A Vegetarian’s Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving


Photo Courtesy of PikWizard

Trying to navigate Thanksgiving dinner can be difficult if you don’t eat meat!

For those of us who have decided to avoid fat and grizzle, the holidays are a tricky time to navigate. Between your great aunt “accidentally” piling turkey on your plate, to your grandma nitpicking how skinny you’ve become, it seems that the holidays make your nutrition everybody’s business. Here are a few tips on how to endure those awkward conversations this Thursday:

#1: Eat Dinner at the Kid’s Table

The kid’s table, or the “judgement free zone” of any family function, is the ideal place for any new vegetarian. To put it simply, the children do not care about what you do; they are too preoccupied with the thought of play fighting with their mashed potatoes. And if they do care enough to ask, you can either tell them…  or just pull rank and leave them to wonder. 

#2: Try to Inform

Though you may not want to indulge this impulse, the urge to shine a light on the injustices of the meat and dairy industries always occurs when a vegetarian diet comes into question. So, why not? You might as well just stand your ground and face the consequences later. After all, even if it backfires, you’ll still have better heart health in the end. 

“Happy Tofurkey/Tofurky day” by jon starbuck (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Tofurky and vegetarian stuffing is a delicious alternative for Thanksgiving Day.

#3: Just Bring Your Own Food

Vegetarian stuffing is actually quite good. And so is tofurky! Break out the Pyrex and saran wrap, because microwaving your meat-free meal is a lot easier than trying to pick out bacon pieces in your collard greens. 

#4: Eat Before

Fill up on an Impossible Burger and head over to your family’s house. After all, you probably can only eat the salad and a few desserts regardless. Preparation is the key to success – and wouldn’t you rather be proactive? 

#5: Make a Joke

Next time Aunt Sue tells you that your diet is “unnatural” and “downright self-punishment,” just make a quick and witty response. When you hear that “everyone just needs to eat a burger once in a while,” respond with “well I guess I’m just not everybody!” Maybe you’ll get a chuckle. Maybe you won’t. You’ll see. 

#6: Suggest New Traditions

Image by Pexels from Pixabay
Start a new, vegetarian friendly tradition – everyone loves pizza!

“Hey… maybe we could order a pizza this year? Just to spice things up a little bit?” With this method, success varies. You can still give it a shot! There’s nothing wrong with some good ol’ Thanksgiving Takeout. 


As a vegetarian, sometimes Thanksgiving just sucks. The gravy has bone broth in it, as do the mashed potatoes. Bacon bits can be found in mac and cheese, collard greens, even the salad! But, through all the prying inquiries, just remember to look a little deeper: your family cares about you and wants to make sure you stay healthy. Even if they express it in a rather judgmental way, their intentions are pure. Keeping this in mind, enjoy navigating the Thanksgiving spread and have a very happy holiday!