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Welcoming Vegetarians to Your Thanksgiving Table

Plan a Meal that a Vegetarian Can Also Enjoy

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Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays because it focuses purely on the joy of preparing and sharing a wonderful meal with those we love. There isn't the distraction of gift giving or elaborate decorating. I can dedicate all of my energy to finding recipes and playing in the kitchen.

One of the challenges I've learned to overcome is cooking meals that will please both vegetarians and omnivores. For various reasons, health included, there are several vegetarians in my family. This is the case in many families, so I expect many hosts puzzle over how to welcome vegetarians to their tables.

At Thanksgiving, it may at first appear even harder to do, since turkey is so often the centerpiece of the meal. But after some preliminary information gathering, it's not really difficult at all.

Before planning your Thanksgiving menu, you need to find out how strict your vegetarian guests are about their diets. Most vegetarians are either lacto-ovo, meaning they will not eat meat, fish or poultry, but will eat dairy and eggs; or total vegetarian, in which case they will not eat any animal products including eggs and dairy. "Vegans" are total vegetarian, but take it a step further in that they will not even use animal products such as leather, wool or silk. Neither do they eat honey. On the other hand, some people call themselves vegetarian, but will still eat fish and/or poultry. That's why it's important to get this information up front. Your guests will appreciate your concern, and not mind the questioning at all.

Once armed with the facts, it's time to plan the menu. The last thing you want to do is serve your vegetarians a plate full of steamed vegetables (my veggie siblings have often returned starving from parties that serve nothing more than steamed cauliflower and broccoli for them to eat.) That won't be necessary for your guests. If you make a few minor adjustments to your recipes, they should be able to eat most of what you serve to your other guests, except for the turkey!

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