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A vegetarian Thanksgiving
November 16, 2013, 05:00 AM By Janani Kumar

You know you are a vegetarian when someone asks you with a shocked expression: “Oh my God! How do you survive without fried chicken?!” and you just respond with a brief smile or just roll your eyes while screaming in your head.

But there are ways in which a vegetarian, such as myself, can celebrate the time-honored tradition of Thanksgiving, in which the main dish is, of course, meat.

I mean, just because one doesn’t eat turkey doesn’t mean that Thanksgiving is going to be a bust for them.

So this goes out to all the vegetarians out there who still want to have a (semi) normal Thanksgiving experience.

I guess what my family and I have been doing for a while is getting pre-cut tofu turkey slices, more commonly known as tofurkey, and pairing it with some traditional Thanksgiving foods, like gravy and mashed potatoes.

I suppose traditional Americans-at-heart have the whole “cook the entire turkey meal” plan memorized.

But let me tell you, as a vegetarian, it is infinitely more difficult to find vegetarian options (trust me, I have torn apart grocery stores looking).

And I was a bit apprehensive; no one in my family wanted to risk a new recipe that could result in a fiasco.

So, what to do now that I can’t have the “easy” way out?

Well, this year, my family and I are going to try to let go of the whole “this recipe could end very badly” mentality and actually give a true Thanksgiving meal a chance. Because 99 percent of store items for Thanksgiving are meat products, we vegetarians actually have little choice but to just cook the food ourselves.

I thought I would get some pointers and food ideas from my cousins, who absolutely love experimenting with new food dishes. A few years ago, they cooked a full-fledged vegetarian Thanksgiving meal. They had made everything from scratch: stuffing, green bean casserole, potato daphne, roasted root vegetables and ravioli.

I don’t know how innovative I can be this year, but I have to try some of these dishes. But I think the most fun and potentially most challenging dish will be the tofurkey. There are tons of recipes for this online, but if worse comes to worst, just buy the pre-cut deli slices from the grocery store. But for gravy, you are probably better off following an online recipe and making your own, considering that grocery stores usually only carry turkey or some meat gravy.

Oh, and don’t forget the dessert! I love all the pies: apple, pumpkin, etc. And the best part is that we vegetarians don’t need to worry about it being non-vegetarian, because they usually aren’t.

See? Turns out there are plenty of options for vegetarians on Thanksgiving. It just requires a bit more work and research. So the lesson for vegetarians to take away from this is that Thanksgiving kind of urges us to be creative and try new things. I know I will be leaving my comfort zone this Thanksgiving.

And there’s actually an added bonus to being a vegetarian during Thanksgiving. By not binge eating turkey, I find that I am more awake to conquer that Black Friday shopping, unlike those in food comas!

Janani Kumar is a senior at Burlingame High School. Student News appears in the weekend edition. You can email Student News at



Tags: thanksgiving, vegetarian, vegetarians, turkey, there, recipe,

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