Thanksgiving is just a few days away! If you’re planning a cruelty-free, plant-based feast for this day of gratitude and family, you may be wondering what to put on the table in place of the traditional turkey. But you need not worry—today, so many delicious and festive alternatives to turkey are readily available. Here in this article, we list 10 delicious non-meat “turkey” options that make for a mouthwatering plant-based Thanksgiving for all of your guests. And of course, you can also make your own “DIY meatless turkey” if you’re feeling ambitious, since many terrific recipes can be found online.
If you do choose to serve a turkey alternative, you can rest easy knowing you are not participating in or supporting one of the cruelest factory farming industries in operation.
The Grizzly Truth About Turkey Farms
Turkeys are intelligent and affectionate birds, in spite of what you may have heard to the contrary. They form deep emotional bonds with one another and with humans who treat them kindly, often sitting for hours to be held and petted.
But in factory farm settings, modern day turkeys are bred to be so large that they can’t even mate naturally. Therefore, they inseminated instead. That’s how the industry refers to the practice of holding female turkeys upside down and inseminating them violently with basters.
The website Free From Harm reports that one worker at a turkey hen breeding facility in Missouri described his experience this way: “The birds were terrified, and beat their wings and struggled in panic…Having been through this week after week, the birds feared the chute and bulked and huddled up. The drivers literally kicked them into the chute…I have never done such hard, dirty, disgusting work in my life: 10 hours of pushing birds, grabbing birds, wrestling birds, jerking them upside down, pushing open their vents, dodging their panic-blown excrement and breathing the dust stirred up by terrified birds.”
Conditions are so crowded on modern turkey farms that young turkeys must be de-beaked so that they won’t mutilate themselves or others. This process involves no anesthesia as beaks are removed with a sharp shears, a heated blade, or a high-voltage electrical current. According to Free from Harm: “Turkeys’ beaks are loaded with sensory receptors, much like human fingertips, and this painful procedure severs and exposes nerves. Some turkeys starve to death before they are able to eat again; others die of shock on the spot.”
These conditions apply to virtually all turkey farms—even the ones that claim to be “free range,” according to the organization Humane Facts.
The Best Turkey Alternatives to Wow Your Hungry Guests
Luckily, dozens of amazing meatless turkey options line market shelves. One Green Planet has put together an outstanding list of top turkey alternatives, which we’ve modified for our readers based on our own taste tests and personal experience with serving meatless turkey to our hungry families for many years.
Tofurky has led the way in meatless turkey since 1995, and it’s improved a whole lot since those early days! The Tofurky roasts of today, which are wheat protein and tofu based, have the texture and consistency of white and a delicious, mild and savory flavor. The roasts are pre-stuffed with a wild rice stuffing, and if you buy the Tofurky feast, that comes with ready-to-heat gravy along with some other holiday goodies.
Field Roast Celebration Roast with Traditional Bread Stuffing and Gravy
The Field Roast is, for my family’s taste, less like turkey than Tofurky. It’s spicier and has a dark, bumpy exterior that makes it less like turkey and more like, well, an actual roast. Still, it is delicious, seasoned with sage, garlic, and lemon juice. Field Roasts come with traditional bread stuffing made with onions, celery, cranberries and butternut squash and a rich mushroom gravy made with porcini and shiitake mushrooms.
Field Roast Hazelnut Cranberry Roast en Croute
Here we have the very fancy version hazelnut-infused version grain-meat version of Field Roast. Not only is it stuffed with Field Roast sausages blended up with crystallized ginger, cranberries, and apples, but the whole beautiful roast is wrapped in an amazing savory puff pastry.
Field Roast Smokey Forager’s Roast
The Smokey Forager’s Roast is the newest addition to the Field Roast family. It’s made with a tomato grain meat and stuffed with a traditional bread and wild rice stuffing with chanterelle mushrooms and wild huckleberries that are actually gathered in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Finally, the roast is glazed in a sweet and savory pineapple mustard sauce.
Vegetarian Plus Whole Vegan Turkey
For those who just love the idea of a meatless turkey that resembles a real turkey, this one’s for you—it even has drumsticks! Made from non-GMO soy and wheat, this Vegetarian Plus Whole Vegan Turkey is firm, well-textured, slices well, and comes with vegan stuffing and mushroom gravy.
Vegetarian Plus Vegan Turkey Roll
For those who don’t need meatless drumsticks, the Vegan Turkey Roll is a great choice. It has the same great taste and texture as the Whole Vegan Turkey, but comes with a cinnamon-berry glaze.
Gardein Savory Stuffed Turk’y with Gravy
Savory Stuffed Turk’y with Gravy is a delicious option for small gatherings or individual portions. These “turkey” rollsa are breaded and stuffed with breadcrumbs, celery, onions and cranberries, and they come with a yummy gravy.
Gardein Holiday Roast
This roast is great for a larger crowd. The roast itself has a great firm texture and slices beautifully. It’s stuffed with wild rice stuffing with cranberries and comes with gravy.
Trader Joe’s Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast with Gravy
Trader Joe’s meatless turkey is made with ancient grain flour and seasoned soy protein. The texture is great and the “meat” is breaded and deliciously seasoned with herbs and red pepper flakes. This one is filled with wild rice and cranberry stuffing and comes with gravy.
Make Your Own
For the bravest and most creative among us, making a masterpiece meatless turkey may well be the best option of all, and you certainly don’t need to buy a new cookbook if you don’t have a recipe. Just google “vegetarian turkey” and you will find dozens—even hundreds—of creative recipes. One Green Planet is a terrific place to start your search!
Meanwhile, you can feel fantastic about creating a delicious holiday meal that’s great for your family and the planet.