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How to Plan a Fabulous Virtual Plant-Based Thanksgiving

Sharon Palmer

Plan a safe, smaller, virtual Thanksgiving with these top 6 tips from dietitian nutritionists.

The holidays are coming, and due to the pandemic, it looks like it’s going to be a subdued, more isolated affair, for the safety of our communities, families, and loved ones. But thanks to numerous streaming platforms, you can still celebrate holiday meals with friends and family. You can cook your meals together on Zoom, and pass the phone around the table with FaceTime. Plus, you can create a very special, memorable meal you’ll be talking about for years to come, based on fall’s best treasures, including seasonal plant-based foods. I’m sharing some special tips from registered dietitian nutritionists on how to celebrate a healthy, happy, plant-based thanksgiving—even if it’s in your own little safe bubble.

Eat and Live Well,


How to Plan a Fabulous Virtual Plant-Based Thanksgiving

1. Look for the Good. “It’s been a tough year for all of us, but we can definitely look for ways we have grown despite all these challenges. Having guests, either virtual or present at a smaller table, share how this year has made them grow stronger and better can help bring some gratitude and inspiration to the table. Here’s my favorite thanksgiving plant-based recipe, a savory vegan stuffed acorn squash,” says Melissa E. Nieves, RDN of Fad Free Nutrition.

Maple and Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

2. Celebrate with Sides. Even if it’s a small Thanksgiving, you can still celebrate it well! “Everyone knows the best part about Thanksgiving is the side dishes! The perfect plant-based Thanksgiving meal is a roundup of vegetable-based sides, such as this recipe for Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes, which celebrates the bountiful harvest season,” says Kristina Todini, RDN of Fork in the Road.

3. Connect Outdoors. “A smaller gathering this year may provide a greater opportunity to spend more time outdoors with the people you love. Connecting with nature can increase one’s appreciation of the environment, agriculture, and the power of plants. If you have the opportunity, take time to thank the growers, farmers, ranchers, and distributors that helped bring your Thanksgiving meal to your table. We created this roasted sweet potato and banana casserole as a lightened up and plant-forward variation for traditional marshmallow yam casserole. With a smaller gathering, you’ll likely have lots of leftover food, and luckily leftover sweet potato casserole is a nourishing and satisfying breakfast the next day,” says Lexi Endicott, RD, LD of To Taste.

Make an easy one-dish meal, such as this recipe for Stuffed Butternut Squash with Sage Lentil Filling

4. Make it Easy. Maybe this is the year to take it easy on yourself, and ditch all the stress in your holiday menu planning. “For Thanksgiving this year, I’m making this ravioli topped with butternut squash. It’s easy and quick but looks and tastes great,” says Judy Barbe, RDN of Live Best.

Dish up individual meals, such as this recipe for Green Bean Mushroom Pot Pies with Mashed Potatoes.

5. Dish it Up Individually. “You can still make Thanksgiving special this year even if you’re on your own or having a smaller gathering at home or better yet, in an outdoor space. Plan ahead for safety with individualized portions, such as this recipe for Mason Jar Vegan Pumpkin Pie Parfaits, that people can eat without having to serve from a shared dish. Using mini-mason jars or other fun containers could be really helpful and even fun!” says Ginger Hultin, RDN of Champagne Nutrition.

6. Get into the Giving Spirit. “Despite, or perhaps also because of all the challenges we’ve faced this year, it’s even more important to find reasons to celebrate and reflect on the positives. Although the holidays may look a little different this year with smaller gatherings and virtual get-togethers, we can still find ways to share the love. Get into the giving spirit and create a virtual recipe book of family favorites and new recipes to prepare this Thanksgiving and share it by e-mail. You can also put together a slideshow of favorite family photos or a retrospective of this year and share it over zoom, either e-mail the photos to everyone or create s slideshow and share your screen during a zoom call,” says Katheryn Kästner, RDN.

Learn about how to plan for a safe, healthy social event with my tips here.

Check out some of my favorite plant-based holiday recipes for your small, safe Thanksgiving here.

Sage White Bean Veggie Balls with Pomegranate Mandarin Sauce
Butternut Squash Kale Barley Salad
Balsamic Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Farro

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