Vegan Holiday Recipes + My Tips For Navigating the Holidays as a Vegan



While many of you in the US are putting the finishing touches on your Thanksgiving plans, many of us Canadians are already starting to think about our December menus. Here are some of my favourite vegan holiday recipes that could suit many holiday meals, or perhaps simply a comforting dinner on a cold night!

See below for my tips on navigating the holidays as a vegan.

Soup & Salad:

Mushroom Millet Soup with Cheezy Garlic Bread


Holiday Soup for the Soul 


Spiced Red Lentil, Tomato, and Kale Soup


Holiday Salad with Cranberry Apple Orange Vinaigrette



Main Course:

Glazed Lentil Walnut Loaf


High Protein Mashed Potatoes (also see my red lentil version on VegNews)


Cranberry, Apricot and Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf

vegan pilaf-4411

This Ain’t Grandma’s Sweet Potato Casserole 


Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts with Rosemary and Garlic


Roasted Butternut Squash with Kale and Almond Pecan Parmesan


Herb & Cheese Drop Biscuits



Vegan & Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

vegan pumpkin pie gluten free-4759

Serve with Whipped Coconut Cream if you’d like…


Sinless Sticky Toffee Pecan Pudding


Pumpkin Gingerbread with Spiced Buttercream 


Pumpkin Pie Brownies



What to do with leftover pumpkin pie? Meet Vegan Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Casserole!

leftover pumpkin pie casserole-4775

Baked Apples Stuffed with Cinnamon, Date, Pecan Oatmeal


Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole


Gift Ideas:

Slow Cooker Naked Apple Butter


Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter with Hemp, Flax, and Chia or 2-Minute Apple Cinnamon PB


Homemade Pumpkin Butter From Scratch (or from a can)


I’ve received many questions over the years about how to navigate the holidays as a new vegan. The first year I was “coming out” as a vegan, I recall being so anxious about holiday get togethers! It was the first time I was seeing many family members and I was nervous about explaining it to everyone. Thankfully, I anticipated it to be much worse in my own mind than it actually was, but that isn’t to say that I didn’t have my fair share of critics, comments, and questions too.

Here are some of my tips for navigating holiday dinners as a vegan:

1. If you will be eating at a family members house, let them know well in advance that you eat a vegan diet so there aren’t any surprises on the day of. Don’t be afraid to explain it clearly as it’s not unusual for someone to think a vegan still eats butter or eggs. It’s also helpful to remind them what you DO eat! Often people can assume that vegans have a super restrictive diet, so it’s helpful to let them know all the foods that you do eat – vegetables, fruit, legumes, beans, grains, nuts/seeds, oils, soy, herbs/spices, etc or remind them of foods that are naturally vegan.

2. After letting the hosts know, offer to bring a couple vegan dishes so they don’t feel like they have to scramble to find vegan recipes. A couple good options are the lentil loaf and the Cranberry, Apricot and Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf. For the lentil loaf, I suggest slightly undercooking it the first time if you plan on reheating it in the oven just before serving (so it doesn’t dry out). If you are traveling from afar, offer to help prepare a couple vegan dishes the day before. This again would be helpful to plan out before you arrive.

3. What if you are hosting the meal as a new vegan? When I hosted my first vegan Thanksgiving back in 2010, I let my guests know that the meal would be 100% vegan – and of course delicious! If you don’t want any animal products at your meal, make this clear in advance or you might find Uncle Ted showing up with his turkey the morning of.

4. Challenge some of your open-minded guests to “veganize” one of their favourite recipes and bring it to the dinner. Make this into a competition for the “best vegan dish” at your holiday meal and award a prize to the winner each year! How fun would this be?

5. What to do about naysayers? There will always be naysayers, comments, or questions about why you eat a vegan diet – and it’s good to be able to explain it to others in a few words. Just like they tell entrepreneurs to be able to describe their business in a single sentence, it’s important to be able to communicate why you are a vegan. Plan for these questions and you won’t be thrown off by them at the dinner table. If you are feeling really uncomfortable or cornered by a critic, you can always suggest that you discuss it after the meal. It’s easy to feel outnumbered as a vegan around the holidays, so I like to keep my sense of humour. Crack a joke right or sarcasm right back to a naysayer. It doesn’t need to be so serious.

6. A delicious vegan dish can tame even the toughest critic. Win them over with the food. ‘Nough said!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic as well! Do you find it difficult to navigate the holidays as a vegan? What tips would you give to new vegans?

