The best thing about the Thanksgiving meal is the gravy.
And for this vegan, mashed taters and mushroom gravy are heaven on a plate.
To be vegan means I only eat plants and foods made from plants. I don’t eat meat, fish, dairy, or eggs. Unlike some people, I’m not evangelical about my dietary choice. I simply bring my own food wherever I go.
I choose this diet because I have an autoimmune form of arthritis triggered by dairy and animal proteins. I have been pain-free since adopting this lifestyle in 2012. In terms of money, it’s far less expensive, as beans are my go-to protein source, and a variety of vegetables are relatively inexpensive. Other family members have more ethical reasons for not eating animals–if you are curious as to the many reasons for choosing a vegan lifestyle, click here.
We’re going to daughter number two’s house this year. I am bringing vegan foods, as there will be several vegans there besides me. I make my mashed potatoes with lots of Earth Balance margarine (100% plant-based, unlike most margarines) and I also throw in a heft dollop of Sour Supreme (Tofutti’s brand of vegan sour cream). We don’t make mashed potatoes very often, as we are careful about the amount of fat we normally consume, but this is a special meal.
This year I am making everything gluten free that I can, because my daughter’s mother-in-law has celiac disease, and anything with gluten will make her terribly ill. I found an amazing recipe for that most delicious of comfort foods, gluten-free mushroom gravy as created by Molly Katzen. I’m also making a crustless pumpkin custard–the vegan pumpkin pie filling in custard dishes rather than in a pie shell. Wheat flour is the natural source of gluten, so there will be no wheat in anything I make and bring to this event.
I am not a fan of that well-known holiday staple, the Tofurkey, although many vegans are. I prefer to just eat the side-dishes and I do go a little wild on the vegan cheese tray. Miyoko’s Kitchen makes the most amazing spreadable cheese, and it’s all plant-based. It’s quite expensive, but for a special occasion it is so worth it.
I’m playing around with the idea of stuffed squash boats, using a savory wild-rice pilaf to stuff them with, if I can find the perfect squash. Or perhaps I’ll stuff the pilaf into those colorful little mini-peppers.
Regardless, it will be a famdamily free-for-all as four of our five children will be there along with their extended families. The grandchildren will be running wild, our daughter’s kitchen will be packed, seven conversations will be occurring at once, and the noise level will approach that of a space-shuttle launch.
No longer the main cooks, my husband and I and the other older people will keep the grandparental eye on the littlest grandkids so their parents can get the meal ready to be served. When the tables are set, and the prayer is said, we old people will be thankful for our many, many blessings.
Here in the US, Thanksgiving “traditionally” marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, but I tell you this now: Being in the company of our children and their children, and sharing this meal with our children’s in-laws is a gift more precious than anything that could arrive wrapped in tissue paper.
The dinner will be loud, and not always polite as the youngest are still learning manners. There will be the lovingly waged war between the vegans and the carnivores. We will find common ground in the mashed potatoes and the two different kinds of gravy. But chaotic and messy though it will be, it will be a table full of love and that is a dish no one can pass up. This large, noisy, sometimes dysfunctional family we have blended from so many disparate pieces is the only real treasure we have. My husband and I are filled with gratitude for every minute we have in their company, grateful in ways that can’t be expressed with mere words.
Vegan Gluten Free Gravy recipe here
Vegan Mashed Potatoes recipe here