How to Have an Amazing Vegan Thanksgiving This Year

What Does It Mean to Be Vegan?

The best way to explain the vegan concept is too quickly define what vegan means, and then look at how and why the word came into existence. A vegetarian diet is commonly understood to forbid meat and fish but allows both eggs and dairy. The word vegan takes this concept to the next level, cutting out every item of animal origin. Vegan refers to anything that’s free of animal products: no meat, milk, eggs, wool, leather, honey and so forth. Your sandwich, your shampoo, and your car seats are examples of items that could be vegan.

Benefits of Being Vegan

A Vegan Diet Is Richer in Certain Nutrients

If you switch to a vegan diet from a typical Western diet, you'll eliminate meat and animal products. This will inevitably lead you to rely more heavily on other foods. In the case of a whole-foods vegan diet, replacements take the form of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds. Since these foods make up a larger proportion of a vegan diet than a typical Western diet. And they can contribute to a higher daily intake of certain beneficial nutrients. Vegan diets tend to provide more fiber, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds. They also appear to be richer in potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamins A, C, and E.

It Can Help You Lose Excess Weight

An increasing number of people are turning to plant-based diets in the hope of shedding excess weight. Many observational studies show that vegans tend to be thinner and have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than non-vegans. Even when they don’t follow their diets perfectly, the vegetarian and vegan groups still lost slightly more weight than those on a standard Western diet.

Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Improves Kidney Function

Going vegan may also have benefits for type 2 diabetes and declining kidney function. Vegans tend to have lower blood sugar levels, higher insulin sensitivity and up to a 50–78% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Studies even report that vegan diets lower blood sugar levels in diabetics more than the diets from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), American Heart Association (AHA) and National Cholesterol Education Program.

A Vegan Diet May Protect Against Certain Cancers

According to the World Health Organization, about one-third of all cancers can be prevented by factors within your control, including diet. For instance, eating legumes regularly may reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by about 9–18%. Research also suggests that eating at least seven portions of fresh fruits and vegetables per day may lower your risk of dying from cancer by up to 15%. Vegans generally eat considerably more legumes, fruit, and vegetables than non-vegans. This may explain why a recent review of 96 studies found that vegans may benefit from a 15% lower risk of developing or dying from cancer.

Additionally, avoiding certain animal products may also help reduce the risk of prostate, breast and colon cancers. However, until researchers know more, it seems wise to focus on increasing the amount of fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes you eat each day while limiting your consumption of processed, smoked and overcooked meat.

It's Linked to a Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Eating fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fiber is linked to a lower risk of heart disease. All of which are generally eaten in large amounts in well-planned vegan diets. Additionally, observational studies comparing vegans to vegetarians and the general population report that vegans may benefit from a lower risk of developing high blood pressure. In conclusion, vegans may also have up to a  lower risk of dying from heart disease.

A Vegan Diet Can Reduce Pain from Arthritis

A few studies have reported that a vegan diet has positive effects on people with different types of arthritis. One study randomly assigned 40 arthritic participants to either continue eating their omnivorous diet or switch to a whole-food, plant-based vegan diet for 6 weeks. Those on the vegan diet reported higher energy levels and better general functioning than those who didn't change their diet.

Vegan Alternatives for Thanksgiving

Vegan Thanksgiving Stuffing

Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without the stuffing, and this total meat free all vegan dish courtesy of My Darling Vegan won't disappoint. You can find the link to the recipe here.

Vegan Tofu and Vegetable Pot Pie

Everyone loves a good pot pie. And this all-vegetable vegan alternative from TheKitchn.com is bringing you all the goodness in this vegan tofu and vegetable pot pit. You can find a link to the recipe here.

Slow Cooker Vegan Pumpkin Curry

This delicious all vegan curry recipe courtesy of TheKitchn.com brings you all the flavors: I'm talking pumpkin, paprika, cumin, coconut milk. You name it, this dish has got it. You can find the full recipe here.

Vegan Lentil Loaf

Vegetarian blogger and food writer Amuse Your Bouche has this all vegan lentil loaf pretty much in the bag as one of the best Thanksgiving turkey alternatives. Not only is it beautiful, she even goes the extra mile to give you the vegan gravy recipe to drizzle on top for that extra wow factor. Check out the recipe here and enjoy!

Vegan Zucchini 'Meatballs'

Who doesn't like some good balls on their Thanksgiving dinner platter? This recipe brings you all the vegan balls without the meat in this delicious, not to mention beautiful Zucchini 'meatball' dish. You can find the recipe here.

Cozy Butternut, Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Stew

Oh She Glows knows how to churn out a killer vegan recipe, and this cozy butternut and sweet potato with red lentil stew is no exception. I mean what do you need? You can find the recipe here.

Vegan Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole

Who doesn't love a spicy casserole dish on Thanksgiving? This one, courtesy of Tori Avey, is bringing you all those savory ratatouille flavors from crushed garlic and roasted bell peppers to chiles and tomatoes. You can find the complete recipe here.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Gravy

Ok I hear you, shepherds pie is not traditionally served on Thanksgiving. But this vegans shepherds pie is served with gravy which IS like all things Thanksgiving. You can find the recipe here courtesy of Oh She Glows.

Butternut Squash, Kale and White Bean Pot Pie

Look out vegans, another piping hot pot pie recipe coming your way. This one courtesy of all things vegan food blogger By CHLOE. She gives you fair warning in the recipe about not being intimidated by the long list of ingredients which you really shouldn't be. It's mostly prep time and some light slicing and dicing that goes into that delicious filling that takes the longest, but trust, it's worth the effort. You can find the whole recipe here.

Corn & Artichoke Vegan Pizza

Seriously, who doesn't love all things corn, artichokes, and pizza? This vegan recipe, courtesy of Amuse Your Bouche has it all and it an excellent alternative if you're looking to go a little off the tofurky map. You can find the link to the recipe here.

Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Hands down, this wild rice stuffed acorn squash recipe courtesy of My Darling Vegan, wins the award for most beautiful turkey alternative ever. It's also relatively easy to make too and the ingredients list isn't overwhelming. All you need to do is get over the daunting task of gauging a gourd and you'll be fine. You can find the complete recipe here.

Conclusion

As you can tell, just because Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated by eating a turkey doesn’t mean you have to miss out because you’re vegan. This is only a short list of food alternatives that can be used this upcoming Thanksgiving day. So sit back, pick a few good ones, and gear up for the holiday cooking. 

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Tyler Farr
 

Tyler is an energetic nature enthusiast who is currently considering moving into a tiny house. Tyler and his wife enjoy hiking, mountain biking, camping, and doing anything in the great outdoors. He hopes that the articles he writes will help others learn how important it is to take care of the environment.

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