There is nothing more comforting than Shepherd’s Pie during those cold Fall days. We thought the twist of sweet potato would add the extra autumn twist. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, this recipe works as a side dish or the main course for your meatless feast. The best part about this recipe is it’s gluten free! It is perfect for a main Thanksgiving dish to serve to your gluten-free guests!  It’s hard to please every palate at your holiday feast, but trust us, you can’t go wrong with this one!

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

2 Med-Large Sweet Potatoes
1/2 lb of Lentils, cooked and drained
1/2 Cup Vegetable Broth
1/2 Cup Soy milk
1 Onion
1 Carrot
1 Stalk of Celery
1 Glove of Garlic
1/2 tsp Sage
1/2 tsp Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

Earth Balance to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop the potatoes, onion, carrots, and celery and set aside. In a pot boil the sweet potatoes until soft enough to mash. In another pot boil the carrots and celery for a few minutes until a little soft, about 6 minutes. Strain both and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the lentils, vegetable broth, boiled carrots and celery, garlic, and spices. Lay out this mixture in a casserole dish. In another mixing bowl, mash the sweet potatoes with soy milk, Earth Balance, salt and pepper. Layer the mashed sweet potatoes over the lentil mixture. Place in oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are a little dry on top.

So you are skipping the turkey this Thanksgiving. To most Americans this seems almost sacrilegious to serve Thanksgiving dinner without a turkey. Likening the bird to the first Thanksgiving, however, many people including vegetarians, vegans, health conscious folks, and just people looking for a change opt out of meat for the holiday. So if you are looking to lose the meat, try out a few of our suggestions below. If you want a rating of them, check out this comparison on Slate.  Have a happy meatless Thanksgiving!

Tofurkey: Aww the Tofurkey, it’s very name fills the air with the scent of Thanksgiving.  It has been a staple of vegetarian Thanksgivings for over a decade.  It is fairly inexpensive, around $9.99 and comes with stuffing and gravy. The brand does an excellent job of tasting turkey-esque and definitely completes your holiday meal. The Slate comparison gave it a 19 out of 25 rating.

Field Roast Celebration Roast: Although the Field Roast,  looks much more like a holiday ham, it definitely will fit in on the Thanksgiving table.  It’s texture and spices have a turkey taste, but the stuffing is a little more mushy than the Tofurkey. You can’t beat the sweet potatoes and apples in the stuffing. Slate gave this centerpiece a rating of 12 out of 25.

Gardein Stuffed Turk’y:  Gardein, although new on the market, has made a huge splash. They have come out with all sorts of delicious meatless options including crispy “chicken” and beefless tips. Their biggest contribution is their Stuffed Turk’y. Even though, these are a lot smaller than the above roasts, they win out in flavor. This is hands down one of your best options for fake meat. Slate gave it a winning 22 out of 25!

Homemade: Instead of buying your main dish this year, consider making your roast from scratch. We posted a great recipe last week on homemade gluten roast. It’s very easy and will make your whole feast a more homemade feel and taste. You can also try these recipes for ideas.

 

It’s almost Thanksgiving and as you are compiling your shopping list, why not skip the processed Tofurkey this year. We have a great recipe to create your own “turkey” roast in time for the holidays.  It will give your meal a real homemade feel, not that we don’t love Tofurkey, but making a roast from scratch is always so satisfying. This recipe is a tried and true friend’s family recipe that has been dished out at Vegan Thanksgiving for many years!

Homemade Vegan Roast

Gluten:
3 Cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Flour
3 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
1 3/4 Cup Water
1 Cup Soy Sauce or Bragg’s Amino Acids
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2 Carrots
3 Red Potatoes
1 Medium Onion

Breading:

1 Cup Bread Crumbs
1/3 Cup Nutritional Yeast
2 Tbsp Bragg’s Amino Acid
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Black Pepper

In a mixing bowl combine all dry spices and ingredients for the breading and set aside. In a large saucepan, boil water, soy sauce, and garlic. While the water is boiling, combine Gluten flour and regular flour. Add in 1 3/4 cup water slowly, while kneading the dough. Slice dough into strips and drop each slice into the boiling water/soy sauce. After a minute each slice will float to the top. Let them float for a few minutes and then lift out of the water and set aside.

