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Thanksgiving Appetizers + Another Cookbook Giveaway!

On a day when many people eat more than their share of food at one sitting, serving an appetizer before Thanksgiving dinner may seem like a bit much.  The only times I serve a Thanksgiving appetizer are when I’ve got a crowd coming over and I knew a few of them would be arriving a little later than others.  In such a case, it’s nice to put a little something out for the early arrivals to nibble on with drinks while you finish getting dinner ready.  A tasty appetizer before dinner is also a great way to put those omnivore guests at ease — the first bite of a stuffed mushroom or vegan cheese ball will prove to them that they won’t starve!

The top photo (photo by Andrea Weaver) shows my Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin Hummus from Quick-Fix Vegan. The traidtional pumpkin imbued with nontraditional (for Thanksgiving) flavors hits all the right notes.  Other great options are the Warm and Creamy Artichoke-Spinach Dip or the Savory Mediterranean Cheesecake below (photo by Debbie Cowherd) from Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker:

If you’re short of time, you can simply put out a bowl of nuts, or maybe a plate of these easy peppadews stuffed with tapenade — you can buy peppadews at a supermarket salad bar and use ready-made tapenade to save time. If you can’t find peppadews, you can stuff cherry tomatoes instead or just serve the tapenade with crackers or raw veggies.

BONUS COOKBOOK GIVEAWAY:  Thanks to the generosity of my publisher, I’m giving away a SECOND copy of Party Vegan this week!  To enter this second giveaway, answer the following question in a comment at the end of this post:

QUESTION: If you were a vegan attending dinner at a non-vegan home for Thanksgiving, and they asked how they could accomodate you, what would you say? (For example, use vegetable broth in the stuffing, or make extra sweet potatoes?)   Or,  if a non-vegan host WANTED to make a special vegan dish for you, what would you suggest?

Enter NOW — this giveaway ends at the same time as the other one: midnight tomorrow!  Winners of both giveaways will be announced on Saturday.  You can enter both giveaways — and you can enter them both TWICE — just by telling others about these giveaways and then leaving an additional comment telling me about it.

Good Luck!



{ 72 comments… add one }

  • Chad Ferguson November 15, 2012, 1:52 pm

    I never ask to be accommodated and always bring something for myself and to share.

  • tom November 15, 2012, 2:01 pm

    Nothing. I would eat what I can, and not eat what I can’t. I’ve never had a problem doing that.
    I don’t like people to go out of their way for me at any time, including dinner–they have enough to worry about.
    Plus I always bring a dessert, so at the worst I can always eat only dessert. 🙂

  • Kim Y November 15, 2012, 2:03 pm

    I bring a vegan dish to share and eat what I can. I never ask others to accommodate me. However, once they have a taste of a delicious vegan dish, they quickly ask for recipes, etc. 🙂

  • Joyce November 15, 2012, 2:10 pm

    I would never ask anyone to accommodate me, so I always bring vegan dish I know will appeal to everyone and eat that along with a huge green salad since most Thanksgiving dinners have that available.

  • Shannon @ moveeatcreate.wordpress.com November 15, 2012, 2:16 pm

    I don’t think I would ask them to do anything. I would likely mention my eating preferences, so that they knew. I wouldn’t want them to take personal offense if I didn’t eat much, for instance. I would probably offer to bring a dish that I could eat and share with others, as well.

  • L C November 15, 2012, 2:23 pm

    I am a vegan going to a non-veg home for T-day, and the only “accommodation” I’ve asked for is to be able to contribute a few of the side dishes (sweet potatoes, cornbread muffins, and one of the pies). I will make all of these vegan, and I will primarily eat these dishes (and be more than satisfied!!). Even though I told him it wasn’t necessary, one of the other contributing cooks already volunteered to make the mashed potatoes vegan as well.

  • Rachel E. November 15, 2012, 2:31 pm

    I never ask for special accommodations. I always let people know that I’m used to eating meals of side dishes, and I’m happy with that!

