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No-turkey Turkey Day?

Meatless memories are possible during holiday season

  • Updated
  • 2 min to read

Eating meat during the holidays has been a tradition for centuries, but today there are different options out there for those choosing a more plant-based lifestyle.

Grocery freezers are stocking up with frozen vegan holiday roasts and other such offerings.

“A tofur-what?!” said each meat-eating person to their sole vegetarian family member.

Tofurky is a popular main dish that’s being served in today’s holiday meals. It consists of wheat and tofu and has stuffing-like ingredients in the middle. Warm that up in the oven, and the 10-pound turkey will have some competition.

Vegan and vegetarian lifestyles are becoming more popular as time goes by. There’s a good chance you know someone who is either and if you don’t, well let me be your first.

I began plant-based eating in May of 2015. I mostly started for health reasons (I was addicted to junk and fast food) and later became surer of my decision when I learned of the ethical reasons behind the lifestyle – i.e. cruelty-free eating and living.

I was a bit unaware of all the new options that were out there for vegetarians and vegans during the holidays, so my first Thanksgiving as one was a bit rough. I mostly filled my plate up with mashed potatoes and mustard (don’t knock it ’til you try it; and then if you hate it, be my guest), green bean casserole and stuffing (stuffing made out of vegetable broth). It wasn’t until the following year I discovered the meat substitutes like Tofurky, vegan ham and plant-based recipes for gravy, sweet yams and vegan rolls.

When I brought home my first Tofurky with a vegan mushroom gravy recipe, all my carnivore family members were skeptical. They tried it, though, which is something that not many family members do.

In the subsequent years, my dad decided to stick with the traditional turkey, ham and home-made turkey gravy, but my mom has switched over halfway to plant-based. She makes sure to gather pieces of Tofurky and pour mushroom gravy over everything worthy of the sauce.

I still haven’t avoided the occasional plant-based teasing every year, but at least the ones who make the jokes still have a bit of my meat-less alternatives, even my brother who’s an avid hunter and meat-eater.

Mushroom gravy is a vegetarian- and vegan-friendly option for Thanksgiving, other holidays or for a weeknight meal. It can be poured over traditional mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, green beans and even non-holiday foods such as French bread, chicken sandwiches, potato fries, burgers, biscuits and sausage. This gravy substitute is not only a godsend for those vegetarian family members who dread family get-togethers, but it is carnivore approved!

For the skeptical chefs out there, the flavor for this recipe comes from the mushrooms, caramelized onions and poultry seasoning. The mushrooms contribute to the texture and hardiness. The poultry seasoning incorporates a meat-like flavor in the sauce.

Vegan Mushroom Gravy Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup Bella mushrooms (chopped)

1 small white or yellow onion (minced)

¼ cup margarine (Earth Balance for the vegan option)

1-2 ½ cups vegetable broth (amount varies)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

¼ cup flour

¾ tablespoon poultry seasoning

Dashes of salt and pepper, to taste

1. Gather the meatless ingredients. In a large skillet, melt the butter, then add onions. Sauté for a few minutes until onions are caramelized, then add mushrooms until they are brown.

2. Reduce heat, then add the flour – pour in slowly and stir quickly to avoid flour clumps. The goal here is to coat the onions and mushroom with the flour to have a paste-like texture. Once that is achieved, add the vegetable broth – continue to stir quickly and keep adding broth until it acquires a gravy-like consistency.

3. Add seasonings, stir again. Remove from the heat and let the gravy thicken – feel free to add more vegetable broth to thin the texture or add flour to thicken it.

4. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.

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Holly has an associate's degree in anthropology and a bachelor’s degree in English, with an emphasis in creative writing. She has moved to the area from southern California and shares her life with a Siberian husky and three rescue cats.

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