Thanksgiving can be tough if you're vegetarian or vegan. Often you'll be celebrating with people who don't follow vegetarian or vegan diets and it's hard not to feel like the odd one out. Still, in spite of everyone's dietary differences, there's no reason why you can't have a happy Thanksgiving . Below are some ideas about how to have a great Thanksgiving if you're vegetarian or vegan.
Don't lose sight of what matters
The holidays are about being with family and friends, or at least they should be. It's not the time to try and covert everyone to vegetarian or vegan and it's also not the time for people to give you a hard time because you don't want to eat animal products. If debates pop up, consider asking if you can discuss diet issues at another time because right now you just want to enjoy everyone's company. Take the higher ground and defuse debates before they take over the holiday. Remind people that time with family and friends matters more than the food.
Consider hosting your own Thanksgiving event
Hosting Thanksgiving can be a lot of work, but it does give you a chance to have Thanksgiving on your terms. Tell people ahead of time that your event will be vegetarian or vegan. Often when it comes to vegetarian holidays, non-vegetarians will want to "Bring a dish or two with meat" or even "Bring the whole turkey." Decide ahead of time if this is going to be ok with you or not and let them know. Some families will be so happy to have someone else doing all the shopping and cooking, they may not even miss the meat. Be sure to make plenty of wonderful food that will please everyone. Read Recipes for a Traditional Vegan Thanksgiving Menu for ideas.
If you're attending Thanksgiving at a relative's or friend's house
Most people know that vegetarians don't eat meat but vegan diets aren't as well understood, so it's important that you explain to your host what you do and don't eat. If your host is up for it, forward a few recipe ideas to them. Most hosts won't balk at the idea of getting some cooking help so offer to bring a dish or two (or more) that everyone can enjoy and then you know for sure you'll have tasty food to eat at the event.
Design a perfectly merged no-fuss meal everyone can enjoy
If no one can agree about what to cook or who will cook, consider ordering your whole darn Thanksgiving feast from an everyone-friendly caterer. For example, most Whole Foods and many co-ops have extensive holiday catering menus available that allow you to pick and choose from many different menu options, including mix and match meals. Meat eaters can pick meal item they'll like but so can vegetarians and vegans. Then you simply pick up your food, warm it up easily and enjoy hanging out together.