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Vegans and vegetarians have new options for a Thanksgiving meal within the Valley

Restaurants and markets in the area are offering vegetarians and vegans options for a traditionally meat-centric holiday

"Establishments around the area offer vegan and vegetarian options for Thanksgiving." Illustration published on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017.

With the rising popularity of vegetarianism and veganism, those with dietary restrictions around the valley have more options to eat out on Thanksgiving. 

Desert Roots Kitchen, a vegetarian restaurant on Mill Avenue, is taking pre-orders for holiday dishes, from their everyday options like kale salad to Thanksgiving specialties like chickpea gravy. Leslie Robin, the owner, said that over the years she has been asked for pre-orders of her all-vegan dishes and welcomes ASU students that order as well.

Robin said that she is accepting orders "because we have a different menu everyday, anyhow.”

The restaurant offers vegan green bean casserole, pies and cranberry oatmeal cookies. Their mashed potatoes with chickpea gravy are very popular, and they sell gravy by the pints, she said. 

Desert Roots Kitchen also offers veggie dishes, sauces and other options that are usually gluten-free. It takes about one to two days for the order, and for convenience's sake, some can pickup on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. 

“It is a great option because it’s ready to go ... ” Robin said. “It’s made from scratch, it’s inexpensive (and) it’s convenient.”

Robin said she's had a lot of students come to the restaurant for the holidays to get their events catered. 

“I have, over the past five years, catered to a lot of students for holidays. They don’t want cafeteria food or they don’t have family here or they want to do like a friend’s Thanksgiving, and they don’t have full kitchen facilities to work with,” Robin said.  

Green New American Vegetarian, a with locations in Tempe and central Phoenix, hosts an annual "Thanksliving" event on Thanksgiving Day. 

For the past ten years, the event has gathered attention across the Valley for its multiple courses and low prices, according to chef and owner Damon Brasch. 

Thanksgiving 2017 has a menu of seitan turkey breast with "giblet" gravy, organic cranberry stuffing with toasted walnuts, brown "butter" asparagus and other vegan-friendly dishes. Brasch said that the homemade organic winter berry granola cobbler, the vegan turkey and the roasted garlic smashed potatoes are crowd-favorites. 

Brasch said these options offer vegetarians and vegans the comfort of knowing they'll eat well on Thanksgiving, which may account for the event's popularity, he said. 

“They want to spend time with their families, but (Thanksgiving is) very meat-centric,” Brasch said. “So that's why Thanksliving has grown into this big event because people are very refreshed with the idea of not having to sit around a bunch of things that they don't believe in.”

Vegetarian ASU student Sarah Murray, a biological sciences junior, said vegan or vegetarian Thanksgivings also offer a sense of novelty.

“I think that's really great,” Murray said. “I think also that being vegan or vegetarian around the holidays can sometimes be really fun because you're kind of trying new things.”

Murray said the options available are more than what she's seen in recent years. 

“I love that there are more options available for vegetarians and vegans than there were even just a few years ago because I think it makes the whole process a lot less intimidating for people,” she said.

Some grocey stores offer prepared meals catered to vegans and vegetarians, such as Whole Foods with their Vegan Meal for Two, along with their normal holiday dishes.

This includes mustard-glazed cauliflower, lentil-mushroom stuffing, "cheesy" rutabaga and potato mash, sauerkraut-roasted rainbow carrots, and chocolate toffee mini cake.

"Even if they’re going to a Thanksgiving that has nothing vegan it’s nice that we can provide something that someone can take with them, and then they can now have a full meal and it’s healthier,” Robin said.

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