5 Creative Thanksgiving Dinner Alternatives for Vegans, Gluten-Free Diets & More

The best part about Thanksgiving is eating too much. If you need to avoid traditional dishes, check out these alternatives to Thanksgiving dinner.


Everyone looks forward to Thanksgiving dinner. Who doesn’t love classic Thanksgiving dishes like stuffing, mashed potatoes, and of course, turkey? Sadly, some people can’t have these heavy menu items due to dietary restrictions.

However, there’s no need to panic.

turkey is one of the most common Thanksgiving dishes
Taken by SJ Baren via unsplash.com. [Public Domain].

These alternatives to Thanksgiving dinner are great for anyone that can’t handle traditional Thanksgiving dishes but still wants to leave their celebration full and satisfied.

1. Options for Vegans

Thanksgiving and veganism don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. Luckily, there are many meatless options for vegans to eat instead. If you’re avoiding the turkey, bring another dish you would like to serve as your main course—such as whole roasted cauliflower or mushroom wellington. Both are delicious and contain zero animal products.

Roasted brussels sprouts and butternut squash are great replacements for stuffing and mashed potatoes. The most important thing to remember is that there are options. Don’t feel hopeless if you’re a vegan on Thanksgiving.

2. Gluten-Free Choices

There’s nothing worse than getting sick at Thanksgiving dinner because you ate gluten. There are things you can do if you need to stay gluten-free this Thanksgiving. Buy a fresh turkey and put your own flavors and spices on it so you can ensure it’s gluten-free.

If you can, host Thanksgiving yourself so you can keep gluten and gluten-free items away from each other. When cooking gravy, substitute cornstarch for the flour. Also, never buy prepackaged items. They often contain gluten and will make you very sick.

If you’re interested, check out Dauntless Jaunter’s article on Thanksgiving traditions, customs, history, and controversy.

3. Vegetarian Possibilities

Since Thanksgiving is centered around meat, vegetarians have a hard time knowing what to eat. However, there are plenty of things vegetarians can eat. For example, vegetarians should try tofu turkey. If you’re a vegetarian, bring your own tempeh or tofu turkey (“tofurkey”) to Thanksgiving dinner and heat it up upon arrival.

Another option is to only stick to meatless sides. There’s no reason vegetarians can’t enjoy traditional dishes like stuffing and cranberry sauce. Feel free to load up on things that won’t break your vegetarian diet.

4. Be Mindful of Allergies

Nothing can ruin Thanksgiving more than an allergic reaction. Stay away from everything you’re allergic to this Thanksgiving. Inform the host of your allergies so they can be mindful while cooking.

If your allergies are severe, consider bringing your own dishes so that everything stays separate from things you’re allergic to. If you can host yourself, do that! That way, you can stay as organized as possible in the kitchen. Those that attend restaurants on Thanksgiving should inform chefs and waiters of any allergies as well.

5. For Those on a Diet

Dieting on Thanksgiving is tough. It’s so hard to resist all the hearty foods that everyone else is eating, but Thanksgiving doesn’t have to ruin all the progress you’ve made. There are plenty of healthy options that you can indulge in on Thanksgiving that won’t completely throw you off track.

For example, turkey without gravy is an excellent protein source. Bring whole wheat rolls to your Thanksgiving dinner for a healthier alternative to regular ones. Most importantly, keep portion control in mind. If you do indulge in some Thanksgiving treats, don’t overdo it. Moderation is key!

These alternatives to Thanksgiving dinner are great for anyone that can’t have the traditional dishes. If classic menu items like stuffing or pumpkin pie are dangerous for your health or go against your chosen diet, rest assured that there are options for you.

So, if you’re hosting the soiree, bring out your most fashionable serveware and impress your guests with your tasty alternatives. Eat as freely and as much as you want—and remember to enjoy the time with loved ones.


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