Maybe you’re a vegetarian, or maybe you have a vegetarian guest coming for Thanksgiving. What are your options for this traditional turkey-dominated meal?
Evelyn Kimber, president of the Boston Vegetarian Society, says there are several approaches to take. “You can simulate the centerpiece of the turkey roast using seitan or tofurkey. Both are meat substitutes made from wheat gluten. Seitan, she notes, is a versatile plant protein; tofurkey is a blend of wheat gluten and tofu.
“You can also serve a stuffed squash or pumpkin. A tofu lasagna or squash stew (like the acorn squash soup pictured) are other good options,” she says.
This year the Boston Vegetarian Society is hosting their second annual Thanksgiving feast at a local Thai restaurant, My Thai Cafe Vegetarian. According to the invitation, the meal “celebrates the bounty of the harvest and extends peace to all animals.”
Here’s a collection of vegetarian dishes to simmer and savor on Tofurky Day from top vegetarian chefs around the country
“We’ve asked them [the restaurant] to create a menu with foods associated with the holiday. They did a fabulous job last year” she says.
Open to the public, the event drew several hundred guests over two nights.
“We had an entirely plant-based meal,” she says. “Not just vegetarian and vegans came, but also their families, some of whom were meat-eaters. We hope these meals help educate non-vegetarians to understand our lifestyle and understand what motivates us.”
One reason that motivates many vegetarians is their opposition to livestock production.
In November 2006, the United Nations issued a report on livestock production, noting that livestock production causes more greenhouse gas emissions than transportation – 18 percent more. Henning Steinfeld, chief of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and senior author of the report, said, “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.” Carbon dioxide is released when forests are cleared to create land for grazing or the growing of feed crops. Livestock production emits not only carbon dioxide but nitrous oxide, a more harmful greenhouse gas much of which is due to manure.
Sheryl Eisenberg, an advisor to the Natural Resources Defense Council, reiterates this in a recent article on eating less meat.
“Maybe everyone could get behind the idea of changing our diets — not completely, but a little, if it would help with the biggest and scariest environmental problem of all – because it could,” she says.