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{ 130 comments… read them below or add one }

Stefanie @ Thin Vegetarian November 19, 2012

I had just become a vegetarian a month before Thanksgiving last year so I modified the stuffed peppers recipe I used to make to be vegan. Stuffed veggies are always a winner even amongst the carnivores!


Angela November 19, 2012

That is a great idea…I hadn’t thought of that but yes they are always a hit, aren’t they?


Catherine November 19, 2012

Although I’m an omni & will be partaking in some “traditional” Thanksgiving foods, I can honestly say I’d prefer these dishes than some of the ones I will be eating. I enjoy finding new vegan recipes almost daily; it’s such a healthy, fresh, natural way of eating! My family is very traditional, but like I have for the past couple years, I’m going to contribute a vegetable dish. Last year it was roasted acorn squash, this year it will probably be roasted brussels sprouts. I will definitely incorporate some of these dishes into other meals this holiday season, though. I think any omni would love these dishes!


Angela November 19, 2012

I hope so too. You certainly can’t go wrong with roasted squash and/or brussels sprouts. Happy Thanksgiving Catherine!


mick November 19, 2012

This is a great post, Angela! I’m not vegan but vegetarian for the past 2.5 years, and last year I hosted my first Thanksgiving for my family. We got a free range organic turkey from a local farm for the non-vegetarians that my mom cooked, and I made your vegan lentil walnut loaf for me. It was delicious! Your recipes and outlook really inspire me, and I’m thinking more and more of making the switch to a vegan diet. I’m also an ethical vegetarian, and I love your response to others. I don’t judge them, either, but I think a lot of people fear that vegans/veggies will. Thanks for the great tips! I’m going to troll through your blog for tips on going from vegetarian to vegan now :)


janie Kiaser November 19, 2012

So many good ideas! I am still deciding what I will make… although I am really only cooking for me (all non-vegan family). At least I will have plenty of leftovers!!


luv what you do November 19, 2012

All of your desserts look amazing! But that soup for the soul looks so heart. I will have to make that this winter!


Crista November 19, 2012

this post has really inspired me as a blogger and as a vegan. thank you :)
I’m going to use a few of your recipes for my Thanksgiving dinner this year.


Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food November 19, 2012

What a great collection of recipes! They all look so delicious!


Suzanne November 19, 2012

Hi Angela,
I actually have a question regarding your Thanksgiving recipes. I just made your recipe for the apple, lentil, and walnut loaf and popped it in the freezer for Thanksgiving. My husband and I took a nibble and it was SO good – especially the glaze.

So I know that the loaf freezes well, but I’m also making your recipes for sweet potato casserole and vegan pumpkin pie. (My non-vegan parents LOVE these!) My question is: can I freeze these too? Or is it better not to? If not, how long do they keep in the fridge before Thanksgiving?

I’m trying to space out all of the cooking so I don’t go too crazy the day of. :)


Anna @ The Guiltless Life November 20, 2012

I am seriously loving the lentil walnut loaf – I can’t wait to try it this year, after many years of failed vegetarian meals!


Kari @ bite-sized thoughts November 20, 2012

I love this post – so many great recipes and really helpful advice both for vegans and friends/family of vegans :)


Averie @ Averie Cooks November 20, 2012

Although I’m not vegan anymore, I am vegetarian and don’t eat animal flesh and so turkey is not happening for me but luckily…it’s just our little family of three. So there’s no one to answer to! Or explain things to. But yes, it’s hard when I’m with people who I don’t know for the first time, I have to start from ground zero and explain things.

This is a great post, Angela! I’ll take one of everything – especially the desserts!


Sandra Tranmer November 20, 2012

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK but, having seen your beautiful and mouth-watering recipes, I won’t be able to resist preparing a little Thanksgiving feast for my son and I on Thursday. I just know he will love the pumpkin pie brownies :) and as he is the thing I am the most thankful for in the world, it seems very fitting :) xxx


Kirsten November 20, 2012

My issues is not the family as a whole, it’s that I know my boyfriend would never be supportive of me making the vegan jump, he has issues with the thought of me going back to being vegetarian (wasn’t for a few years, including when I met him). Sadly he also doesn’t take my current dietary restrictions seriously, and they are medical (Gluten and Dairy!). Any tips for that situtation?


Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers November 20, 2012

Angela, Everything looks amazing! I want to come over to your house for Thanksgiving.


Natalie @ FreshLifeFindings November 20, 2012

I think I’ll just come over to your place for Thanksgiving. Your recipes are divine and I love all the creativity you put into them! I’m definitely going to make jars of the pumpkin butter for gifts, perfect idea!