  • Jess November 15, 2012, 2:40 pm

    I always bring my own Tofurkey to my inlaws for Thanksgiving dinner and they always try a bite in good humor. I probably wouldn’t ask my host to accommodate but bring a side or eat ahead of time and nibble on whatever I can find.

  • Mylène November 15, 2012, 2:43 pm

    If I were having dinner at a non-vegan’s home, I wouldn’t ask them to go out of their way to accommodate me. I’d make it clear that I was vegan and what it entailed, and I’d likely just bring a few dishes of my own. If someone really wanted to make something for me, though, I’d suggest something simple that everyone could enjoy like a hearty quinoa-vegetable salad (i.e. as opposed to its just being a small dish designated for me) and I’d still bring a few of my own dishes.

  • Abby Bean November 15, 2012, 2:43 pm

    I always inform a host and offer to bring something. If a non-vegan host INSISTED on making something, I would suggest something simple and accessible. It’s important for non-vegans to realize how simple living compassionately can be.

  • Ben November 15, 2012, 2:46 pm

    My wife and I don’t like to impose our veganism on others, so we would offer to bring something. If pressed to make a request, though, I would ask people to cook their sweet potatoes without butter (dairy-free butter is fine, though!) and without marshmallows

  • Audrey November 15, 2012, 3:02 pm

    I would ask them not to cook the potatoes in chicken broth. I have no idea who thought up this bright ide – probably the chicken broth manufacturers. Yuck.

  • Nancy November 15, 2012, 3:05 pm

    I’d bring a happy, thankful heart, a big smile and a chopped raw veggie salad, and NOT mention that I am a Vegan. We’re all entitled, and responsible for how and what we eat. Would not want to make anyone else feel uncomfortable and I would not want to come across as “preachy or superior.”

  • karyn h November 15, 2012, 3:23 pm

    I also never ask anyone to accomdate me, but this year I have no family to celebrate Thanksgiving with me. Some dear friends invited me to their home and asked what they could make for me. I assured them I was fine, I eat lots of sides & I will bring some vegan dishes to share, but they have insisted and are making me some surprise vegan dishes. I do not feel that I have caused them any trouble, instead I feel very loved by their caring.

  • Rushi November 15, 2012, 3:27 pm

    I would be more than happy to gorge on just side dishes so I would offer to help cook so I can keep an eye on what goes in them and make a mental note of which to eat.

  • Katie November 15, 2012, 3:30 pm

    I would offer to bring a dish that looks like a side but is substantial enough for me to eat a few helpings and be just fine–maybe a quinoa salad with roasted root veggies and cranberries and nuts! If they are interested in catering to my diet I would use it as an opportunity to help the open-minded host learn a bit about all the tasty alternatives available!

  • Lakshmi November 15, 2012, 3:31 pm

    I always bring something, that way I know what is in it and also usually everyone loves it and they don’t realize it is vegan until they ask who made it.

  • Charlotte November 15, 2012, 3:47 pm

    This year we are traveling. I’ve asked my daughter to prepare her usual, but to include some of the veggie dishes (mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, etc. ) that are prepared with non-animal products.

  • Amanda November 15, 2012, 4:00 pm

    I would never ask them to go out of their way or to do anything special for me, but thank them so very much for the offer. I would ask them what I could possibly bring or if there was anything I could do to help them out. I would/usually do bring something to share with everyone (if it will not offend the host(ess), in this case maybe a delicious (vegan) pumpkin pie or bread etc. and would eat what I was able to (as I usually do). I have found that when people are aware that you are a vegan or allergic to something etc. they are already more conscious of putting things into the menu that are more ‘friendly’ to your needs….but dinner is about seeing good friends and enjoying the company so that’s what the focus should be on (the food is amazing but really secondary to this part of life!)!

  • Beth November 15, 2012, 4:16 pm

    Since I love covering EVERYTHING in gravy, I’d ask them to do a mushroom gravy for sure!

  • Kelly November 15, 2012, 4:38 pm

    I would bring vegan pumpkin pie and offer vegetable cornucopias if they wanted to try a vegan dish.

