8 Simple Vegan Turkey Substitutes That Don’t Suck
Yes, the holiday season is officially upon us! So many holiday traditions are based around amazing food, and being meat-free doesn’t mean that you need to miss out. In fact, there are so many meatless alternatives to the traditional “holiday roast” and meat-based sides these days that you might even find your carnivore friends envying what is on your plate! Vegan turkey substitute options are indeed endless!
We realize that everyone’s tastes are different so, in addition to sharing our own favorites, we’ve also included suggestions from members of our closed Facebook group, the Peas and Carrots Society (whaddup guys!). We hope this list of “vegan turkey substitutes that don’t suck” will provide you with some options to satisfy a variety of palates this Christmas, Thanksgiving, or your own celebration!
You can listen to us talk about turkey substitutes here or read on for a quick summary!
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Table of Contents
1. Just The Sides Please!
Back when I was a meat-eater turkey was never my favorite, so foregoing the bird at Thanksgiving isn’t a sacrifice for me. The sides have always been my favorites, anyway.
If this is your first meatless Thanksgiving and you’ve decided to fill your plate with delicious sides instead, you’ll want to pay attention to how those sides are prepared (whether homemade or prepackaged). You might be surprised to learn that some contain animal byproducts. Here are a few to watch out for.
Canned cranberry sauce often contains gelatin, which is made with animal byproducts. It can also contain high fructose corn syrup. Your best bet is to whip up your own cranberry sauce. Not only is it better-tasting and healthier for you, but it’ll also look so much nicer on your table! Here is an easy cranberry sauce recipe from Cookie and Kate.
Gravy often contains animal fat or pan drippings. There are plenty of easy vegan gravy recipes that are quick and tasty, like this recipe from Connoisseurus Veg or this Vegan Mushroom Gravy published in the New York Times.
Most marshmallows are made with gelatin, so you’ll want to avoid most brands. The good news, however, is that there is a brand that is vegan…on purpose! They are Dandies, and they’re better than any non-vegan marshmallows we’ve ever tasted! Vegan marshmallows…who knew?
- Non-GMO Project Verified
- Perfect For S'mores, Crispy Treats or Hot Chocolate
- All Natural Marshmallows
- Vegan & Kosher
- Contains No Gelatin or Gluten
Mashed Potatoes and Stuffing
Oftentimes mashed potatoes are made using chicken broth and dairy products. Substitute vegetable broth, vegan butter, and nut milk for a vegan-friendly version of mashed potatoes. We also LOVE this colcannon recipe which can also be made vegan.
As for vegan stuffing options, there are simply way too many types to list here. You can make traditional bread stuffing (plain bread or cornbread) vegan in the same way as mashed potatoes, by substituting vegan broth, butter, and milk. Or, you can try something tasty and different, such as this Quinoa and Herbed Wild Rice Stuffing from Kitchen Treaty.
2. Tofurky Holiday Products and Vegan Turkeys
Even before becoming vegetarian, we had heard about Tofurky roasts as a great vegan turkey substitute. While the Tofurky brand offers a wide variety of faux meats, it’s their “roasts” and “hams” that have many vegans and vegetarians buying their products this time of year.
Their website has a store locator to help you find their products near you.
3. Gardein turk'y
We like Gardein products. While we haven’t tried the turkey ourselves, it was recommended by a couple of our friends in The Peas and Carrots Society. This meatless roast is soy- and gluten-free. Additionally, it contains no GMOs.
4. Trader Joe’s Breaded Turkey-Less Stuffed Roast with Gravy
At the core of this layered breaded “roast” is a delicious wild rice stuffing that includes cranberries. The roast itself is a seasoned soy protein mix breaded with herbs and red pepper flakes. Yum!
Looking to Up Your cooking game? Check out the Forks Over Knives Cooking Course from Rouxbe. You can read our review of the course below.
- Learn to master knife skills
- Cooking without oil and creating healthy stocks/ sauces
- Time-Saving cooking strategies
- Virtual Q&A's and instructor support
5. Smoked Tofu
Shared by one of our Peas and Carrots Members, Ginger Caldwell…“Have you all ever tried smoked tofu? I used a marinade then smoked in a hickory filled smoker at 200 degrees for an hour. It’s cubed or sliced prior to smoking. It’s amazing!”
I asked her about the marinade and she stated that she uses tamari, garlic, and turmeric, but that you can use any spices you like. She added that, “The smoke is the star of the show!”
Looking for a recipe? Try this BBQ Tofu Burnt Ends recipe from Brand New Vegan!
6. Tofu Pot Roast
From Peas and Carrots member, Jessie Wright: “My favorite thing to make is a tofu pot roast. I’ve never been a fan of the vegan turkey products as I think they all have a strange aftertaste, but this dish is super satisfying.”
Check out this recipe from Fly Vegan Recipes that will have even the biggest of meat-eaters asking, “Is that really vegan?”
7. Field Roast Celebration Roast
Field Roast is another popular brand in the faux meat category. Their Celebration Roast is made from grain meat, fresh-cut butternut squash, mushrooms, and granny smith apples and is loaded with a savory stuffing.
- Stuffed with butternut squash, apples & mushrooms.
- Field Roast Stuffed Celebration Roast is fully cooked and ready to eat
- Simply made from grains & vegetables
8. Vegan Mushroom Wellington
Because of their consistency, mushrooms make an awesome replacement for meat. This recipe for vegan mushroom wellington from Delicious Every Day is a twist on the classic Beef Wellington. It’s one dish I can see being envied by our meat-eating friends. Vegan turkey ain’t got nothing on this mushroom wellington!
We hope these suggestions have provided you with some great ideas for a deliciously meatless holiday season!
Don’t forget to check out our Pinterest Board dedicated to Thanksgiving!
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More Vegan and Vegetarian Holiday Resources
Recipe of The Week
Tofu Pot Roast (special thanks to Jessie Wright)
- Take a whole block of firm tofu and cut about 10 half-inch slits in the top that stop in the middle of the block.
- Into these slits I slip whole cloves of garlic.
- I place the tofu block in a deep casserole dish and surround it with large chunks of onion, carrots, parsnips, and potatoes.
- Mix a broth of:
- 2 Tbs Braggs Liquid Aminos (soy sauce would work as well),
- 1/2 C nutritional yeast,
- About a tablespoon each of oregano and basil,
- A half Tbsp of thyme, and enough water to reach 3/4 of the way up the tofu block (amount depends on the size of the baking dish of course)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cover tightly and bake at 325 degrees for about 3 hours