Cut the carrots, onion, and potato in large chunks. Boil these until soft and set aside. In a small sauce bowl add the Bragg’s Amino acid and a little vegetable oil. Warm up a skillet on medium high and add the rest of the vegetable oil. Dip each strip in the amino acid and roll in the dry breading boil. Fry each strip until crispy on both sides (about 5 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. In a casserole dish, cover the bottom with a little oil or margarine. Layer the strips similar to lasagna and surround them with the boiled veggies. For an added treat, separate gluten strips with stuffing. Cook for fifteen/twenty minutes. Serve with all the fixin’s: mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.

Usually the only green thing about your Thanksgiving meal is the bean casserole, but this year there are several ways to make your dinner that much greener.  The holiday itself is a tad gluttonous and seems the opposite of anything eco-friendly. Buying too much food, tons of  plastics, and cooking all day. We have put together a short list of ways you can make your day of Thanks a tad more eco-friendly.

Buy Local & Organic: Instead of going to the supermarket for all your veggies, bread, and jams, try your farmer’s market.  You can find almost every thing you need at your weekly farmer’s market or your local grocery store. Be sure to look for organic certified products.  You can also purchase your breads, jams, and other goodies from local vendors. If you must purchase any dairy, definitely look for a local organic option.

Skip the Turkey: Stick to your veggies this year, and skip the turkey. There are plenty of great main vegan or vegetarian dishes to serve rather than turkey. Check our lovely vegan recipe blog for ideas.  You can even take it one step further and Adopt-A-Turkey from Farm Sanctuary. You can also purchase or make meat substitutes for dinner such as Tofurkey or Field Roast.

Organic Spirits: Serve up all your spirits organic! You can find great organic wines, organic beers, and even liquors. From organic vodka to rum, you can find organic versions of your favorite night-cap. Also, be sure to get your mixers organic as well, including cranberry juice, soda, and apple ciders.

Natural Decorations: This year use what nature gave you to decorate rather than buying new fall themed decor. You can use local straw, pumpkins, and squash. Or you may find some great items lying around your own backyard, such as apples and fall leaves. Another great resource is pine cones and tree branches. You can place them around the house or use a glue gun to make wreathes or other decor for your house.

Leftovers: Try to limit your food purchases to what you need, but if you find you still have leftovers be sure to do the green thing. If you compost, be sure to compost them to nurture your garden. Another option is to donate your leftovers to a local homeless shelter, food bank, or Food Not Bombs. Try searching this nationwide database of Food Pantries for a local place near you.

The week of Thanksgiving is finally here! We have been posting great vegan recipes all month and are so excited for the delicious holiday in a few days. Today we post our last vegan Thanksgiving recipe for this year, and it is a great one!  We thought we would save this delectable garnish. This quick and easy recipe will have your vegan and non vegan guests mouth’s watering and sure beats that canned stuff you used to serve!  Happy Thanksgiving :)

Organic Cranberry Sauce

Cook Time: 20 Minutes

1 Bag Organic Whole Cranberries

1/3 Cup Organic Evaporated Cane Juice
1/4 Cup Fresh Organic Orange Juice
~1 Tbsp Organic Orange Zest or to taste
Boil the bag of cranberries until they are soft. Strain out the water and put the cranberries back on the stove. Mix in the sugar. With a grater, grate fresh orange peel into the mixture to add zest. Squeeze the juice from the orange you used from the peel. Heat the mixture, but do not boil. The mixture should mush together. You may need to add more cane juice or orange zest  according to your taste. Cool in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching we thought we would publish our favorite holiday recipes. We are counting down the days until our biggest vegan feast of the year and want you to be in on the delicious foods. We have a stock pile of traditional recipes perfect for your Thanksgiving feast, with a vegan twist. Check out our backlog of yummy vegan dishes and try out our favorite vegan sweet potato pie.