  • Beth November 15, 2012, 4:49 pm

    I love stuffing so I’d probably ask them to make a vegan version of the stuffing. And I’d bring a vegan main dish to share — maybe stuffed acorn squash or portobello mushrooms.

  • Dawn (Vegan Fazool) November 15, 2012, 4:53 pm

    I would normally bring something, but if I can’t (like we are travelling and going to be staying several days like at my parent’s house, etc.) then I’ve discovered I need to start asking for beans to be added to dishes that folks are used to making (pastas, vegetable casseroles, etc.) so that there is some plant-based protein element!

  • Kathy November 15, 2012, 4:57 pm

    I would ask if they could leave the butter out of the sweet potatoes or squash since those are 2 of my favorite dishes and bring another dish to share. I have made a vegan pumpkin pie to bring and no one knew ;p

  • Jessica C. November 15, 2012, 6:01 pm

    I usually plan to bring my own dish to share, but one simple thing I found I can do is ask people to cook vegetables in olive oil instead of butter.

  • Vegyogini November 15, 2012, 6:15 pm

    Hmmm…I would probably ask that they replace butter and cream in the mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes and green beans with Earth Balance and soy cream or almond milk.

    If a non-vegan wanted to make a special vegan dish for me, I would suggest something easy like pasta primavera and a salad.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  • sara November 15, 2012, 6:30 pm

    I would probably ask that they use veggie broth instead of chicken broth. Really though, I usually just bring a dish, or host so I cook everything myself!

  • Kim November 15, 2012, 6:42 pm

    I would never ask for anything special BUT if they insisted that I pick something I would probably aske for something like a pot pie or shepherds pie because that would cover lots of the food groups!

  • rebecca b. November 15, 2012, 7:45 pm

    This is my first plant-based Thanksgiving (I went plant-based in January). I will be attending a non-vegan’s home. I was asked to bring something I can eat. So, I’m going to do just that. I’m thinking a homemade tofu turkey with stuffing. 🙂

  • Carole November 15, 2012, 8:23 pm

    I think it’s polite to explain why I may not be eating any ham, turkey, etc. when going to a non-vegan’s Thanksgiving dinner. That also helps the host to plan better for the meat served. Otherwise, I make do with what is served that is not meat. By the way, our hostess asked us to bring an alternative this year to the meal, and she is very curious (in a positive way) to see what a Field Roast is!

  • Courtney November 15, 2012, 8:30 pm

    I always just suggest a big beautiful green salad…simple and delicious and everyone can enjoy it!


  • Wendy November 15, 2012, 8:33 pm

    I never ask anyone to accommodate me or my family. I wouldn’t want anyone to go out of their way to make something just for me/us. We usually eat beforehand, and bring a dish we can eat. I try to bring a crowd pleaser so that more people are intrigued about the vegan diet, as an especially tasty dish leads to many questions and lots of dialogue.

  • Eve November 15, 2012, 8:33 pm

    I don’t like to ask for special treatment but it does seem polite to inform the host I’m vegan so I don’t look like a jerk eating nothing, or eating very little. As for a specific request, I’d gently ask that some of the side-dishes not have bits of meat added to it — it can be a bummer when things I’d otherwise eat happily (Brussels sprouts, potatoes, etc.) had gratuitous bits of bacon or ham in them.

  • Ree November 15, 2012, 8:47 pm

    Bring a few vegan dishes. If it’s someone interested in learning how to make things vegan, I’ll offer suggestions like using Earth Balance and veggie broth.

  • Val November 15, 2012, 8:51 pm

    I would bring a sophisticated vegan appetizer or a traditional vegetable side dish that has a special or surprising element. I would avoid bringing faux meat-like dishes that mimic traditional foods because I have never liked these kinds of dishes and I can’t imagine they would impress a non-vegetarian/vegan. If someone wanted to make something because they were truly interested in trying a vegan dish, I would look for a recipe that was 1) relatively simple and relied on whole foods or grains (avoiding ingredients that might be typical in my home but not in other–I’m thinking nutritional yeast is an example), 2) very flavorful, maybe using a good amount of herbs or spices that are memorable in a pleasant way, and 3) could easily be adapted for a non-holiday meal so the host has expanded her or his daily vegan options without even knowing it! “Hey, that was easy and tasty–I make this again next week!” Voila–another meatless meal in the world! I agree with many of the other respondents who said they do not impose on hosts to prepare things for them specially.

