Scorching hot summers make us thirsty for three things: water, winter and winning. Oh yeah, we’re missing the holidays right now, with all those yummy feasts. So we’re thinking ahead (way ahead, but still, mmmm) about what we’ll eat come the big days. But if you’re like some of us and working with a plant-based diet, you know that coordinating recipes and planning dinner can be difficult – especially when meat mains are the norm.
Despite what may be more common, there’s good reason to incorporate plant-based eating into your diet. Limiting meat and animal products and upping your intake of vegetables can lower your risk for several diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and high blood pressure. It’s good for the environment, too, with one study claiming that going vegan is the ‘single best way’ to reduce our individual impact on the planet. With so many appetizing plant-based recipes available, there’s no reason to take a break from the lifestyle just because it’s a holiday.
Plant-based eating can refer to vegetarian diets, where no meat is eaten but animal products like dairy and egg are still consumed, or vegan, where even milk is a big no. Some people stick to these diets 24/7, while others incorporate plant-based eating into their life alongside meat due to the health and environmental benefits.
To make planning your holiday meals easier, we’ve gathered plenty of plant-based holiday recipes (both vegetarian and vegan) to add to your menu. Here’s a few of our favorites that are delicious enough to convert even meat eaters to the plant side. (If you're looking for gluten-free recipes, we've got you covered there, too!)
Best Vegan Holiday Dishes
These dishes are specially curated for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but many of the dishes work across holidays (or even special weeknight meals!). While it can be intimidating to design a plant-based menu for a holiday spent with meat-eaters, it’s not actually as difficult as it may seem.
Most meals center around protein, usually meat. For holiday dinners, consider making both a vegan “turkey” or “ham” alongside the usual turkey or ham. When it comes to side dishes, most can easily be made vegan with just a few tweaks. Instead of butter, use dairy-free butters or oil. Instead of milk or creams, try almond milk, oat milk, or blend cashews to create your own cream.
Lots of dishes can be made meatier by using mushrooms, chickpeas, or, if gluten isn’t an issue, vital wheat gluten (vital wheat gluten is the key to seitan, a vegan protein source that acts as the base for both the turkey and ham recipes we share here). Using spices and herbs adds a ton of flavor to meals, and ingredients like nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, and coconut aminos add interest.
Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes
Turkey is synonymous with Thanksgiving, and it’s possible to have a classic celebration without consuming any animal products. Vegan turkey can fulfill cravings for the real stuff and give your meal added protein. This recipe for Vegan Turkey, like many others, uses vital wheat gluten for a meaty texture and a browning sauce to add just-roasted flavor. It takes an hour-plus to bake, but it can be made ahead of time and reheated the day of.
Vegans might miss out on cheesy Thanksgiving sides, but by looking for nutritional yeast recipes they won’t have to go without. Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese replaces cheese with nutritional yeast and sweet potato for added nutrients with a umami cheesy taste. Nutritional yeast adds complexity to dishes, making it a wonderful addition to another Thanksgiving must-have: gravy. Miso Gravy can be made vegan with the switch to vegan butter, and miso paste (find it in the refrigerated section in most grocery stores) makes up for the lack of meat drippings.
Another Thanksgiving favorite is Green Bean Casserole, but instead of dairy-rich cream of mushroom, replace it with a homemade version using alternative milk. This Vegan Green Bean Casserole also uses vegan butter to add flavor to mushrooms and shallots.
Sweet Potato Casserole is typically loaded with sugars, but this vegan version takes advantage of the starch’s natural sweetness by baking the potatoes instead of boiling. Top it with store bought vegan marshmallows which are made without gelatin, an ingredient derived from animal collagen.
Finally, finish off the meal with Vegan Pumpkin Pie, which is rich and creamy thanks to coconut milk. By using canned pumpkin pie filling and a premade crust it’s quick to bake, too, and will taste fresher than store bought frozen pies.
While Thanksgiving is traditionally a day spent in the kitchen, by getting your meal delivered you’ll cut down on how much time you spend working on the holiday. Fitlife offers Thanksgiving Dinner Delivery for both plant-based and meat meals, and is a smart addition to your homemade dishes.