Organic Vegan Sweet Potato Pie

Filling:
2 Cups Organic Sweet Potatoes, peeled
1 Cup Organic Soy Milk
1/2 Cup Organic Brown Sugar
3 Tbsp Organic Earth Balance
2 Tbsp Organic Molasses
1 1/2 tsp Organic Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Organic Nutmeg

Pie Crust (or purchase an uncooked vegan crust from a store)
2 Cups Organic Unbleached Flour
1 tsp of Salt
2/3 Cup, plus 1 Tbsp of Soy Margarine (we suggest Earth Balance)
1/4 Cup Ice Water (more may be needed)

Peel and half the sweet potatoes and boil in a saucepan until soft. Mash the potatoes with as if you were making mashed potatoes and add in the Earth Balance and soy milk. Add all other ingredients together until smooth. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you are making the pic crust from scratch, begin by combining the flour and salt. Blend in 2/3 cup soy margarine until the mixture is crumbly. Add in the water until mixture starts to hold together (you may not need all the water or you may need more-play it by ear!). Next roll out the crust with a rolling-pin (or in times of need a washed wine bottle can substitute). Place the crust in a 9 inch pan and use your fingers to make even patterns in the dough. Add the filling to the crust and bake for 50 minutes to an hour.

American holidays are wrapped with tradition, from the foods we eat to the decorations and even our activities.  Nothing is more traditionally American than Thanksgiving. The holiday is meant to bring all together and to give thanks for everything in our lives. But let’s face it, most Americans focus on the feast, which consists of traditional fall foods including sweet potatoes, cranberries, walnuts, and apples. However, the center of all these foods for most Americans is the turkey. Unfortunately, the turkey industry is nothing to be so thankful for.

In the US, 72 million turkeys are slaughtered for holiday meals! And these turkeys endure serious pain and suffering. A whole host of suffering is put upon turkeys including painful de-beaking, overcrowding, and over anti-biotic injecting. Honestly, this is not what I would consider an American tradition.  Fortunately, there is something you can do about it! Instead of purchasing a turkey for your table, you can adopt a turkey from Farm Sanctuary! The program rescues thousands of turkeys that would have ended up on the dinner table, and finds stable and loving homes.  People will property and room farm animals adopt these intelligent and caring animals for the rest of their lives. If you have room, consider adopting a turkey today. If you can not take on raising a rescued turkey, please consider sponsoring a turkey. With a donation of $30 you can sponsor one of the rescued turkeys that live on the Farm Sanctuary.

This year, you can make a difference and save a turkey’s life. Trust us, they will be thankful for your choice. For more information of the turkey industry and Farm Sanctuary‘s Adopt-A-Turkey Project take a look at this eye-opening video:

Today is World Vegan Day and in honor of this day of celebration we are posting our easy and quick vegan gravy recipe. With Thanksgiving fast approaching we thought we would start our vegan recipes now!  From now until Thanskgiving we will be posting delicious and nutritious vegan holiday recipes. For some traditional favorites such as stuffing and yams check our holiday log of recipes and look for more to come. This recipe is quick and easy and will taste a lot better than those gravy packets! The gravy is a nice way to top off your Tofurkey, mashed potatoes, and even on top biscuits. So enjoy and Happy World Vegan Day!!

Organic Vegan Mushroom Gravy

1 1/2 Cups Organic Vegetable Broth
1 Organic Onion, diced
1/2 Cup Organic Brown or White Mushrooms, diced
2 Tbsp Organic Earth Balance Margarine
2 Tbsp Corn Starch
2 Tbsp Organic Flour
2 Tbsp Organic Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1 tsp Organic Garlic, Minced
1/4 tsp Salt
Dice the onions and mushrooms and mince the garlic. In a saucepan, sautee the onions, mushrooms, and garlic on medium for 2 to 5 minutes. Add in the flour and salt and cook for about 2 minutes. Add in the vegetable broth. Stir continually while slowly adding in the corn starch. Bring to a full boil for 2 minutes while stirring constantly. Bring down to low heat and add the soy sauce and nutritional yeast. Heat for another minute and then serve. You will want to serve quickly or a film will grow on the surface. You can always keep it on low heat and stir occasionally to avoid this. The gravy will thicken after cooling a bit and you may have to adjust the heat to get the perfect consistency.


