5 Tips for a Tasty Vegan Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving can be a tricky holiday if you're trying to avoid animal products — after all, its unofficial name is Turkey Day. But, as more and more studies show the impact of meat and dairy consumption on the Earth, preparing a vegan Thanksgiving is one way to show gratitude for this planet and all its biodiversity.
A vegan Thanksgiving doesn't have to be a sacrifice. A plant-based feast can be just as delicious as a traditional holiday meal. Here are some tips for putting together an animal-free spread that still gives your tastebuds plenty to be thankful for.
1. Meatless Turkey
The traditional centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal may feel like the most intimidating element to swap out, but there are plenty of faux-turkey alternatives on the market. Juliet Lapidos sampled four back in 2009 and rated the Gardein Stuffed Veggie Turkey Roast as the tastiest. The product is now sold as the savory stuffed turk'y or holiday roast. Gardein's replacement turkeys got a bill of approval from The Spruce Eats for their natural ingredients and realistic appearance.
You also don't have to bother with fake meat at all. Well Vegan suggests an all veggie-take on the turducken: the Butternut Squash Vegducken. This dish stuffs a zucchini inside an eggplant inside a butternut squash for "a flavor combination that's perfectly suited for the season."
2. Animal-Free Gravy
Gravy is another dish that screams animal product, but there are actually tons of recipes that don't require meat juices.
Alison Andrews of Loving It Vegan shares a recipe for a gravy made in 30 minutes from garlic and onions, vegan butter, flour, coconut milk, vegetable stalk and soy sauce.
3. Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes
You don't need milk and butter to make your mashed potatoes nice and creamy.
"They're extremely easy to veganize," Iosune of Simple Vegan Blog writes, "you just need to use oil or vegan butter instead of regular butter (extra virgin olive oil is my favorite choice) and any unsweetened plant milk instead of cow's milk or cream (soy milk works so well), that's all!"
Iosune explains how you can make your own vegan butter, too. All you need is plant-based milk, lemon juice, coconut oil, a neutral oil like sunflower oil, nutritional yeast (if you can find it) and salt.
4. Vegan Casseroles
Side dishes are probably the easiest holiday foods to conceive of as vegan, since they tend to be veggie-based anyway. But that also means there are lots of exciting recipes out there to try. VegKitchen suggests several, but the most seasonal include Quinoa, Broccoli and Vegan Cheese, Roasted Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese and Vegan Green Bean Casserole.
"Vegan casseroles are always comforting," VegKitchen writes, "and it's nice to know that they're also good for you, not starchy and heavy like the old-fashioned kind."
5. Earth-Friendly Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin pie is a holiday classic, but many traditional recipes call for cream or eggs. Then there's the fact that it's usually topped with whipped cream.
However, you can have the full pumpkin pie experience without any animal products. Loving It Vegan shares a recipe that uses canned pureed pumpkin for the filling, and the BBC Good Food walks you through the process of making the filling from pumpkins or squash directly.
There are also plenty of vegan whipped-creams options out there, according to PETA. You can buy one of the many ready-to-spray varieties for sale or make your own from chilled coconut milk, sugar and vanilla.
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"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."
