How to celebrate a turkeyless Turkey Day, other Thanksgiving recipes for dietary restrictions

Maddie Wright

When many picture Thanksgiving they see a family sat gathered around a table of food with the main attraction being the Turkey. Being someone with dietary restrictions opens this up to some road bumps.

How can you have a staple holiday, the basis of fall break, without every popular dish? It is actually fairly simple and many people do it. 


Gluten free:

  1. Many recommend to keep recipes the same and switch out anything involving gluten for the alternative. Look at rice flour when you can. Potatoes are naturally gluten free. Get gluten-free bread for the stuffing. Almond flour pumpkin pie crust? Yes please!
  2. Look out for any dish with a cream base though and instead look for yogurt to give it the same creaminess.
  3. Like being vegan, not every drink is gluten free. Many types of beers contain gluten. So make sure you check the label.

                        Some recipes that caught my eye:

                            Vegan cranberry, blueberry crisp

                            Quinoa stuffing

                            Spiced pumpkin seeds


  1. Pour all energy into the side dishes. Why have one main dish when you can have several? Mac and cheese, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie. 
  2. Go for the vegetarian turkey if desired. Better known as tofurkey. There is deli meat style “turkey” and drizzled vegetarian gravy over it and still have some for leftovers the following day. There is also the traditional route with the whole “turkey” and some include meatless gravy and stuffing for your “turkey.”
  3. Avoid any type of “turkey” if that is what is appropriate. Many communities use Thanksgiving to celebrate farming season coming to an end and a way to celebrate the harvest so there is no real need to replace a turkey with an artificial replacement. Instead turn to something in season for a main course: squash, rice, sweet potatoes, what have you. Look at local farmers, markets, your neighbors and see what food is locally sourced.

                  Some recipes that caught my eye:

                        Brown butter garlic carrots

                         Roasted butternut squash 

                         Vegetarian chili



  1. Drink vegan. Vegans eating with non-vegans should remember that not all drinks are vegan. Beers, wines and egg nog can all be non-vegan. So it may be in your best interest to bring your own as both a gift to the host and security that you will have something to down.
  2. Look at harvest food, there is plenty of fall goodies that are vegan and local food is a great place to start.
  3. Do not stress about getting enough protein. This is a day to pig out and not worry about it. There is a big stigma around vegans not getting enough protein and some say this is not true. But regardless, do not worry about it very much, plus there are plenty of options out there for you to make a protein-based Thanksgiving dish.

                Some recipes that caught my eye:

                      Spinach dip (with tofu!) 

                      Vegan cornbread

                      Butternut squash mac and cheese


Dairy free:

  1. For the supermarket route, there is a handful of pre-made dairy free thanksgiving goodies that are perfect for this occasion. Turn to vegan egg nog and dairy-free pies.
  2. For mashed potatoes, when the staple is traditionally butter and milk, look for olive or coconut oil and dairy-free margarine.
  3. Almond milk works well when cooking baked goods.

                Some recipes that caught my eye:

                      Sweet potato casserole

                      Dairy free scalloped potatoes

                      Dairy free pumpkin truffles


  1. Make sure the turkey is kosher, it should be labeled as such.
  2. One large recommendation is to not brine a turkey bought kosher because it was already salted in the koshering process, according to the New York Times.
  3. Chicken fat can be a good replacement for butter in certain dishes.

                  Some recipes that caught my eye:

                        Roasted turkey and caramelized onions

                       Challah stuffing

                      Sugar pumpkin pie and olive oil crust

For more vegetarian websites visit:

Collegian reporter Maddie Wright can be reached at or on Twitter @maddierwright.