By Sean Zucker –
Veganism continues to grow in popularity across the US, with up to 3% of Americans identifying as such last year, according to the Washington Post. It’s not difficult to see why. The diet offers a plethora of health benefits and the opportunity to recreate and repurpose a variety of nutritious dishes. But with Thanksgiving—the holiday most dedicated to eating—a couple of weeks away, it’d be easy to assume this is no time to be vegan. Think again.
Veganism’s rise is spurring an unprecedented response from food retailers. Popular supermarket chain Whole Foods is now offering Thanksgiving meat alternatives like vegan seitan turkeys for the first time this holiday season. The stuffed meat impersonation is produced by the Herbivorous Butcher, a plant-based butcher out of Minneapolis. The faux bird offers a meatless Thanksgiving feast for up to four people. The vegan offerings don’t end there. In addition to turkey, Herbivorous can fill your table with meatless dishes from Butternut Squasage to herbed feta.
Whole Foods’ offering is far from the only way to support a vegan diet this Thanksgiving. The OG vegan Thanksgiving option Tofurky is still going strong after years of being the top pick for vegetarians and vegans during the holidays. In fact, it reached its five millionth sale of its signature holiday roast a couple of years ago. The brand also expanded its menu to include other festive dishes such as plant-based Hasselback Ham and their own much sought-after branded gravy. Each item is packed with protein and nutrients, primarily composed of wheat gluten and tofu.
For those who feel branded and prepacked dishes take away some of the homey and home-prepped Thanksgiving vibe, there are plenty of other Thanksgiving vegetarian alternatives to conjure from scratch.
Thankfully, you won’t have to search far for reasons to swap tradition for vegan alternatives this holiday. The health benefits are abundant and pretty compelling. A recent study found that a vegan diet can boost gut microbes related to body composition and blood sugar control. Additionally, veganism has even been linked to curing impotence.
Want another reason to switch? Growing research suggests a vegan diet has been found to be ideal for weight loss, even without reducing carbohydrate consumption in other areas. Remember, meat-eating continues to be linked to obesity. So ultimately going vegan this Thanksgiving means less worry about the extra weight that often comes with large holiday family feasts, at least physically. The mental weight of the season is each of our own burdens to carry.
Animal rights might be another incentive to skip the bird this year. Farm Sanctuary, for example, reports that nearly 45 million turkeys are slaughtered each Thanksgiving. Perhaps more upsetting is that many of these turkeys never once got a chance to set foot outdoors. Their limited lives involved being caged and then slaughtered for food. So going meatless this Thanksgiving also means you’ll be sparring one lucky gobbler.