Thanksgiving is sometimes called “Turkey Day.” But it’s really a pretty awful day to be a turkey, with more than 45 million turkeys ending up on dinner tables, many genetically engineered to grow so big that they live short, painful lives.
For many people, turkey isn’t even the tastiest part of the holiday. Sure, it’s a Thanksgiving centerpiece. However, people load up most of their plates with stuffing, potatoes (both sweet and mashed), green beans, casseroles, pies and other delicious meat-free dishes.
If you’re feeling uneasy about consuming turkey this year, but can’t imagine Thanksgiving without some, you’re in luck. The markets offer several “turkey roasts” without the bird. Food companies have come a long way in turning grains and legumes into something a lot meatier and more enjoyable. Plus, for our kosher, non-vegan readers, because veggie “meat” is made from vegetables, you can enjoy it with dairy products.
Some people worry that there’s something unnatural about veggie meats, but that’s gobbledygook. All of the vegetarian “turkey” companies use completely natural ingredients, some of them even less scary than the poultry industry’s offerings.
If you still can’t wrap your head around not having actual turkey on Thanksgiving, consider that there are some claims that the first Thanksgiving actually took place in Florida in 1565, with Spanish settlers and Timuca Indians feasting on bean soup. Thanksgiving may have originally been centered on legumes!
Here are a few turkey-free options, many of which are served the “traditional” way:
- Gardein—Most reviewers seem to agree that Gardein’s Stuffed Holiday Roast is the best and tastiest vegan “turkey” available.
- Tofurky is probably the most well known, and it’s also my personal favorite. Many people use the word “tofurky” to refer to vegan “turkey” in the generic sense, but it’s actually a brand! The company has been in the vegan turkey game for nearly 20 years.
- Field Roast makes a couple of different holiday options, including a “sausage”-style roast, as well as a pastry-wrapped Hazelnut Cranberry Roast. Both are soy free.
- UnTurkey—A decade ago, the UnTurkey was all of the meat-free rage. It disappeared from the shelves, but some dedicated fans decided to share the secret recipe with the world. The original chef, Miyoko Schinner, has since given the fan website her blessing and contributed some extra cooking tips of her own.
- Native Foods—Native Foods, an excellent vegetarian restaurant located south of Dupont Circle, is taking orders for the Native Wellington, a puff pastry loaded with Thanksgiving goodness. They also have organic pumpkin pie and organic pumpkin cheesecake.
You don’t have to be the president to pardon a turkey.