Heather November 20, 2012

Can I please please please come over for thanksgiving? I will do all the cleaning and won’t make a peep!


Ruth November 20, 2012

Thanks so much for providing these yummy recipes Angela. I do eat meat but I can’t have dairy, gluten or refined sugars cause they mess with me! I dread holidays because sweet things and dairy and gluten filled baked goods are all around me and I find it hard to say no and my body really pays the price. I feel much better now that I’m armed with your delish recipes!


Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers November 20, 2012

I’ve made your rice pilaf numerous times, and it always comes out great. I’ve also made that gingerbread loaf, and it’s wonderful too!


Alexis @ Hummusapien November 20, 2012

What a fabulous list + tips! I made your pumpkin brownie pie last year and it was super tasty :) Can’t wait to try more recipes this year!


Lauren November 20, 2012

What is that amazing-looking gravy on the mashed potatoes?


Angela (Oh She Glows) November 21, 2012

Hey Lauren, It’s a gravy I adapted from Dreena found here:


Tina November 20, 2012

Mmmm it looks so great Angela. I am making the Glazed Lentil Loaf for sure. I also want to make the Apple Sage Field Sausages as you and everyone else say they are so delish. Do you have any tips on how to best prepare them and what to serve along with them, I would like to have them whole. Thanks, ideas are happily taking from others as well.


Ashlee November 20, 2012

Last year I made your pumpkin gingerbread, holiday salad and sweet potato casserole and they were ALL huge hits! That is saying a lot since I live in Texas and my whole family is meat and taters kind of usually doesn’t fly with them unless it is fried and covered in butter!


Grandma Carol November 20, 2012

Hi Angela, I am attempting a vegan Christmas this year for my family. I have been a vegetarian for three years but always make a traditional meal for my children and grandchildren and I just eat sides. This year I am going to shake things up….hehehe. Other than the roasted fingerling potatoes with brussel sprouts, could all or most of these recipes be made in advance and frozen?


Michele November 20, 2012

I say I am “mostly” vegan, for people that want to slap a label on me. I eat vegan, but on Thursday we’ll be making turkey and having meat for the first time in a long time. It felt weird taking the little guy (6 pounds, don’t want infinite leftovers) out of the freezer, but I’d told my husband that I’d do that on major holidays if he came along for the ride…and he’s been a real trooper. Every side dish will be vegan, so I consider it a good compromise.

To make a light joke about my food choices with one of the “where do you get your protein?” people, I’ll say “I decided to cut out the middleman. I get my protein from plants and you get yours from animals that eat plants!” Of course it’s all in the delivery, no judge-y or preachy tones allowed. Always gets a laugh. I usually tell them that I’d of thought they were crazy if they had told me I would one day not eat meat or dairy (this says I was one of you) but I can’t deny that I have never felt better, inside and out…so I decided I could let it go and I haven’t missed it. Well, sometimes cheese… That gets a laugh too.


Angela (Oh She Glows) November 21, 2012

I love that response, will definitely use that sometime. ;)


Michele November 21, 2012



Emily November 20, 2012

This post has made me unbelievably hungry. I’m new to this blog, but I’m so happy that I’ve found it! I have no idea what I’m doing in the kitchen, and it’s nice to have recipes available (with great pics!) that are tried and truly delicious. Thank you, Angela! Happy Thanksgiving!

for those who love animals and fashion


Brooke melikidse November 20, 2012

I am just in awe of your food and photography! All of it is just beautiful! Thank you!


Mandy @ Eat Pray Grow November 20, 2012

Totally not a vegan and I’m drooling over these. I don’t even know where to start! The wild rice pilaf is definitely up there…but oh, the soups and deserts! I’m converted.


Nicole Marie Story November 20, 2012

“Eating animals doesn’t make me happy, so I don’t eat animals.”
This statement normally does the trick.
If they want more information, I direct them to my blog. ;)


Stephanie November 20, 2012

I think I just spent an hour reading through these recipes – will definitely be making some of these – yum!


Kacey November 20, 2012

This will be my first Thanksgiving completely vegan. I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time and I’ve been basically transitioning to veganism for like the last two years, but I’m not too worried about this Thanksgiving since I managed to veganize a lot of our family recipes last year. My main non-vegan eating was just pie. I only made one last year (your pumpkin one :) ) but this year I’m aiming for at least five, if not six…we’re kind of crazy pie people. It’s my mom and I that do pretty much all of the cooking, and she’ll be sleeping after a night shift for at least part of the day, so basically all of our side dishes will be prepared by me–and vegan!