  • Joann @ Woman in Real Life November 15, 2012, 9:08 pm

    I generally say I’ll bring something along myself. And they usually say they will make salad. 😉

  • Kelly C November 15, 2012, 9:31 pm

    I have never had this experience but I would suggest a few cookbooks that I love to help. That’s where Party Vegan comes in!

  • DebbieKL November 15, 2012, 9:37 pm

    No one in my extended family is vegan or even vegetarian. I tend to bring at least one dish that can be used as the main dish for vegans and a side dish for others (i.e. rice and mushrooms). If someone really wanted to cook vegan dishes, I’d share some cookbooks!

  • Katie November 15, 2012, 9:42 pm

    I always offer to bring a vegan dish, and let the person know that I can generally get away with making a plate of sides.

    If someone wanted to make a vegan dish, I would suggested a vegetable-based dish or salad.

  • Cassandra G. November 15, 2012, 9:53 pm

    I usually don’t ask others to accomodate me in any way, really. Although, sometimes close family members insist. I tell them it’s as easy as leaving a serving of mashed potatoes off to the side for me before they add butter/cream/milk/etc. I try my best to bring a main dish I can eat and something that is enticing for others to try as well. My brother LOVED the fake turkey roast I brought last year and requested it when he visited me a few weeks later.

  • Melissa November 15, 2012, 10:40 pm

    I would suggest they accommodate by opening a can of vegetarian baked beans.

  • debbie binder November 15, 2012, 10:40 pm

    I have found that the best way to help non-vegans understand how good plant based foods are is to offer to bring a robust dish to share. I enjoy making stuffed portobello mushrooms. They are hearty enough for me for a main dish, and mainstream enough for the other guests to feel like they would like to try a mushroom. I ask not to make a special menu for me, but do ask in advance to know of other dishes that will be offered that I may enjoy. If everything is animal based, I eat lightly before I go and enjoy what I have brought!

  • Jess November 15, 2012, 10:54 pm

    I would ask them to separate as they went. Wait on milk or butter in the mashed potatoes and I would bring my vegan versions. Wait on butter on the squash. I’d ask to bring a vegan dessert. I’d get list of what they are making and see what is vegan already! Maybe suggest some easy alternatives.

  • Cecily November 15, 2012, 10:58 pm

    If they’re actually willing to make a vegan dish, I’d ask for vegan shepherd’s pie! Hearty and delicious.

  • Deborah Saas November 15, 2012, 11:42 pm

    I would not ask a hostess to accommodate my special dietary requirements. I would, however, offer to bring one (or more) side dishes that I would be able to eat and would be happy to share them with others. Bringing a visually appealing and delicious dish to a non-vegan event is the best way I know of to introduce great-tasting plant-based foods to those who might not normally build their meals around them. If, for some reason, the hostess wasn’t keen on the idea of a guest bringing some dishes to share (some people are pretty particular about their holiday menus), then I might casually ask what was on the menu. If there were at least a few things I could nibble on, I would do the best I could. But if it sounded like there was nothing I would be able to eat, I would simply have a light supper (i.e. salad or bowl of soup) before going to the event and then enjoy a glass of wine and the company of others while there.

    • Robin November 19, 2012, 10:18 am

      Deborah, Congratulations, you’re a winner! Send me an e-mail with your mailing address so we can get a copy of Party Vegan out to you!

  • Deborah Saas November 15, 2012, 11:45 pm

    Oh, and I posted this second contest to Facebook as well. That should get the word out!

