Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Meatless Monday *er* Tuesday ~ Thanksgiving Recipes

Sadly, this is my first Meatless Monday post in months and I didn't even manage to post it on a Monday.  Ah well.  This will be a quick post; I just wanted to share with you some yummy vegetarian Thanksgiving ideas because OH YEAH.  It's possible to have a delicious Thanksgiving feast without a dead turkey in the middle of the table!  I just had my fourth annual pre-Thanksgiving celebration with friends, which was entirely vegan except for a pie somebody brought, and I really don't think anybody missed the bird.  In fact, one of my omnivorous friends even texted me ahead of time to tell me how excited he was for my cooking (which totally made my day).

Meatless Monday is a movement to get Americans to eat less meat and more veggies through the simple expedient of not eating any animal products one day a week.  It's a great way to segue into vegetarianism or even veganism, or just make a small but real difference in your health and the environment.  To that end, on Meatless Mondays here at Soy Chai Bookshelf I will talk about anything related to food and vegetarianism, from cookbook reviews to to recipes I've created (don't hold your breath) to bragging about the delicious vegetarian feast I just whipped up to discussing in a (hopefully) not-too-judgemental way why vegetarianism is a great choice.

But first, a rant.  I HATE it when people call it Turkey Day and I always have, even before I became a vegetarian.  Calling it that completely undermines the purpose of the holiday, which is to give thanks for all you have and not verbalize your gluttony.  Also, the idea of Thanksgiving is not an American thing!  Many, maybe even most cultures have an equivalent celebration, even if they don't necessarily call it that (though some, like Canada do).  Ever heard of a harvest celebration?  Yeah, same thing.

But anywho, the recipes!  I started the meal with a repeat hit from last year: Houlihan's shrooms, deep-fried and delicious.  I subbed in Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, and nobody could care less, they were so yummy.  This year, I decided to make a yummy lentil loaf, which is a first for Thanksgiving and will certainly be repeated.  I also made a delicious sweet potato casserole, sans vegetarian-unfriendly marshmallows.  I don't think marshmallows are necessary for sweet potatoes, but if you want them, go for Dandies or Sweet & Sara's brands.  They are gelatin free and veg-friendly!  I also made stuffed butternut squash from an e-cookbook that I can't seem to find, but here's what seems to be a free updated version of it (there are about a trillion other great Thanksgiving recipes there as well).  I also made the mushroom gravy from Vegan Brunch, which is always a big hit.  There's also this stuffed pumpkin recipe (vegans beware - there be cheese).  I've never made it, but I have my eye on it for next year.  If you make it, let me know how it turns out.

Then there are the basics that you don't really need recipes for.  Boil up some potatoes until fork tender, drain, and mash with enough melted Earth Balance and warmed soy milk until they're just how you like them.  Don't forget the salt.  Take some from green beans and broccoli and saute them in olive oil with some garlic, and you have an easy and yummy green veggie to serve (I add a splash of water in the pan and cover it for a couple minutes so that they soften without shriveling up or getting burnt).  And you don't need help with the dessert, right? That link up there with a whole list of recipes also has some great veganized desserts.  Check out the list of veg references I posted a couple of months ago for more great ideas.

And here's a bit of Thanksgiving Day advice: if you're a vegetarian hosting omnivores, please don't feel like you need to cook a turkey (see above comment about how this is about the harvest not a dead bird).  Stick to your convictions and serve up some delicious veggies, and everybody will be happy, including you.  And for you omnivores that are entertaining vegetarians - use vegetable stock instead of chicken or beef so that everybody is happy (and Earth Balance and non-dairy milk if they're vegan), and please don't be insulted when they don't partake in the bird.  It's nothing personal.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!  I hope it's a great day for all!

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