For Jessica Stevens, having a vegan Thanksgiving is nothing new.
She has been vegan for five years and was a vegetarian for six years prior. Stevens’ immediate family is all vegan, in support of Stevens' father, who went vegan after struggling with health issues.
While some families may gather around a turkey this Thanksgiving, others will be devouring tofu turkeys, vegetables and dairy-free macaroni and cheese. Each celebrating table will be lined with its own unique dishes, and tables that have gone meatless are no exception.
Stevens said that when her family first became vegan, their Thanksgivings felt slightly different.
“My grandparents would come over, and they would be disappointed because some of our traditional dishes were different,” Stevens said.
After years of research and practice with vegan recipes like green bean casserole, her family has come to accept and appreciate their Thanksgiving feast.
According to a 2019 study, American plant-based meat substitutes sales increased by 34 percent between 2017 and 2019, and this is no different when it comes to Americans shopping for Thanksgiving meals. Tofurkey, a tofu turkey alternative, struggled with meeting their increased demand last holiday season. With many Americans turning to meatless or otherwise plant-based diets, Thanksgiving may look different today than in decades past.
Like Stevens, first-year student Jewell Caputa has learned how to adapt these traditional foods to fit her vegetarian diet.
Caputa has been vegetarian for nearly five years and chose to cut meat out of her diet after learning of its consequences on environmental sustainability. While her family was initially surprised by this choice, they had no problems with it, especially when Caputa took to participating in the meal-planning and cooking.