Thanksgiving is the time of year to give thanks and express gratitude. It is a time for relaxation as well as spending quality time with friends and family members. During holidays such as this it’s important we pay attention to our purchasing choices and habits just as much the rest of year, perhaps even more.  Even though, Thanksgiving can feel like an indulgent and gluttonous holiday, what it represents is far more deep. And its the lesson of appreciativeness for what we have and where life has taken us should transmit to the way we celebrate, as well as our daily choices. I n honor of this holiday, we at AP have put together tips on How to Have an Ethical Thanksgiving below. So savor the suggestions below just as you savor your Thanksgiving meal and remember to extend your conscious choices beyond the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving from us at AP and thank you for all your support!

Autonomie Project’s Tips on How to Have an Ethical Thanksgiving:

1) Eat Organic: As you are shopping the aisles of your market, keep in mind how important purchasing organic can be. Most products and definitely most vegetables and fruits come certified organic these days. Not only is it helpful to the environment to eat organic, it is terrific for your body. Non organic foods can contain harmful chemicals and pesticides which can do a number on your body and seep into our soil and eventually into our water supply, thus harming our entire environment. Of course we would encourage you to eat vegan this holiday and provide many great vegan holiday recipes and a guide to surviving the holidays. However, if you are going to eat meat or dairy, we suggest you purchase organic and free range choices. You can find organic items such as these at your local co-op, natural foods store, Whole Foods, and sometimes your regular grocery store. Just be sure when you are making an organic purchase, you look for the USDA Certified Organic label, anything else is not officially certified.

2) Shop Locally: When you are making your holiday food purchases try your hardest to shop local. Meaning, skip the major corporate grocery mega stores for your local store, including co-ops and natural foods stores. But also pay attention to the products you purchase and support your local farms and companies. When you purchase locally, you are stimulating your community’s economy and are supporting a transaction which cuts shipping pollution. This is very helpful to both our environment and to the cost of your product! So be sure to support your local farmer and market.

3) Fair Trade Groceries: Unfortunately not all products can be found Fair Trade at this time. However, there are many food products used for the holidays which you can find Fair Trade Certified. Some Fair Trade products you may be able to incorporate into your meal are Fair Trade rice, olive oil, chocolate and fruit. You might also want to switch your baking supplies over to Fair Trade such vanilla, baking powder, and sugar. You could even make your centerpieces with Fair Trade flowers! Also, serve your guests Fair Trade wine with their meals and coffee or tea after. For a full list of Fair Trade products and where to find them check out Transfair’s list of stores.

 

4) Stay Put: Instead of flying all over or driving far distances to see your family, stay put this year! You can cut down your carbon output by not leaving your home for the holidays. Heck, this will even save you money from pricey gas and plane tickets. You might ask, “But what about my family? The holidays aren’t the same without them?” Well, we have the answer for you! Try skyping with them. We know that word sounds foreign or perhaps made up. But if you haven’t already signed up, check out Skype. It’s a free internet video chat service that is surprisingly clear and makes long distance shrink! The lines are much clearer than any cell phone and you can actually SEE and interact with your family. Trust us, we live thousands of miles from our loved ones, and it really does almost feel as if you are with them. So skip the crowded airports and traffic ridden roads, and catch up with your family virtually. Look at it this way, you can always turn them off when they get on your nerves.

5) Volunteer/Donate Goods: Even though more people volunteer at soup kitchens and shelters on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year, we suggest you call your local shelter and use the holiday as a reminder to volunteer on other days of the year. The shelters need help all year-round and would happy to have extra volunteers. However, if Thanksgiving is one of the few days you can spare, go out and volunteer! Also, there are a number of organizations that collect food donations for the less fortunate and their families. Check your local charitable organizations for Thanksgiving Food Drives,  but also check out these organizations as well: Food for Others and Feeding America.  Also, if you have plenty of leftovers call your local shelters to see if they will accept any leftovers. Some states have laws about donated food, but some shelters may be able to accept some home-made goods.

