thanksgiving food
Photo by Merwing Little Dear

‘Twas the week before Thanksgiving, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The turkey lay in the deep freeze below, a magnificent beast, the family lined in a row, all ready to feast.

Vegan – Gluten Free – Vegetarian – Lactose Free

But wait — your daughter just confided that she’s gone vegan and she says her new boyfriend is a vegetarian! Now what? If you’re planning on cooking a deliciously traditional Thanksgiving meal for family and friends, it’s probably be hard to imagine changing it up to accommodate those special diets. But really it can be done with a little recipe tweaking. It doesn’t have to be a huge production, and it’ll probably go a long way toward making those guests feel at home.


The first thing that comes to mind when people think of Thanksgiving is a beautifully browned and roasted turkey as the centerpiece of the meal. The meal is complemented by stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole (sometimes with ham or bacon), and even chicken pot pie. So the idea of a feast without any meet or animal products is unfathomable.

But it can be done. Start by gathering as much information as you can about the vegan guests’ preferences, and try to make one main dish that fits their needs that the rest of your guests will enjoy as well.

Ideas for What to Serve Vegan Thanksgiving Guests

Consider making a vegan vegetable pot pie or lasagna. And look for vegan gravy options among your Thanksgiving recipes.

Vegan Holiday Treat

Eggless Nog

Gluten Free

If a few guests have gone gluten-free, either as a weight-loss regimen or for a health condition, their diets can tend be much easier to accommodate for Thanksgiving than vegan ones. You really just want to avoid using any kind of wheat or white flour in your recipes, and look for gluten-free indicators on packaging. People who follow gluten-free diets can eat turkey or ham or whatever main meat you’ve prepared for the main dish, just be mindful of any sauce or gravy you drizzle on it. Perhaps you could carve off a few portions before bringing out the finishing touches.

Ideas for what to Serve Gluten Free Thanksgiving Guests

For the side dishes, try to have a few that fit the gluten-free mold. Sweet potatoes, roasted vegetables, and cranberry sauce are all options that can be made up with little or no changes to the way you’re used to preparing them. You can make gluten free cookies and pies too; just look for gluten free flour at the grocery store. There are plenty of recipes for gluten free dessert options online too.


If there’s going to be a few vegetarians in your midst this Thanksgiving, make sure to offer some meat-less options for the entrée, as well as side dishes. It’s important to include an entrée they can eat to make them feel welcomed and valued. Often vegetarians end up sticking to side dishes at holidays. You don’t want to sideline anyone.

Ideas for What to Serve Vegetarian Guests

So ask them what their favorite main dish is and plan on creating it for them. Furthermore, you could aim for vegetarian chili or break out of your comfort zone and try preparing a tofu dish.

Vegetarian Stuffing

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Lactose Intolerant

Those who are lactose intolerant are used to not being able to eat or drink everything on the menu. Keep that in mind as you decide which dishes to prepare and how to prepare them.

Ideas for What to Serve Lactose Free Guests

Look for ways around using dairy products in your recipes and offer a wide selection of beverages for people to enjoy. Egg nog is a delightful holiday favorite, but plan to have other options like a wine selection for the adults and juice or soft drinks for the little ones.

Pumpkin Pie  Recipe (No Milk)

Pastry for 1 pie
3 egg replacements (I use oil/water/vinegar)
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups pumpkin
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup nutriwhip or coconut milk (unwhipped)
2/3 cup soymilk
Line pie pan with pastry. In a large mixing bowl, combine egg replacements, sugar, pumpkin, and spices. Blend well. Slowly mix in Nutriwhip and soymilk. Pour into pie shell. Bake on bottom rack in 425 degrees F oven for 10 minutes. Turn heat down to 325 F and continue to bake for about 1 1/2 hours or until a knife inserted near the center of the pie comes out clesn. Cool.
Whip Nutriwhip and spread over pie before serving. Creamy texture and yummy flavor.
Any time you prepare a meal for a large group of people, there will be many preferences and dietary needs to cater to. While it may not be possible to completely change the menu, if you follow this advice, you’ll be able to easily welcome everyone to your table this year — special diets and all.


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Latest posts by Families Online Magazine (see all) Online MagazineThanksgivingCooking and Recipes,Health,Nutrition,Thanksgiving'Twas the week before Thanksgiving, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The turkey lay in the deep freeze below, a magnificent beast, the family lined in a row, all ready to feast. Vegan - Gluten Free - Vegetarian - Lactose Free But wait --...Parenting and Family Fun Activities for Kids