The Vegan Thanksgiving Post

***UPDATED BELOW***

Thanksgiving is this week; for vegans this holiday of feast, family and football can be both joyous and awkward. Sure, this holiday is about giving thanks but really it’s about eating delicious and rich foods with reckless abandon. In the typical household, Thanksgiving spreads contain few if any items free of meat and dairy. This wouldn’t be a problem for vegan homes but for many families, Thanksgiving tends to involve traveling. For young vegans especially this can be a difficult juggling act as your Tía Martha’s house will surely not have a single vegan item on that dinner table. Cream in the mashed potatoes, butter drenching the vegetables, bacon-wrapped dinner rolls, etc. Even more awkward is when the family tries to accommodate you by making a salad, covered in ranch dressing of course.

Truly, if you want a real Thanksgiving feast you have to do it yourself, or have some really cool vegan friends that will invite you over for their own feast. My personal vegan experiences with Thanksgiving began with me dreading the holiday for the reasons mentioned above. Now I look forward to it, as some simple kitchen skills and the availability of vegan holiday foods makes Thanksgiving special again.

For Tofurky shoppers in Santa Clarita, Whole Foods would be the likely place to pick one up; but hang on just a minute. A better deal can be had at Trader Joe’s down the street as they sell the Tofurky & Gravy combo for just $9.99. Whole Foods sells the Tofurky by itself for $11.99 and over $4 for the gravy. Unless you really like those apple dumplings then I suggest you get your Tofurky (or two) from Trader Joe’s. However, if you need extra gravy or most other specialty items then Whole Foods and Lassens would be better choices.

Whole Foods does carry a new vegan “Turkey” that caught my eye.

The Vegetarian Plus Vegan Whole Turkey is made by a company called VegeUSA. Last year these were only available as “vegetarian” containing both whey protein and eggs. This year they made a vegan version that comes with a barley&rice blend as well as a side of gravy. Since we lost the Unturkey I have been looking for something larger than the tiny Tofurky. One thing that kept me from buying it was an ingredient in the gravy that sounded suspicious; something called “Natural Creamer”. I called VegeUSA and they gave me the personal cell phone of their sales manager. He told me that everything in the box is vegan though he wasn’t sure specifically what the “Natural Creamer” was made of. He promised to get back to me and did a few hours later. The “Natural Creamer” is not dairy cream, but a “creaming agent”. He said he will call me again tomorrow with ingredients for that once he has it. Also, he agreed the wording is misleading and said they will correct it when they print new boxes.

UPDATE: I received an e-mail from John at VegeUSA and he supplied the ingredients for the “natural creamer” which I will list.

Natural Creamer: White bean flour, carrageenan (made from sea weed) tapioca modified starch, Xanthan gum (binder).

So, in case you were confused like I was, you can now rest easy and know that the Vegan Whole Turkey and all of its contents are vegan. Also, I want to note that John from VegeUSA told me that everything goes through lab testing for any kind of animal ingredients before they will label something as vegan. VegeUSA knew the gravy was vegan but just didn’t know exactly what was used in the creaming agent.  Because it makes up such a small percentage of the ingredients, it was not listed on the packaging. I want to thank John and VegeUSA for taking the time to get back to me and answering my questions.

During our conversation I was told that their vegan turkey is not stuffed, but had a space inside so you could stuff it yourself. You could use their provided barley & rice stuffing or make your own, which is a neat idea. Also, the price is supposed to be coming down. As you can see in the picture above, $50 is pretty expensive. I was told they were supposed to go on sale for about $35 or so which would be more reasonable. The turkey part is supposed to be around four inches thick, so I was told it’s actually a lot of food meant to serve 10 to 16 people; the Vegan Turkey itself weighs in at about four pounds.

Costco and Soymilk

Costco for vegans in the SCV can be a surprisingly good place to shop for certain items. Their stock changes from time to time but for things like soymilk, snacks, salad greens and quick meal items it can be a good resource. Soymilk is something you will find in mass quantity and surprising variety at Costco. I believe there were four different varieties there when I strolled around the aisles on Saturday.

Costco Soymilk vanilla The Vanilla Organic Soymilk from Kirkland Signature is a refrigerated 3-pack of 1-half gallon cartons. The cost is $6.99

Costco Soymilk plainOrganic Plain Soymilk also by Kirkland Signature is a box of 12, 1-quart cartons that do not require refrigeration before opening. Also available in vanilla. The cost is $11.39

Costco Soymilk vitasoy chocolate Organic Chocolate Soymilk from Vitasoy comes in a box of 12 non-refrigerated bottles each 11.5 fl oz.. The cost is $12.99