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Creating a More Compassionate Thanksgiving Dinner

November 25, 2020

Whether you are transitioning to a more plant based diet or curious how to have a more sustainable approach, a compassionate Thanksgiving meal is a great way to start.

Although Thanksgiving has problematic origins, most Americans think of the holiday simply as a time to be with family and friends and enjoy traditional foods.

In my immediate family, the majority of us didn't even like the taste of turkey, but it was a tradition. When I suggested that we try a compassionate Thanksgiving meal, my family was open to it. I found recipes on various blogs and compiled a list of recipes that we could make. We decided to shop together for the ingredients and cooked these new recipes together as a family. The large plate that once held a turkey displayed a large mushroom walnut loaf surrounded by beautiful roasted vegetables adorned with sage.

Here are a few ways you can bring more compassion into your traditions: 

  1. Ask your family what recipe(s) is/are their favorite. For my family we found out that mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce were the top most loved recipes. Both of which were easily made 100% plant based!
  2. Plan ahead. Knowing what you are going to prepare ahead of time makes it that much easier to put together a fully plant based meal. 
  3. Go grocery shopping together or cook together and make it an experience. There are so many delicious foods that are naturally plant based and working together to prepare a delicious meal makes it a memorable moment. 
  4. Be patient. This may not be an easy transition for some individuals but if you openly communicate and work together, you can create a space for all those present to feel included in the dinner plans.

Here are a few recipes our family has been loving over the last few years since our first compassionate Thanksgiving in 2014. 


Main Course

Vegan Thanksgiving Nut Loaf

BBQ Glazed Lentil Loaf

Wellington Roast Loaf

Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls with Cranberry-Pear Sauce


Lightened Up Spring Stuffing

Sausage & Mushroom Stuffing

Creamy Vegan Potato Au Gratin - subbing sweet potatoes works great too! 

Portobello Lentil Shepard’s Pie

The Best Damn Vegan Mashed Potatoes 

Crispy Smashed Potatoes w: avocado garlic aioli 

Vegan Cream Cheese Stuffed Cornbread Muffins 

Savory Green Bean Casserole 

Simple Dinner Rolls 



Rich & Delicious Vegan Mushroom Gravy

All Purpose Cheese Sauce - perfect for dipping fresh cut veggies, crackers, or drizzling on roasted veggies! 

Cranberry Sauce



Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin Cutout Cookies

Coconut Whip


And if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, check out these Anti-Thanksgiving Vegan Recipes to Celebrate Multicultural Cuisine

What recipes will you try this Thanksgiving? What traditional foods are you able to find a plant-based alternative for? Share your Thanksgiving plans below or share your compassionate meal on social media with #compassionatedinnerinspo and don’t forget to tag #ffacoaltion and the recipe author! 

This compassionate blog post was written by our college fellow Britt Joy from @joyfullforgood. Britt is currently a Nutrition Science student who plans to incorporate a plant-based approach in her future practice as a Registered Dietician Nutritionist.