Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dead Turkeys & Butter Rolls: How to Survive Thanksgiving as a Vegan

Note from Kelsey: Today's guest post is by Jenny Manley of Crumbs on My Laptop, an aspiring writer and vegan chef that I met through Twitter. Today she'll be talking Thanksgiving dinner and the typical reactions us vegans face during the holidays and has included some tasty dishes. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reconnect with family and friends and be thankful for all that we have. It’s also a time to eat copious amounts of dead turkey. This can be a problem for those of us vegans who choose to abstain from buying or consuming animal products, not just for the obvious reasons, but because the Thanksgiving meal is such an intimate affair.

If you don’t eat your grandmother’s 3,000 year old recipe for stuffing or your aunt’s infamous butter rolls, you risk ruining the entire celebration. Translation: evil stares from every member of your family while sitting at the dinner table, pursed lips and shakes of the head at your blatant display of vegan tofurkey, hushed whispering in the kitchen about your protein deficiency and residual teen angst from over a decade ago, and eventual shunning from post dinner drinks and board games.

Your instinct might make you want to throw your tofurkey across the table while yelling about the inhumane slaughtering of turkeys, but trust me, that will only alienate you further and confirm their suspicions that your anger is due to malnutrition. Instead, try to see your lifestyle from their perspective, and realize that your veganism is forcing them to question how they think about food, animals, and their health.

Even if you don’t bring up animal rights or vegan nutrition at the dinner table, your plate will speak volumes. I always find that the less I say about my diet, the more I draw people in. So instead of ranting about the murdered bird on their plate, calmly eat your tempeh sausage collard wraps and wait for them to come to you. Food is as personal as religion and politics. If you tread lightly, you’ll survive the holidays and perhaps even tempt others to explore a vegan lifestyle!

In addition, if you’re spending Thanksgiving at a family member’s or friend’s home, call ahead and tell the host that you’ll bring a few vegan dishes, and not to stress about cooking something special for you. This will take a lot of stress off of your host and will eliminate the probability of your diet becoming a huge inconvenience. In fact, cook my vegan tempeh sausage collard wraps and everyone will be jealous of your yummy plate! This recipe is vegan, gluten free, nightshade free, and free of processed sugars!

Tempeh Sausage Collard Wraps with Cranberry Sauce & Avocado

1 package tempeh, crumbled (I recommend SoyBoy Five Grain Tempeh)
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs poultry seasoning
3/4 cup stock (I recommend No-Chicken Broth)
2 tbs mirin or white wine
1 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp tamari or shoyu
2 large collard leaves, stems removed (you should have 4 wraps)
1 avocado, sliced
1 tbs cranberry sauce (see recipe below)
Sea salt & fresh black pepper to taste

In a sauté pan, heat oil on a medium flame. Once hot, add crumbled tempeh and cook without stirring for 3 minutes, or until tempeh begins to brown. Add poultry seasoning and deglaze with mirin, scraping up any stuck pieces of tempeh from the pan using a wooden spoon. Pour in the stock, tamari/shoyu, and nutritional yeast, and allow to simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Meanwhile, steam collard wraps in another pan with salted boiling water for 1-2 minutes. To assemble wraps, place a few slices of avocado, a scoop of tempeh sausage, and a dollop of cranberry sauce on the upper third of a collard wrap. Slowly roll the top of the collard over the mixture and continue until completely wrapped. Optional: serve over forbidden rice or sweet potatoes. Makes 4 wraps.

Festive Cranberry Sauce

1 bag fresh or frozen cranberries (if frozen, allow to thaw in the fridge for a few hours before using)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup coconut nectar or natural sweetener of choice (I recommend Coconut Secret's Coconut Nectar)
Pinch each of nutmeg & cinnamon

In a saucepan, bring water and orange juice to a boil. Add cranberries and return to a boil, then pour in coconut nectar and spices. Simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes or until berries burst open. Makes about 2 cups of sauce.

About Jenny and Crumbs on My Laptop 
I am an aspiring writer and vegan chef. I love riding horses, listening to music, hiking with my husband and dog, and waking up really early. I love the smell of rain. I believe in unicorns and many of my friends are faeries. I could live on avocados, pickles, and bread. I am convinced that sugar is the devil and feeds cancer. On the topic of cancer, I am terrified of my cell phone and only use speaker phone for fear of radiation and eventual tumors in my ears. I consume an extraordinary amount of kombucha and raw nut cheese. I love to movie quote and always insult others when they incorrectly quote a line.

Kelsey is a passionate vegan living in Houston, Texas, spreading the word about the benefits of eating a healthy, plant-based diet. She's also a minimalist enthusiast, a self-proclaimed financial guru of her household, and founder of The Little Red Journal.

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