A no-harm holiday meal alternative

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By Robert McFerren


With Thanksgiving a week away, Valley cooks are putting together shopping lists for all their food needs for the big family meal – including the main course and all of the side items.

Everything is going according to plan until you receive a call that a guest coming to your holiday meal is a vegetarian or vegan.

The first thing not to do is panic. Vegans and vegetarians can be nice people, looking perfectly normal, as long as they’re not provoked (“So, you don’t eat meat?” “Don’t you miss eating meat?” “Why don’t you eat meat?” “What do you eat for protein?” and finally, the classic: “So you only eat salads?”).

Whether for health reasons or a lifestyle change, plant-based eating is on the rise in the U.S. and around the world.

According to a report by research firm GlobalData, people identifying as vegans in the U.S. has increased 600 percent in recent years. In 2014, only 1 percent of U.S. consumers claimed to be vegan.

Plant-based diets are more healthful, environment-friendly and really delicious.

So, what do vegans and /or vegetarians eat?

A vegan does not eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs or any dairy products.

Vegetarians are broken into multiple categories:

Lacto-vegetarian: Doesn’t eat meat, poultry, fish or eggs, but will eat dairy products, including milk, cheese and yogurt.

Lacto-ovo vegetarian: Doesn’t eat meat, fish and poultry, while eggs and dairy products are allowed.

Other items to avoid for vegans and vegetarians include gravy (meat juices) and surprising to most, marshmallows (as gelatin is what allows it to form its shape). You are on your own if you want to look up what the issue is with gelatin for non-meat eaters.

So, now that we know what these veggie/vegan guests won’t eat, let’s get to what they will eat.

Many side dishes aren’t usually a problem, but make sure your guests are aware of dairy (butter, sour cream, cream cheese, etc.) that may be in some casseroles. Opt for cream of celery or cream of mushroom for the green bean casserole instead of cream of chicken.


With the growth in the plant-based diet, there are many companies that cater to that audience, creating many meatless options for your guests’ main course.

Field Roast

These are plant-based roasts made from grain and veggies, which make for a fantastic main course offering.

Field Roast Celebration Roast with Stuffing & Mushroom Gravy: Grains, vegetables, legumes and spices shaped into a roast with traditional bread stuffing made with onions, celery, cranberries and butternut squash. Comes with a porcini mushroom gravy.

Field Roast Hazelnut Cranberry Roast en Croute with Rosemary Candied Ginger & Sausage Stuffing:

Features a rich, hazelnut-infused grain with a meat-like texture stuffed with Field Roast sausages, ginger, cranberries and apples – wrapped in a puff pastry.

My opinion: Field Roast roasts (and all their products) all have a delicious, unique flavor and chewy texture that combines a perfect blend of grains and vegetables. The Celebration Roast is always big hit at our house during the holidays.

Where to buy: http://bit.ly/2OxzHi7

Field Roast recipes: http://bit.ly/2JQihfV


Roast & Wild Rice Stuffing: A blend of wheat and tofu, filled with a wild rice and bread crumb stuffing. Can also be purchased with vegan gravy.

My opinion: Tofurky roast has a good texture and flavor, with a savory stuffing inside. Be aware that these frozen roasts need to be thawed in the refrigerator ahead of time, so make sure to follow package instructions.

Where to buy: http://bit.ly/2FcYoRq

Tofurky recipes: http://bit.ly/2zEFzR9


Quorn Turk’y Roast: A meatless option that resembles the flavor and texture of turkey.

My opinion: These roasts are delicious and juicy, however, note that this roast is not for vegans, as it contains rehydrated egg white and milk proteins.

Where to buy: http://bit.ly/2PS7U0e

Quorn recipes: bit.ly/2PhuPD1


Gardein Holiday Roast, Savory Stuffed Turk’y: A meatless turkey taste with cranberry wild rice stuffing, with homestyle gravy.

Gardein Lightly Breaded Turk’y Cutlets: Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, with homestyle gravy.

Where to buy: http://bit.ly/2PoxR8A

Gardein recipes: http://bit.ly/2AVmJa4

Vegetarian Plus

Vegetarian Plus Whole Turkey: A vegan imitation turkey with vegan gravy and stuffing.

Vegetarian Plus Turkey Roll: Imitation turkey with a cranberry glaze.

Vegetarian Plus Ham Roll: Vegan imitation ham with an apricot plum glaze.

My opinion: If their turkey is as good as their ham, then it should be a tasty delight. I have purchased this brand in the region before, but now it seems hard to find. May have to order online.

Where to buy: http://bit.ly/2SZfPrx

Vegetarian Plus recipes: http://bit.ly/2qz8LF4

When trying to find meatless products in your local grocery store, check the frozen food section or produce areas.

Try calling your local health food stores, which also may carry these products.

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