Turkey day is only a few days away, and Americans across the country are preparing for the annual day of thanks, followed by the day of supermarket and mall chaos — black friday. But to be prepared to scavenge for the best deals in stores and online, it is an accepted fact that a well-stuffed belly (and a well-stuffed turkey) is a must.

However, for vegetarians, vegans and other dietarily restricted folks out there a belly for battle is harder to achieve. Gathering with friends and family it’s likely we all know someone with a dietary restriction — or two — myself included.

This Thanksgiving have no qualms about what will be served for dinner, as there are modern options for all. Turkey may be known as the cornerstone of Thanksgiving dinner, but it doesn’t have to be. Soy options are available at most local grocery stores, meaning vegetarians and vegans can enjoy tofurkey, and even vegetarian stuffing.



Vegetarian stuffing can be made by substituting vegetable broth for meat broth, and if this meal is for vegans butter can be eliminated from the equation as well, just use olive oil “butter.” Walnuts and almonds can be added to vegetarian stuffing and dressing if sufficient protein is a concern, and it adds an extra element of fall flavor.

For those New Mexican families who prefer traditional New Mexican foods for Thanksgiving, Posole and Green Chili Stew can easily be made into vegetarian or vegan options as well — all while providing meat eaters with their favorite options. Again, make sure to substitute any meat broth with vegetable broth and cook both dishes for several hours longer than meat based dishes (on simmer) to assure the flavors are strong and spicy.

Vegan tamales can also be made out of red chili, vegetarian refried beans, vegan cheese and traditional corn masa. Make sure that the corn masa is made with vegetable shortening instead of lard, which contains pig fat.

Another option for those that eat fish but not meat is a traditional clam chowder. Clam chowder is more commonly served in areas near the ocean given the abundance of fresh seafood but makes for a delicious dish alongside mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.

For those that are lactose intolerant or gluten free, it is possible to include options for these eaters too. Creating dairy-free mashed potatoes is much more scrumptious than it sounds. Olive oil based “butter” can be substituted for butter and chicken broth or vegetable broth can be substituted for cream. For those feeling particularly adventurous, soy milk or almond milk can be added in small amounts to create the creamy texture of traditional mashed potatoes.

Stuffing can be made gluten free by substituting traditional wheat-based bread for cornbread. Since cornbread is often found at the Thanksgiving dinner table, this variation is easy to accommodate. Gluten free breads can also be used to create stuffing that tastes nearly identical to wheat based stuffing. Most grocery stores sell some form of gluten free bread.

Even pies can be made lactose-free and gluten-free. Pumpkin pie crusts can be made out finely chopped walnuts to create a flour-free crust base. Instead of cream, almond or soy milk can be added to the pumpkin pie filling to create a lactose free dessert.

Likely as not, someone at your thanksgiving gathering will have some sort of dietary restriction not mentioned in this list, in which case the internet and its host of recipes is your new best friend. No doubt all your guests will have bellies filled for a day of thanks and the bane of American existence — Black Friday.

Megan Holmen is the assistant news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at assistant-news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @megan_holmen.