I think I’m going to do a stuffed squash as my main dish this year. I’ve had your lentil loaf for the past two years (totally one of my favs), so this year I’m going to switch it up. Ugh, now it just needs to be Thanksgiving already!


Vera Jones November 21, 2012

Angela, this table looks really great! Thanks for sharing your recipes, the photos are great and the food looks really tasty! Great job.


Jessca November 21, 2012

Although I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian, plenty of what I cook is one or the other. However, I would never use the word “vegan” to describe anything that I make. A salad can just be a salad without being a vegan salad. I think if you’re worrying about how your family will react, the word “vegan” can be off-putting because it sounds foreign and makes people think of things like tempeh. Fruit and beans and veggies and nuts are all things that most people eat. Just use words that people can relate to.


Joanne (A Nicer Choice) November 21, 2012

There are some fantastic tips here, thank you Angela! This is my first Christmas as a vegan. We will be having Christmas dinner at my parent’s house. I’m going to take along my own main instead of turkey (with enough to share) so that I can enjoy all the (vegan) trimmings without my mum having to do anything extra. I can’t wait to browse these recipes for ideas!


Kimmy November 21, 2012

Oh that mushroom millet soup is one of my favourite soups ever. It’s so good!
Can’t wait to try out some of these other recipes =)


Stephen@HappyHeart November 22, 2012

Way too many delicious recipes to choose from! We don’t have Thanksgiving in Ireland but so many keepers for Christmas!!!


Moni @ {Meals Meals} November 22, 2012

An amazing post Angela. Just beautiful and stunning. My best tip is if you put it out–people eat it, no matter what their diet is!


Susmitha - Veganosaurus November 22, 2012

OMG this is a FANTASTIC post!! The photographs are so very gorgeous. I want to ear everything right now!! YUM!


Susmitha - Veganosaurus November 22, 2012

Damn! I meant EAT everything, not ear. haha Guess all the deliciousness is throwing my typing off. :oP


Jillian November 22, 2012

I made the lentil loaf last night and had it today for Thanksgiving—it was amazing and my non-vegetarian family members enjoyed it as well! Delicious!


Julie November 23, 2012

I made the sweet potato casserole yesterday and it was the best sweet potato dish I’ve ever made. The lentil loaf was excellent also. As the sole vegan in a house of meat-eaters, it was wonderful to have plenty of beautiful dishes to look forward to on Thanksgiving instead of cobbling together a salad and one or two sides.

I’ve been a vegetarian for 30+ years and a vegan for 2. Your recipes have inspired me to get creative and excited about food again. Thank you!


Angela (Oh She Glows) November 25, 2012

Hey Julie, Thanks for your lovely comment. I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipes! Happy belated Thanksgiving!


BeCe November 23, 2012

Just found your website, due to a friend of mine. She has Candida an is always loking for help in supporting her need to modify her diet to help her get rid of it w/o any of the MD type attitudes that people qlways come up with. I would like to help her if I can. Do you have any suggestions for her that would help her. She is consulting with an hebalist within our church structure, and has been helped in that way. But, since the diet that she must be on is quite restictive of even some of the vegan foods that we both eat, it is quite a challenge to stay on the diet 100% of the time.

I also am a vegan male, widowed, and finding my culinary skills quite rusty to say the least. I have gone to the beans in a heavy way, along with the raw fruits and vegetables, grains and all. But along with my diabetes I have to be very selective of the foods that I consume, since I am trying to combat it with my diet and exercise. I am not on medication for treating just my diet and exercise, as prementioned. I’ve had it a long time, am under a physicians care that goes along with me and helps me as well. It seems to be working, and I am enthused.

I had a slight stoke here about five years ago, did not opt for surgery, and went vegetarian, but, foundout that this was only the beginning. I went through the CHIP program endorsed and conducted by Dr. Hans Diehl out in California. I live in Maine and was helping out in the program at our local church. However, I found out that I needed more than that to keep me motivated, so I became a vegan. I cook my own meals, and help out some times with the vegan cooking programs offered here in my local area. Suffice it to say, I believe that it is working for me, and always looking for more, better, and ideans as to how to bump my knowledge and diet up another notch, to make it give me the help that I need and desire to get my diabetes under control, w/o ever going back to the meds for this desease. They do not help, they only cover it up, and are only treating the symptoms.

Thanks for your website, and see if there is anybody out there that can help me or my friend. Bill Cox – Thanks again.


Angela (Oh She Glows) November 25, 2012

Thanks for sharing your story! I am emailing you to put you in touch with a friend.


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