A Conscious Thanksgiving Dinner: 6 Tips for Hosting a Successful Meal

vegetarian thanksgiving

Tips for ensuring your Thanksgiving dinner is as conscious as it can be. 

No matter who sits down at your Thanksgiving dinner table – the gluten intolerant, the semi-vegetarian, the raw foodist, the vegan, the grain-free, the passionate Paleo, the lactose avoider – you want to have some options. This is 2013 people, and if you think you can get away with turkey and green beans, think again.

1. If you’re serving a turkey, know where it comes from.

The list of problems related to the hundreds of millions of factory farmed turkeys raised for Thanksgiving is quite long. From sexual abuse to crippled feet and swollen joints, the factory farmed turkey industry is a nasty one. If you’re going to eat a bird, make sure you know where it comes from and how it was raised.

2. Make easy, versatile dishes

If you are stressed about accommodating a variety of dietary restrictions, pick a few dishes that will work for most people. Roasted vegetables, a bowl of marinated olives, fresh salad, a Spicy Pumpkin Hummus perhaps?

3. Think about your waste

Last year Americans wasted over $282 million of turkey; and that’s only the meat part of the meal. Take a look at who’s coming to dinner and how much food you really need to make, then get creative with your leftovers. There’s no need for food waste.

4. Offer a variety of drinks

You may have thought about the gluten-free pie and the vegan Thanksgiving side dish, but did you consider whether or not you have any guests that have knocked alcohol off their list of consumables?

5. Go for nut-based crusts

This will make the gluten-free and Paleo crowd happy. Try a walnut crust for starters. Other good nuts to make crusts with are pecans and hazelnuts.

6. Serve a substantial, plant-based main

Just because you’re not serving turkey, doesn’t mean you need to put Tofurky on the table. Come up with a delicious plant-based main instead, like stuffed squash or a hearty vegetarian casserole. The New York Times has an excellent database of vegetarian recipes for the holiday.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask

Have some dietary restrictions that you’re nervous about catering to? Ask your guests to bring their favorite dish. This makes the meal more communal anyway, and you’ll learn about a new recipe in the process.

Related on EcoSalon:

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving Dinner: The Glossies vs. Real Life

Image: The Sporkful

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.