Vegan Christmas Dinner
While Thanksgiving typically has a set menu for most of the country, Christmas dinner can vary. Whether some households opt for a similar meal, others switch to ham. In this case, try Vegan Ham, which uses liquid smoke for a wood-smoked taste. Pasta dishes are a great idea for Christmas dinner, too. This Vegan Lasagna, looks festive with red marinara sauce and green basil, and gets its creaminess from blended cashews.
Mini Vegan Meatloafs are a good option for Christmas that manages to be healthy. Made with lentils and mushrooms, these are high in fiber, iron, and protein—but they’re so delicious their nutritional value will be far from your mind.
For side dishes, stuffing works for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This Vegan Stuffing recipe has a complex flavor profile with sage, pecans, and mushrooms. Or try a more traditional stuffing—this one uses flax egg, veggie broth, and lentils instead of meat.
Potatoes are usually served with lots of butter and cream, but not these Vegan Scalloped Potatoes. A heaping of nutritional yeast and a little cayenne pepper adds all the flavor of typical scalloped potatoes without requiring any animal products.
Christmas is a time filled with sweets, which are often vegetarian but usually contain dairy products and eggs. There are plenty of vegan christmas desserts to try, including vegan cheesecake. This Raspberry Vegan Cheesecake recipe includes two variations, using either raw cashews or vegan cream cheese. The raspberry adds flavor and festive color for the holiday.
For a super indulgent Christmas dessert, go with chocolate cake. Cake can be tricky because it needs to be made without eggs, butter, or dairy in order to be vegan, but this Vegan Chocolate Cake uses apple sauce for moisture and sweetness, and vegan butter sticks.
Fitlife Foods Delivers Vegan Holiday Meals
While there’s a time and place to cook your own meals, sometimes it’s better to opt for delivery—especially when the meals are as delicious as these. We offer a selection of vegetarian meals and a few vegan options, too. We have a wide selection of meat dishes available if you plan to pick up food for the non-plant based people in your life.
Beyond Beef® Meatballs are a yummy, vegetarian addition to a Spaghetti Christmas dinner. It’s made with whole wheat bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and fresh garlic, and served over spaghetti with a homemade marinara sauce. One serving has 22 grams of protein, 380 calories, and it’s full of iron and calcium.
Our Mac & Cheese is elevated with a cheesy sauce made of butternut squash and cheddar, and is topped with fresh herbs and breadcrumbs. It makes for a great vegetarian side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other holidays (or, let’s be honest, an everyday lunch). One small serving has 300 calories, 13 grams of protein, and just 11 grams of fat.
Holiday dinner isn’t complete without dessert, and our Pumpkin Cheesecake is a perfect, light ending to Thanksgiving meal. The reduced-fat cheesecake has only 7 grams of fat and 160 calories for a slice, and the flaxseed crust serves up hidden nutrients.
If you’re leaving cookies out for Santa, give him something lighter to dip into his (non-dairy!) milk. Our vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies are made without eggs or dairy, but they don’t skimp on the chocolate chips. It’s available in three sizes, but trust us when we recommend the largest.
And if you’re team peanut butter, order our 3-Ingredient PB cookies—made with just peanut butter, coconut sugar, and cage-free eggs. These gluten-free cookies have just 90 calories in 2 cookies, plus 3 grams of protein.
Order Plant-Based Holiday Meals from Fitlife Foods
Fitlife Foods delivers chef-inspired, fresh-made meals to your doorstep. But they aren’t just delicious, they’re nutritious, too. Getting meals delivered removes a major barrier to eating healthy—the part where you actually have to cook—and makes it simple to eat well no matter how busy your days get.
Ordering fresh meals for delivery during the holidays makes it easier to stick to your plant-based diet, and gives you more time to focus on cooking other dishes or to just be with friends and family.
Order vegan dishes from Fitlife Foods all year long – but don’t forget about our amazing holiday eats when Turkey days come a-calling.