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How to Have a Happy Vegan Thanksgiving

Have you had a vegan Thanksgiving? Believe it or not, it is possible and can be DELICIOUS! I’ve had many and am never disappointed. Yummy tried and true recipes are the key to a successful vegan Thanksgiving dinner, especially for the entrée or Turkey substitution. As a note of caution, the holiday dinner may not be the time make a new dish you’ve never tried before, unless you are an experienced cook 😊.

If you are joining family or friends for the tradition non-vegan thanksgiving, here are a few tips to make it happy and successful for everyone:

  1. If dining with close family, let the host know that you are eating plant-based and perhaps they can make some of the side dishes without meat or diary. You’ll have to gage this one carefully; if they are unwilling, don’t make a big fuss, just try step 2.

  2. Bring a delicious side dish that you have made before and others have tasted/approved! Don’t announce that the dish is vegan, just serve it along with everything else.

  3. If you know the dinner is going to be meat-laden with few vegan options, eat in advance and plan to come and enjoy the company. Also bring your own food to eat (in addition to the shared dish) so you don’t go hungry.

  4. Avoid food debates! The holiday dinner table or any dinner table isn’t the time for this conversation. No one wins here and an argument over dinner will almost always create more resistance.

  5. Remember, its one meal, not the end of civilization. Have fun, socialize and enjoy visiting with family and friends and plan a mini-feast at home!

Here are a few tips If you are making your first full vegan holiday dinner for your family or friends:

  1. Stick with some of the traditional side dishes but find good vegan recipes to make the vegan version.

  2. Find one or two good substitutes for the entrée and test them out ahead of time. Some people like to try a mock turkey, which is fine, but you can also go in a different direction with the entrée. If your crowd isn’t very familiar with mock meats or don’t care for them, them coming up something entirely different my be the way to go. For example, a butternut squash lasagna or roasted stuffed tomatoes (see recipes below). As long as they delicious and filling, they will be a winner! Choosing something different avoids the comparison to meat which can sometime be a letdown if the substitute isn’t on point.

  3. Veganize the desserts. Dessert is probably the easiest of the dishes to veganize. This generally involves replacing cow’s milk with a plant milk like coconut milk (in place of condensed milk) or almond milk, and replacing eggs with some other type of binder like ground flax seeds and water or applesauce. Find a vegan recipe of your favorite desert and whip up something delicious. See my recipe page for a vegan sweet potato pie (

  4. Relax and have fun! Enjoy the food and company. Even if everything doesn’t turn out perfectly, its okay, you can try again until you get it right.

To get a yummy taste of Thanksgiving join me and many others on November 11th at the African American Civil War Memorial Museum in Washington DC for a scrumptious pre-holiday Thanksgiving Dinner prepared by me and other talented chefs. Get your ticket here:

If you can’t make it to the dinner, watch the demonstration online and get the delish recipes to add to your Thanksgiving table! Register here:

Butternut Squash Lasagna

By Ruby Lathon, PhD


  • 1 box gluten free lasagna noodles

  • 3 cups butternut squash, diced

  • 5 cups mushrooms (cremini, button), sliced

  • 1 5-ounce container baby spinach

  • 1 large carrot, grated

  • 2 cups Daiya Mozzarella shredded “cheese”

  • 2 tablespoons oregano

  • 2 tablespoons basil

Butternut Sauce Ingredients:

  • 3 cups butternuts squash (fresh or frozen), diced

  • 1 can organic coconut milk (full fat, not light)

  • 1 red onion, rough chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 1 cup basil

  • 2 teaspoons oregano

  • 1 teaspoon sage

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika

  • ½ teaspoon cayenne

  • ½ teaspoon cracked pepper


  1. Evenly spread 1/4 butternut squash sauce on bottom of pan. Layer lasagna noodles on top of sauce.

  2. Add a layer of butternut squash over noodles; then add a layer of spinach, then add a layer of mushrooms.

  3. Pour or ladle 1/3 of the butternut squash sauce over the mushrooms.

  4. Add a layer of noodles, then shredded carrots, then spinach, then mushrooms, then a layer of daiya cheese then 1/3 of sauce.

  5. Add a layer of noodles, any remaining veggies, and then a layer of sauce, then the remaining daiya cheese.

Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers

By Ruby Lathon, PhD


  • 6 medium vine-ripened tomatoes

  • 8 mini bell pepper,

Filling Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups mushrooms (crimini ,shitake or button)

  • 1 cup spinach, chopped

  • 3/4 cup cashews

  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari

  • 1 small red onion or 1 medium shallot

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 3/4 cup parsley

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

  • ½ cup fresh basil


  1. Cut a thin slice (about ½ inch) off the top of the tomatoes. Remove pulp and set aside in a bowl.

  2. Slice the mini bell pepper in half, lengthwise and discard the core and seeds.

  3. Put 3 tablespoons of the tomato pulp into a food processor along with all other filling ingredients.

  4. Pulse the food processor until all ingredients are well mixed.

  5. With a small spoon, stuff each of the tomatoes and mini bell-peppers with the stuffing.

  6. Refrigerate mini bell peppers until ready to serve.

  7. Place the stuffed tomatoes in a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30-minutes. Serve warm.

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