Thanksgiving on the side

Emphasis on pasta, potatoes works for meatless holiday meals

Emphasis on pasta, potatoes works for meatless holiday meals

November 15, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Being the sole vegetarian at a family Thanksgiving meal - where a big fat turkey is the pice de rsistance - doesn't mean you have to be stuck eating lettuce and carrots.

If you don't want to be left with rabbit food, don't leave the cooking up to one person.

The folks from the Baltimore-based Vegetarian Resource Group recommend hosting a potluck in situations where omnivores and herbivores must converge for a single family meal, particularly for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, where meat is traditionally the focal point.

"Concentrate on fixing really awesome sides," said John Cunningham, consumer research manager for the Vegetarian Resource Group, a nonprofit organization that specializes in vegetarian consumer education.

Tara Petite, founder of the Western Maryland Vegetarian Society in Hagerstown, finds that pasta is a great happy medium. It works as a side and as a main course.


The Western Maryland Vegetarian Society hosts monthly potlucks and provides tips and recipes for those who don't eat meat or animal products.

For family meals at home, Petite said she often prepares Indian-inspired dishes, such as garbanzo beans and cauliflower cooked in unsweetened soy and coconut milks, curry and garlic over a bed of basmati rice. For dessert, she capitalizes on tastes of the season, such as pumpkin smoothies or pumpkin pudding.

Cunningham said people who are intimidated by the thought of preparing a vegetarian meal might consider something called "Tofurky." Tofurky is a soy product manufactured by the Turtle Island Foods company that is meant to have the look, feel and taste of turkey.

The Community Garden Market in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., carries the product, according to Turtle Island Foods' Web site.

Vegetarians have ambivalent feelings toward Tofurky, which is why Cunningham warned that it should be used as a last resort. Petite described its taste as rubbery and gross.

"I'd hate to have nonvegetarians try it because they'd eat and say, 'I could never be a vegetarian,'" she said.

By the way, Petite said her vegetarian husband happens to like Tofurky.

"He loves it," she said.

The Vegetarian Resource Group and the Western Maryland Vegetarian Society have provided recipes (Tofurky-free) they say will appeal to vegetarians and nonvegetarians alike during the holidays.

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