish long enough for the carrots. Cream the butter, sugar, salt, and cinnamon together then add the boiling water and orange juice. Pour this mixture over the carrots. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 90 minutes. Once cooked, remove and plate right before serving dinner. Pour the cinnamon butter at the bottom of the pan over the carrots. This goes well with green vegetables you might be serving, such as green beans.

Quinoa Stuffed Pumpkin

As for a main for vegetarian Thanksgiving, this recipe in a pumpkin not only looks festive, but tastes delicious.

You will need: 1 large pumpkin or 2 small pumpkins; 1 1/2 cups uncooked millet or quinoa; Coconut oil, ghee or olive oil;
2 large onions, finely chopped; 9 oz / 250 g mushrooms, quartered; 2 large stems kale; finely chopped, 3 tbsps white wine or water; 1 tsp dried thyme; 1 cup cranberries (fresh, frozen, or dried); *1 handful raw almonds, coarsely chopped; 2 stems parsley, finely chopped; 5 1/2 oz goat’s or sheep’s feta cheese (optional); salt and pepper to taste; *skip if there are any nut allergies.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F.

Cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin to make a bowl that can be filled. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, and rub the inside with oil of your choice.

Place the millet in a sieve and pour hot water over top of this. Rinse and drain. Put this in a saucepan and cover with three cups of water. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat immediately and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Heat some oil in a large skillet and sauté the onions, mushrooms and kale for a few minutes until soft. Add the wine, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste; cook for about five more minutes. Add the cranberries when there is almost no liquid left. Then add in the almonds and some parsley.

Stir in the cooked millet and feta. The mixture is complete and ready to use for filling the pumpkin. Place the lid you carved out back on the pumpkin and bake for about an hour. The skin should be bubbling and brown when ready, and the pumpkin flesh should be soft when pierced with a fork. Remove the lid and top the mixture with more feta and parsley.



Tarala, Becky. “A Simple Veggie Dish That Will Steal the Show This Thanksgiving,” Pop Sugar web site, November 3, 2016;, last accessed November 7, 2016.