Switching to a completely plant-based diet can be tough, especially if you grew up in a meat and dairy-centric household.
Many of our favorite dishes—specifically the holiday recipes passed down for generations—may include animal products. So if you’re dabbling in a vegan or vegetarian diet, sitting down for a holiday feast with your family—or any meal for that matter—can be stressful. But it doesn’t have to be.
Instead of getting stressed, Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, a plant-based registered dietitian and owner of Plant-Based Eats in Stamford, CT, says you can use these holiday meals as an opportunity. Thanksgiving is a great way to introduce meatless recipes to your family.
“Whether you’re fully plant-based or not, I’d really encourage you to make plant-based options part of your Thanksgiving meal,” she tells Brightly. “Vegetables such as spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are so good for you.”
If you or your loved ones are on the fence about plant-based recipes, try planning your plant-based meals around what you think you and your guests may like. Familiar herbs and seasoning can help, too. “I think some people are hesitant to try out plant-based eating. Especially vegan turkey alternatives, because they think they won’t taste good,” she says.
But even the pickiest eaters will be surprised at all the flavorful options on the market. Options that aren’t just delicious, but also have the planet in mind. Ready to create a plant-based feast of your own? Here are Gorin’s top vegan turkey alternatives to try this season.
The Best Vegan Turkey Alternatives, According to a Registered Dietitian
This plant-based turkey alternative is loaded with brown rice, cranberries, and kale. It even comes with two vegan gravy packets for extra flavor.
Why Amy Recommends It: “It has a base of wheat flour, soy protein isolate, and vital wheat gluten. It gets most of its filling protein—19 grams per serving—from these ingredients. The ‘turkey’ also provides a little bit of fiber per serving. I like that you also get 15 percent of the daily value for iron per serving.”
2. Baked Tofu
Tofu, which is made from soybeans, can be used in several dishes. Some tofu is softer with a higher water content, making it great for sauces like Alfredo. Others are more firm with a spongey texture that soaks up marinades, making it a great vegan turkey alternative.
Why Amy Recommends It: “It’s a little outside of the Thanksgiving box, but baked tofu is so delicious. I use extra-firm tofu and make sure to drain out as much water as possible. Tofu provides both fueling protein and fiber.”
Adding this vegan turkey to your Thanksgiving feast will show your family you don’t need meat to have an amazing holiday roast.
Why Amy Recommends It: “This is what my mom used to get for me so I wouldn’t feel left out on Thanksgiving. The stuffing is a really fun addition that makes any plant-based eater feel like they’re getting the full Thanksgiving experience.”
Field Roast has a few different plant-based roasts perfect for the holidays. This option gets a burst of flavor from porcini mushroom gravy and contains nostalgic sage, garlic, and bread stuffing.
Why Amy Recommends It: Amy was intrigued by Field Roast’s Smokey Forager’s Roast: “It looks delicious with foraged chanterelle mushrooms,” she says. While that option is currently unavailable, this one is a great alternative.
Tempeh is another great meat alternative. Just like tofu, the fermented food is made of soybeans. It has a nutty flavor, is great at absorbing seasonings and sauces, and contains plenty of protein.
Why Amy Recommends It: “I love the texture of this wonderful plant-based protein. And you get a ton of nutrition: A 3-ounce serving offers 16 grams of protein. You also get 7 grams of fiber per serving, making tempeh an excellent source.”
If you don’t want to bring an entire vegan turkey to a holiday gathering, this pre-sliced option is a great alternative. Simply heat it up, add it to your plate, and load up on all the sides.
Why Amy Recommends It: “While the turkey roast is super fun, I’ve brought over just the ‘turkey’ slices to friends’ houses when I knew that I would be the only one eating faux turkey. After all, I hate to have food go to waste!”
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