Thanksgiving is a day where everyone you love comes together, the uniting factor being food. So what happens when you have guests who have special diets? How do you serve a satisfying menu without straying too far from traditional Thanksgiving fare?
Every year, concerned hosts who want to make sure their vegan, vegetarian, paleo, or gluten-free guests don't leave hungry come to the Hotline for help. We have a summary of the best solutions—substitution is the name of the game.
The Pros Propose
If you like the idea of serving a meat alternative that doesn't come out of a box, try Andrea Nguyen's homemade tofurkey, complete with a vegetarian version of her family's sticky rice dressing.
Mollie Katzen suggests serving a large platter of olive oil-roasted vegetables. She says: "Most food restrictions fall under vegan, gluten-free, or nut-allergy categories. Almost all restricted eaters can eat vegetables and olive oil—it's pretty safe territory." She also notes that it can be hard for non-dairy eaters to enjoy many traditional Thanksgiving preparations of potatoes and sweet potatoes, so be sure to include them in your roasted vegetable medley.
Anita Shepard has multiple suggestions for vegan desserts. For pie crusts, try subbing 3 parts non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening and one part coconut, safflower, or olive oil in place of the butter. To replace an egg, she uses 1 tablespoon flax blended with 3 tablespoons warm water until gooey. And for a custardy pie, she uses chestnut flour and full-fat coconut milk instead of egg and milk, and kabocha squash in place of pumpkin.