Who is Coming?
Chances are that a guest attending your Thanksgiving meal has an allergy or different way of eating than you do. So, how do you keep your sanity and still have happy guests? First, ASK in advance if they have allergies or have a special way of eating or a diet that they prefer. Then, the fun comes when you are trying to accommodate their preferences when you don’t understand what they said to you! Hopefully, the following will help:
Those unfortunate enough to suffer Celiac Disease have inherited it, it runs in families. They have sometimes violent reactions to the protein in wheat, barley and rye. The gluten from these grains damages their small intestines. Celiac Disease is a serious autoimmune disorder. The estimates are that it affects 1 in 100 people worldwide. If a guest tells you they have Celiac Disease, you MUST take it seriously! The link below is a valuable resource for preparing food your guests can eat:
On the other hand, many people THINK they have an allergy or sensitivity to gluten. For this reason, gluten free products have exploded across the country. It may or may not be a fad but do not make assumptions. Many people have gluten sensitivities that do cause distress. And, if you are making stuffing, consider making it yourself with gluten free bread and add your preferred veggies and spices. Try to error on the safe side and keep your guests happy with enough gluten free dishes to allow them to go home happy that they came.
NOT Gluten Free
They are not going to eat your turkey or gravy. They eat NO meat or fish. Nevertheless, vegetarians do eat cheese, cows milk and eggs. Do not add meat to any side dishes…even bacon garnishment will not be welcomed. There are alternatives to turkey for your vegetarian guests. Gardein offers “Savory Stuffed Turk’y” and “Holiday Roast with Cranberry Kale Stuffing”. Turtle Island Foods makes vegan/vegetarian meat substitutes: “Tofurky Roast”, “Ham Roast with Extra Special Beer Glaze” and so much more.
Vegan or Plant-Based
The line between vegans and plant-based eaters is getting more and more blurred. In general, the word “vegan” has usually meant that the individual eats no meat based on animal cruelty. And, those who refer to themselves as “plant-based” choose to eat this way for three reasons: health, animals and the environment.
Like vegetarians, Vegan and Plant-Based ways of eating do not include meat or fish. In addition, they do not eat any animal based products. Animal based products include items like eggs, dairy (milk from animals, yogurt, cheeses) and sometimes honey. The products made by Gardein and Turtle Island Foods are also suitable for vegans and plant-based guests. There are also many many dairy free cheeses available today and more coming. Earth Balance has a vegan buttery spread and Bob’s Red Mill has an egg replacer. You can also whip up one tablespoon of ground flax seed with three tablespoons of water as a substitute for one egg in recipes. As described, ground flax seed with water can be used in place of up to three eggs in recipes.
If you are a host that loves to cook special items for your guests, you may want to go the extra mile and make a vegan cheese. Otherwise, there are many commercially available cheeses to choose from in health food stores and online. The Washington Post recently published an article with vegan cheese recipes and links to purchase vegan cheeses. Whipped coconut cream can easily substitute for whipping cream. Even your omnivores will not know the difference.
NOT Vegan or Plant-Based
This way of eating is actually a recent phenomenon. Your turkey will be welcomed by those who eat Paleo. They primarily eat meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Paleo dieters are not likely to eat refined foods (sugar and many oils). In addition, they also do not eat grains and legumes (beans). Paleo eaters will not want gravy thickened with flour so use coconut flour, arrowroot or cassava flour. There are many different twists to this way of eating so, if in doubt, ask. We do not recommend this way of eating due to its high focus on meat and animal products and lack of the nutrients missing due to the elimination of grains and legumes. Nevertheless, it is better than the Standard American Diet (SAD) and is a step toward healthier eating like vegetarian diets.
Thanksgiving Guests Go Home Happy
The best advice I can give you is do not get into a debate about what a guest does or does not eat during the holiday. Everyone THINKS their way of eating is the best, including anyone who reads this article. You are not going to change their mind over a dinner table. It takes time, research and critical thinking to determine what the best way of eating is today. We are bombarded with misinformation even from the USDA, small studies that are not peer reviewed and food manufacturers/marketers that are more focused on the bottom line than our health. This site is based on science, years of peer reviewed studies, and non-biased information. Admittedly, we are biased toward health, animal welfare and what is good for our planet.