'These Aren't Wildfires'<p>Sam Ricketts, who led climate policy and strategy for Governor Jay Inslee's 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted on September 11 that "These aren't wildfires. These are #climatefires, driven by fossil fuel pollution."</p><p>"The rate and the strength and the devastation wrought by these disasters are fueled by climate change," Ricketts told DW of fires that have burnt well over 5 million acres across California, Oregon, Washington State, and into neighboring Idaho. </p><p>In a two-day period in early September, Ricketts notes that more of Washington State burned than in almost any entire fire season until now, apart from 2015. </p><p>California, meanwhile, was a tinderbox after its hottest summer on record, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching nearly 130 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. It has been reported as the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth.</p>
<div id="29ad9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8346fe7350e1371d400097cd48bf45a2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1306969603180879872" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Drought-parched wetlands in South America have been burning for weeks. https://t.co/pjAKdFcKPg #Pantanal https://t.co/ImN2C5vwcp</div> — NASA Earth (@NASA Earth)<a href="https://twitter.com/NASAEarth/statuses/1306969603180879872">1600440810.0</a></blockquote></div><p>As evidenced by Australia's apocalyptic Black Summer of 2019-2020, fires are burning bigger and for longer, with new records set year-on-year. Right now, Brazil's vast and highly biodiverse Pantanal wetlands are suffering from catastrophic fires.</p>
#climatefires Started in Australia<p>Governor Inslee this month invoked the phrase climate fires for arguably the first time in the U.S., according to Ricketts.</p><p>But the term was also used as fires burnt out of control in Australia in late 2019. In the face of a 2000km (more than 1,200 miles) fire front, and government officials and media who <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/trump-climate-change-denial-emissions-environment-germany-fake-heartland-seibt/a-52688933" target="_blank">played down the link to climate change</a>, Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and a friend decided that reference to bushfires was inadequate. </p><p>"We both just said, we've got to start calling them climate fires, that's what they are," the Australian Senator told DW.</p><p>Hanson-Young says scientists have been warning for decades that these would be the effects of global heating. "We've been told these kinds of extreme weather events and destruction is what climate change would look like, and it's right here on our doorstep," she said from her home state of South Australia — where by early September fire warnings had already been issued.</p><p>"Calling them climate fires was making it absolutely crystal clear. It is essential that there's no ambiguity," she said </p><p>Having deliberately invoked the term, Hanson-Young soon started to push it on social media via a #climatefires hashtag. </p>
How to Talk About the Urgency of Global Heating<p>The need to use more explicit language when talking about extreme weather events linked to climate change is part of a broader push to express the urgency of global heating. In 2019, activist Greta Thunberg tweeted that the term "climate change" did not reflect the seriousness of the situation. </p><p>"Can we all now please stop saying 'climate change' and instead call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?" she wrote. </p><p>"Climate change has for a long time been talked about as something that is a danger in the future," said Hansen-Young. "But the consequences are already here. When people hear the word crisis, they understand that something has to happen, that action has to be taken."</p><p><span></span>Some terms are now used in public policy, with state and national governments, and indeed the EU Parliament, declaring an official climate emergency in the last year. </p>
Words That Reflect the Science<p>But while the West Coast governors all fervently link the fires to an unfolding climate crisis, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to avoid any reference to climate. In a briefing about the fires, he responded to overtures by Wade Crowfoot, California's Natural Resources Secretary, to work with the states on the climate crisis by stating: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch." Crowfoot replied by saying that scientists disagreed. Trump rejoined with "I don't think science knows, actually." </p><p>It was reminiscent of the anti-science approach to the coronavirus pandemic within the Trump administration, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/donald-trump-admits-playing-down-coronavirus-risks/a-54874350" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least publicly</a>. Fossil fuel companies are also benefiting from his disavowal of climate science, with the Trump administration having <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-trumps-paris-climate-accord-exit-isnt-really-a-problem/a-51124958" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pulled out of the Paris Agreement</a> and reopened fossil fuel infrastructure like the Keystone XL pipeline. </p><p>But the science community has responded, with Scientific American magazine endorsing Trump's Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden, the first presidential endorsement in its 175-year history. </p><p>Hanson-Young says the use of explicit language like climate fires has also been important in Australia due to the climate denialism of politicians and the press, especially in publications owned by Rupert Murdoch. As fires burnt out much of Australia's southeast coast, they were commonly blamed on arson — a tactic also recently used in the U.S.</p>
Climate Rhetoric Could Help Decide Election<p>The language of climate has begun to influence the U.S. presidential election campaign, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden labelling President Trump a "climate arsonist."</p><p>Biden is touting a robust climate plan that includes a 2050 zero emissions target and a return to the Paris Agreement. Though lacking the ambition of The New Green Deal, it has been front and center of his policy platform in recent days, at a time when five hurricanes are battering the U.S. Gulf Coast while smoke blanketing the West Coast spreads all the way to the East. </p><p>People are experiencing the climate crisis in a visceral way and almost universally relate to the language of an emergency, says Ricketts. "They know something is wrong."</p>
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