You may ask yourself, with Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, how does a vegan survive a holiday based around the devouring of an animal? Well ok I know the holidays are NOT based around that, but you get what I mean. After being vegan for almost a decade I have the keys to get through the holidays whether you are dealing with un-understanding family members who insist you eat meat or a table with no vegan options at all!

  • Healthy Responses to Unnerving Questions: Being vegan for several years you begin to be annoyed with questions like “What do you eat?” and “Why not just eat one piece?” or even statements like “But its historical to eat meat!” The best way to deal with questions like this is to gracefully respond. You may feel like saying “I eat whatever I want” or “I don’t believe in eating corpses.” However, you should really answer questions like this with remarks such as “Actually I eat anything I want and have a healthy dose of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and beans. You would be surprised how many vegan products exist now and how easy it really is!” Or you might say “Sorry I choose not to eat meat for political/environmental/religious/personal reasons” If they want more feel free to elaborate, as they have opened the door! Try your best to refrain from sounding too condescending or superior, as it will only irritate them and could lead to bad feelings.
  • Educate, Educate, Educate!: The truth is, many of the annoying questions people ask us, is because they are curious and not trying to offend us. Take these opportunities to really educate your family, because most of them probably don’t know much about veganism and animal rights. So when a question like “How do you get protein?” may irritate you, as you have heard it a thousand times, it’s best to explain how exactly we get protein. I have found that people are genuinely curious as to why we live a vegan lifestyle and if I am asked why I do not eat meat, I will fully explain. I will even offer facts about the meat and dairy industry as well as historical references. If you want to come prepared, bring a book on veganism or some info packets. Although, from my own experience, do not bring those Why Vegans? to the dinner table. These packets may be effective away from food, however, your family will not be sympathetic to pictures of dead animals as they are eating.
  • Don’t Be Afraid To Ask: Don’t be afraid to ask your hosts to set aside some of the dishes before they add the meat or dairy products. For instance, I always ask my family to set aside some mashed potatoes before they add milk or butter and stuffing before they add gravy to it! Then I bring along soy milk and mushroom gravy and add it to the items they have set aside. Also, you may want to inquire ahead of time as to what dishes will be already vegan and if your hosts need suggestions on how to make certain items vegan. Sometimes it’s just a simple ingredient that can be substituted for the vegan version. So ask away, that way you are prepared!
  • Bring A Vegan Dish: If you are a dinner party guest, try bringing at least one traditional dish made vegan and surprise your family! This works particularly well if you wait until after they have eaten the dish to inform them it is vegan. I have made several dishes that have “fooled” my family, especially desserts. Now my mother asks me to make some of my classic thanksgiving dishes! For ideas on recipes check out our postings for Candied Yams, Green Bean Casserole, Pumpkin Pie, Cheesecake, and Spinach Dip. I have always found that the best way to convince family members that you eat well is to show them how we vegans do it! Once they have tasted your delicious vegan dish, they will be more understanding of your lifestyle and choices. You might be surprised how many of the rude statements and questions disappear after someone has eaten some impressive vegan goods.
  • Plan an ALL Vegan Dinner: For years I have had two dinners, one with family and one HUGE vegan potluck with friends and family. My family members who come are always shocked by the display we have created and are willing and excited to try all the vegan versions of their favorite holiday meals, including the Tofurkey! Even if you can’t convince your family to see eye to eye with your eating and political views, inviting them to an entirely vegan meal will stop some of the questions we previously mentioned above. Also, this will benefit you, as you can relax and enjoy a meatless and dairy-less meal in peace! There are hundreds of great recipes (some are linked above) and a TON of options for the main meal that are meatless including Tofurkey and Field Roasts (great baked ham replacement). You can also make your own out of tofu or seitan! Trust us making an all vegan dinner for either holiday will benefit both you and your curious family members.

One last piece of advice is to try not to sound preachy, these being the holidays everyone wants to relax and enjoy themselves. They will likely shut you out if you do this! So indulge and appreciate your family, even if they drive you nuts! Happy Vegan Holidays from AP!

-Gina Williams

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