Thankful AF

The holidays are officially upon us. I always say I’m not a big Christmas person, but something about putting up the Christmas tree and decorating the apartment makes me feel all warm inside. For me, the holidays are comparable to the first snowfall. It sounds nice and peaceful and fun, until four days into it when it’s all gray and slushy, and not nearly the same vision you had in your head.

But, we’re not there yet. We’re still at the fun, imaginary part, so let’s keep that going!

Thanksgiving is this week and I have a love/hate relationship with this holiday. Again, it sounds so fun and great, and you get to eat all this food and not feel bad about it. Until you do. Until you’re in a food coma and your clothes no longer fit like they did just a few hours ago.

I truly love the idea of Thanksgiving, but then comes the question of what to eat. Seeing as I’m vegan, the traditional Thanksgiving meals are typically filled with meat and dairy. Um wait, why do the mashed potatoes have so much milk and cheese in them?! Why does everything all of a sudden need cheese added to it? The past couple of years I have struggled to enjoy Thanksgiving. There typically aren’t many food options for me, unless I’m the weirdo that brings my own food (and sometimes others begrudgingly pick at it, just to seem polite).

That being said, last year my group of amazing girlfriends had an idea to host a Friendsgiving. So adult of us, right? Since we’re all fairly health conscious and love to cook, we eagerly dove into a Google doc spreadsheet and shared our favorite dishes – and a good chunk of them were vegan! We carried on the tradition this year and once again, it did not disappoint.

This year, MacKenna hosted our girl’s night. From the fall décor to the gorgeous spread, everything was perfect. People often joke, “so, what do you even eat?” when they learn I’m vegan. From now on, I want to show each person who asks me that a photo of our dinner. Even our non-vegan friends easily (and happily) adjusted their dishes to make them vegan-friendly. Not only was that so nice and thoughtful, but it’s fun to see just how tasty vegan food can really be. AND there was no ridiculous food coma afterward (trust us, we danced for about six hours immediately following).

Moral of the story, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be unhealthy. There are so many delicious options for vegans, vegetarians and those looking to eat healthier - or for those of us who simply want to avoid a Thanksgiving food coma (hello Black Friday) - and they’re often just twists on the originals. So, be kind to your vegan friends this holiday season and you might even find your new favorite dish. 

Interested in what we made?

Here is a peek inside some of the uh-mazing food we consumed at Friendsgiving:

I made bacon wrapped dates (no recipe, just dates stuffed with vegan cream cheese, wrapped up in seitan “bacon”) and sweet potato stuffing.

Daisy made cranberry butternut squash noodles with and pecans.

MacKenna made vegan mac and cheese (and turkey, and potatoes (with dairy milk alternatives)).

Tara made rosemary mushroom stuffing and gravy (this link goes to a full list of a great vegan sides).

Leah made yummy apple crisp.

Get excited Chicagoans. If you live in Chicago and don’t love cooking (or simply don’t want to - this is a judgement free zone), Kitchen 17 is offering up an awesome deal! For $60 you get basically a full vegan meal that feeds 5-6 people. They are also partnering with PiePieMyDarling and you can order your [vegan] Thanksgiving pie from them for $30.

Let’s leave this on a mushy note. One thing that I’ve made a tradition at our Friendsgiving is to go around the table and say what you’re thankful for. This was a tradition that used to make me super uncomfortable, but in the end it is really nice to hear what everyone is thankful for, and usually ends up in happy tears. This year was no different. With so many changes and such a crazy year (as mentioned in Busy AF), I’m thankful for the craziness that was this year. I’m thankful for the extreme ups and downs I’ve had, for learning how to take care of myself mentally and physically, the friends who I surround myself with, my boyfriend who has shown me so much love and happiness, and forleaving 2016 a better, happier person.

What are your Thanksgiving traditions? Favorite recipes? What are you thankful for? Share in the comments section below!

HealthAmanda Failla