Literally 50 Side Dishes You Can Make Without Animal Products This Thanksgiving

From tiny cornbread loaves to shiitake gravy, I’ve got you covered for a delicious, cruelty-free holiday feast

Image for post
Image for post
Image: Pixabay

get it: Thanksgiving is very serious business in households across the U.S. If you dare to go rogue and stray from Aunt Eddie’s trusted cranberry sauce by using pecans instead of walnuts, grown-ass adults can transform into pouty toddlers faster than you can say “sacrilege.” So, if you suggest replacing the customary dead turkey with a plant-based main dish as the centerpiece, as I did earlier this week, you know things are going to get tense in some families. Buckle up, buttercups!

Take this, for example: Two years ago, a recipe I created that was published by the NY Times for Brussels sprouts sliders inspired such a mass outrage when it was re-posted on Twitter that it very nearly brought our divided country together in a unified, if irrational, voice of righteous disapproval because it dared to suggest these tender flavor-bombs belonged on the Thanksgiving table. Given the fact that I was called out by media outlets as varied as BuzzFeed and Country Living for creating these “abominations,” I have a bit of a personal connection to how wrong — though hilarious — things can go when you try to reinterpret the food around this holiday.

Also, having been vegetarian and then vegan since the 1980s — it was a totally tubular time — I know that people take their Thanksgiving traditions very seriously. There’s nothing like getting the evil eye at a Thanksgiving table to remind you that some people will tolerate your annoying herbivorous self the rest of the year but on the fourth Thursday of November, all bets are off.

Why can’t you vegans just eat around the turkey?

First, um, no. Gross. Would you “eat around” something that disgusts or deeply saddens you? Second, it’s not only the meat industry that brutalizes animals; the dairy and the egg industries not only buttress the meat industry as outlets of profitability for mining what can be extracted from animals’ bodies, but these industries are just as cruel and exploitative as the actual flesh trade. Besides, the animals end up being slaughtered when they are no longer considered productive at the end of their short lives anyway. (Please check out my Myth of Harmlessness series on the dairy and egg industries to learn more.)

Now that I got all that out of the way, I have to say that I am not here to cajole anyone or talk about unsavory things. Quite the opposite: I am here to talk about savory things. Very savory things. The fact is, we can enjoy all the customary foods we associate with Thanksgiving by simply using plant-based ingredients instead of animal-based ones, and we get to enjoy the day with a clean conscience and appreciative bellies. As these talented recipe developers prove, there is no sacrifice to vegan food.

Here are 10 categories and 50 recipes of assorted plant-based deliciousness any Thanksgiving meal would be lucky to include.

Five Bread-y Things

Image for post
Image for post
Image: RawPixel

Buttermilk Biscuits with Garlic and Sage (My Darling Vegan)

Spinach Artichoke Ring (The Vegan Mos)

Sweet Potato Buns (Two Green Peas)

Easy Vegan Dinner Rolls (Loving it Vegan)

Petite Jalapeño Cornbread Loaves (Vegan Miam)

Five Zesty Cranberry Sauces

Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Shutterstock

Perfect Cranberry Sauce(Food Network)

Fresh Orange-Cranberry Sauce with Walnuts (Epicurious)

Cranberry Sauce with Port and Figs (Bon Appetit)

Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish Recipe (use vegan sour cream) (Susan Stamberg via NPR)

Homemade Cranberry Sauce (Vegan in the Freezer)

Five Perfect Soups

Image for post
Image for post
Image: RawPixel

Curried Pumpkin Soup (My Darling Vegan)

Roasted Garlic, Parsnip and White Bean Soup (Yummy Beet)

Cheesy, Creamy Kale Soup (Vegan Street)

Hearty Roasted Mushroom Bisque (Spabettie)

Curried Carrot Soup with Tarragon Oil (Food & Wine)

Five Fabulous Salads

Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Old Design Shop

Delicata, Brussels Sprouts and Hazelnuts Salad (Dishing Up The Dirt)

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Panzanella (Oh She Glows)

Kale, Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Salad (AICR Blog)

Autumn Harvest Salad (The Full Helping)

Hearty Wild Rice, Arugula and Wild Rice Salad with Ginger Dressing (Cookie and Kate)

Five Satisfying Stuffings

Image for post
Image for post
Image: Old Design Shop

Pumpkin Bread and Tempeh Stuffing (Vegan Richa)

Southern-Style Cornbread Dressing (Fatfree Vegan Kitchen)

The Best Thanksgiving Stuffing Ever (Julie’s Kitchenette)

Sourdough Bread Stuffing (Vegan Huggs)

Vegan Stuffing Recipe (Gena Hamshaw via NY Times)

Five Good Gravies

Red Wine Gravy (A Virtual Vegan)

Best Ever Vegan Mushroom Gravy (Stacey Homemaker)

Shallot Shiitake Gravy (Oh My Veggies)

Perfect Gravy (BOSH!)

Gravy with Caramelized Onions (Champagne Tastes)

Five Tender Roasted Veggie Dishes

Image for post
Image for post
Image: Internet Archive

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cinnamon Butternut Squash with Pecans and Cranberries (Julia’s Album)

Apple Cider Brussels Sprouts (Chef Chloe)

Brussels Sprouts Sliders (You know it, baby!) (Vegan Street)

Holiday Roasted Vegetables (Delish)

Whole Roasted Cauliflower Skillet (Hot for Food Blog)

Roasted Parsnips and Carrots (Ina Garten via Food Network)

Five Sweet Potato Things

Sweet Potato Casserole (Aldi US)

Marshmallow-Topped Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole (Connoisseurus Veg)

Smashed Sweet Potato Fritters, Pistachio-Pumpkin Seed Crusted (Happy Healthy Life)

Hassleback Sweet Potatoes (My Darling Vegan)

Sweet Potatoes Au Gratin (Tasty)

Five Regular Potato Things

Image for post
Image for post
Image: Free Vintage Illustrations

Garlic Herbed Scalloped Potatoes (Eat Figs, Not Pigs)

Dad’s Pine Nut and Glazed Onion Vegan Mashed Potatoes (Vedged Out)

One-Pot Tater Tot Casserole (Holy Cow Vegan)

The Best (and Easiest) Vegan Garlic Mashed Potatoes (It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken)

Scalloped Potatoes (Nora Cooks)

Five Assorted Side Dishes of Deliciousness

Green Bean Casserole (Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen)

Harvest Vegetable Mash with Roasted Garlic, Horseradish and Fried Dukkah (The First Mess)

Truffled Macadamia Nut Brie (Vedged Out)

Creamy Artichoke Spinach Dip (Dreena Burton)

Creamed Spinach (Plant-Based Cooking)

Written by

Marla Rose is a Chicago-area writer and co-founder of and

Sign up for Love Me, Tenderly

By Tenderly

Tenderly's vegan newsletter delivers delicious plants, liberated animals, and the perspectives of vegans all over the world.  Take a look

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

A vegan magazine that’s hopefully devoted to delicious plants, liberated animals, and leading a radical, sustainable, joyful life