Vegetarian Thanksgiving: What to Eat When You’re Not Having Meat

Being vegetarian around holidays steeped in meaty tradition can be difficult. Those who don’t eat meat can feel left out from the celebrations or feel they’re making too much fuss. Holidays should be about good food, good friends, and good wine; not whether or not there will be appropriate food. As concerns about global warming, factory farming, and chronic disease grow, perhaps it’s time to start some new traditions.

Whether dining at the homes of friends or family, or serving a feast at your own abode, a vegetarian centrepiece is eye-catching and can take the place of the meat or turkey, if necessary. Decorate the platter with fresh herbs and invite others to help themselves.

Alternatives to Lentil Loaf include individually-plated dishes like Harvest Stuffed Squash, Stuffed Zucchini,or baked pasta.

For those hosting the celebration but missing the traditional preparation of the Bird, try a Tofurky or Quorn Roast, available at specialty and some grocery stores.

Some vegetarians prefer not to make a fuss and eat what they can at a given situation. This may or may not suffice, depending on the host. Imagine a dinner of turkey, potatoes made with gravy, Caesar salad with bacon, and pie crust made with lard! It is always best to be prepared, or (at very least), politely ask the host what will be served. Some substitutions or omissions may be useful. Learn more about Cooking for Vegetarians to know what is (and is not) appropriate to serve.

This version of Lentil Loaf is a classic. It is high in protein, yet free from soy. It is flavourful and has a lovely texture – this “meatloaf” is a perfect starter vegetarian dish. Appreciate it for what it is and not for its semblance to meat.

Smaller than a turkey, baking Vegetarian Meatloaf leaves plenty of room in the oven for roasting vegetable side dishes like sweet potatoes, turnip, or squash.

Vegetarian “Meatloaf” with Oats Recipe

Serves 6.

Takes 10 minutes to prepare and 30-40 minutes to cook.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (19 oz.) can lentils, drained, rinsed, and slightly mashed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup rolled oats (quick or large flake)
  • ¾ cup grated old cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ – 2/3 cup spaghetti sauce or barbecue sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • ¼ – 1/2 tsp. seasoning salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Celsius.
  2. Mix lentils, onion, oats, and cheese in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Add the beaten egg and mix well.
  4. Add the sauce, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and pour/scrape the lentil mixture in. Even out the top surface with a spatula or fork.
  6. Bake uncovered 30-40 minutes or until top is golden and crispy.
  7. Let cool at least 5 minutes.
  8. Turn out onto serving platter and garnish with parsley, if desired.

Variations:

Add chopped celery, different sauces, different cheeses (or no cheese!) or try more traditional poultry spices instead of the Italian ones. Serve with all the ‘fixins: mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, squash, and salad.

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