Mashed potatoes, stuffing, lasagna, cranberry sauce, corn, biscuits, turkey, ham. These dishes are commonly associated with Holiday dinnertime feasts, unless of course, you’re either a vegan or vegetarian. Though it’s a statistic commonly overlooked, 5% of the country’s population describe themselves as vegetarians, with about half of those folks describing themselves as vegans as well. The critical difference between these two gastro-lifestyle choices is that a vegetarian does not eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry, while vegans abstain from eating any of the aforementioned products as well as dairy and eggs. Since sometimes a vegetarian/vegan visitor to the holiday table can throw a monkey wrench of sorts into the creation of the feast, the Billows went out to see what sorts of dining alternatives are suitable for a vegan holiday meal.
One of the many replacement side dishes we came across was Sourdough potato bread as an alternative to common bakery rolls and biscuits. This type of bread is free of any eggs, milk, and butter that violate the vegan diet. If the average vegetarian would prefer having regular, old sliced white bread, it may be helpful to note that most pre-sliced store bread does not contain eggs, butter, or milk. Things get more interesting when considering eclectic concoctions like “Tofurky”, a common replacement to the classic poultry party-starter. Tofurky, which looks like more of a distant relative of meatloaf than turkey, is a dish that contains a stuffing wrapped in tofu and baked as the turkey would have been in the more typical carnivorous mode. Desserts such as pies or cookies have a much easier vegan fix, with egg and dairy substitutes that could be used to better fit the cook’s vegetarian standards.
Vegetarianism, as well as Veganism, has often come in conflict with common, global cultural dining choices. With the popularity of Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas ham, and 4th of July burgers, vegetarians have always had to find clever replacements for the main course, whether it be tofurky or veggie-burgers. Regardless of whether they eat tofu or just a healthy salad, vegetarians are able to retain their meat-free philosophy throughout the holidays. It seems in the modern-day then that the main holiday feast-planning dilemma has become, “tofurky or not tofurky?”