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Tips For Planning Thanksgiving Dinner That Includes Turkey And Vegetarian Options

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By Mary

Last year, I hosted Thanksgiving dinner for our entire family. I hadn’t been the host for a number of years because our family takes turns preparing the dinner each year.

When I found out at the last minute that 2 of my nieces had become vegetarians, panic set in! How was I going to serve a traditional meal that they would eat?

After getting myself calmed down and putting away the brown paper bag I’d used to slow the hyperventilating, I began to make a plan. Research! That was the key. I would have to find out exactly how to make Thanksgiving a hit for everyone. I was determined to do just that.


I knew that other members of my family would be expecting a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and my nieces would be expecting vegetarian dishes. As I researched, I found that I could plan Thanksgiving dinner that would make all of my guests feel comfortable and satisfied when they left the table. For that to happen, I just had to do a few things differently.

Following are the best tips and links I found on how to serve a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to include guests who are vegetarian…


Here are the options I had to work with:

  • If I was going to serve turkey and all the trimmings to my meat-eating guests, I would have to serve a main course vegetarian dish as well.
  • I could bypass the turkey, but I knew that some of my guests would be very disappointed.

The option I chose was to serve lots of side dishes for my nieces — such as brown rice casserole, mashed potatoes, fried carrots (a family favorite), creamed carrots, baked butternut squash, orange glazed yams, turnips, broccoli and cauliflower.

I also made a side dish of vegetarian stuffing and vegetarian gravy for my nieces, so they would be able to enjoy the trimmings without worrying about meat being involved. I did find out that my nieces would eat dairy products and eggs, so this made things much simpler.

Dessert was simple. Pumpkin pie, apple pie, cherry cheesecake, and pineapple squares. These are all family favorites.



Thanksgiving Dinner Tips To Save Time

If you wish, you can save some time by ordering vegetarian meals through a caterer or vegetarian restaurant. These are establishments that either cater to vegetarians or specialize strictly in vegetarian dishes.

Another option is to ask guests to bring a side dish to the dinner. They will be glad to lend a hand, and it will take some of the stress out of your meal preparation time. However, if you insist on cooking the entire Thanksgiving dinner, make foods that can be frozen a week ahead. This will make things much easier on Thanksgiving Day.

Be sure to stick to recipes you are familiar with in order to make meal preparation a snap. Thanksgiving is not a time to try new recipes when you are already cooking vegetarian dishes that you’ve never made before.


So, How Did Things Turn Out?

My turkey/vegetarian dinner went off without a hitch.

There were lots of different side dishes available and I made faux turkey trimmings.

Everyone had a great  time and I received compliments from several guests, including my vegetarian nieces.

If you have vegetarian guests coming for Thanksgiving dinner, don’t despair. Today, there are many vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes available. Start planning early, so you can enjoy your guests on Thanksgiving Day.