Meat-Free Alternatives to Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes

At Thanksgiving dinner, the bird — or beast — usually takes center stage. But you can easily create a meat-free Thanksgiving feast sure to please your guests — or simply include a meat-free entree so your vegetarian and vegan guests aren’t relegated to just enjoying your side dishes. Experiment with seasonal produce and rich-tasting ingredients, like nuts, for hearty meat-free alternatives to traditional Thanksgiving recipes.

Fix Meat-Free Stuffing

Going meat-free doesn't mean you need to miss out on traditional Thanksgiving dishes, like stuffing. Simply omit the meat from your favorite recipe and substitute with a spiced vegan sausage — look for spicy Italian or apple and sage varieties for fall-appropriate flavor.

If you'd prefer to avoid faux meat products, add savory flavors to your stuffing by using shiitake mushrooms. The mushrooms are high in "umami" flavor, so your stuffing will have the richness of meat — minus any actual meat. Bake your stuffing in acorn squash halves for a satisfying and filling meat-free entree.

Try Mini Pot Pies

Pot pie is comforting, filling and rich — everything you want for a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. And while most pot pies contain chicken or meat, you can easily make hearty pot pies using vegetables and mushroom gravy for a meat-free Thanksgiving option. Use your Vitamix machine to make delicious pastry crust and fill each pot pie with cubed butternut squash, chopped chard or dinosaur kale, carrots, celery, onions, and red or white beans. Any assortment of vegetables works for pot pie. Choose the best-looking produce at your farmer's market for a locally sourced pot pie that's bursting with flavor.

Top your pies by adapting stress-free gravy for a vegetarian menu — simply use mushroom or vegetable broth instead of turkey broth.

Make Walnut-Stuffed Mushrooms

One of the challenges in meat-free cooking is adding dimension and richness to your meals. Enter walnuts. Not only do walnuts come loaded with fiber and minerals, but also their high fat content and natural richness help them turn veggie-based dishes into hearty entrees.

Use walnuts for decadent stuffed mushrooms that taste as amazing as they look. Blend walnuts with sautéed mushrooms and onions, whole-wheat breadcrumbs, cranberries, chopped apple and sage in your Vitamix machine until it forms a cohesive mixture. Spoon the mixture into Portobello mushroom caps, with the stems and gills removed, and bake until the filling is golden brown. Sprinkle with fresh-grated Parmesan immediately before serving.

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