  • bonnie November 16, 2012, 12:58 am

    I am lucky in that my friends always accommodate me for Thanksgiving. However, were I to go somewhere I’ve never been for Thanksgiving, I’d ask that they try to use olive oil in place of butter where possible and make flavorful vegan substitutions so that all can enjoy the sides. I’d bring my own main course.

  • Wendy November 16, 2012, 1:03 am

    I try to bring the most amazing vegan dish ever!! Preaching doesn’t seem to work, but setting a good example and getting people to ask about a vegan diet works.

  • Thomas Bruno November 16, 2012, 8:15 am

    Every holiday, my wife and I face the same dilemma. But we so look forward to getting together with family and friends, that we relax our diet rules, plus, we bring some vegan dishes that we think everyone will enjoy. By doing so, we find that others try to make dishes that are more acceptable to us. Some of my favorites include: marinated figs, plant-based rosemary-sage stuffing, and a TVP (textured vegetable protein) loaf. Did I mention mushroom gravy? “I’m getting hungry!”

  • LESLIE HOWELL November 16, 2012, 8:42 am

    As a host, its an honor and not a burden to make an event special for all invited guest. The fact that the host was kind enough to consider the dietary needs of all of the guest is very kind. If I were asked by a non-vegan host how to accomodate me, I’d most likely either ask if I can make one of my favorite dishes and bring enough to share with the other guest or if not considered rude give the host my recipe if its meaningful for them to present the dish to me.

  • Laurie November 16, 2012, 9:19 am

    Though I couldn’t eat it (due to allergies), I would totally just ask them what they are already making. If it something I know that could easily be modified (IE using nondairy milk instead of dairy-based milk), I would offer to bring them some or suggest an alternative. But ONLY if they insist!

    That being said, because of my severe food allergies, I just bring a Tupperware, anyway!

  • babette November 16, 2012, 9:58 am

    I would tell them to make stuffing with vegetable broth or with vegetarian chicken broth (which I could provide) and to saute some tofu cubes on the side, which I would mix with the stuffing in my plate.

  • Barbara P. November 16, 2012, 10:09 am

    I would bring vegan pumpkin pie and offer vegetable cornucopias if they wanted to try a vegan dish.

  • Stuart November 16, 2012, 10:56 am

    Depends how well I know the person. If I know them relatively well I might ask what they are planning for fare. Generally though I will make a few things and bring along both for myself and to share.

  • Kim November 16, 2012, 11:41 am

    I would find out what they were making, and if it wasn’t too much trouble ask to set aside some potatoes or green beans before they were adding butter/milk to them. I’d also ask if I could bring something to make it easier.
    If they wanted to makes something, I would recommend the Quinoa Loaf recipe my neighbor gave me, and I would provide any ingredients they didn’t have on hand.

  • Johanna November 16, 2012, 11:50 am

    It depends how well I know the host. If we were close I would ask which of the planned dishes had animal products in them and how they could work around it. For example, before adding milk to mash potatoes, please remove a serving for me. Could you use veg broth and olive oil in stuffing? I would offer to make a few dishes myself also. If I had to bring one dish it would be a veganized stuffing.

  • Marsha November 16, 2012, 12:30 pm

    I make special vegan dishes for those who come to my home. A Veggie lasagna and butternut squash currie and I used vegetable or mushrom broth where broth is called for. I would bring one of these dishes with me to share with others.

  • Marilyne November 16, 2012, 1:18 pm

    I would suggested a vegetable dish and maybe bring something with beans or tofu for proteins!

  • Food and Loathing in the Steel City November 16, 2012, 1:21 pm

    I did ask my step-mom if she could just try to use oil on this Thanksgiving’s veggie dishes instead of better. Other than that, I’m just bringing everything myself! I’m not going to lie — besides my own parents and vegan friends of mine, I never eat at other people’s houses. They all eat at mine!

  • Linda November 16, 2012, 1:46 pm

    I would offer to make a dish or a dessert, and I would definitely eat from what veggies or sides that they have. I would not want them to change their Thanksgiving family traditions for me as a guest in their home!!

  • Heather S November 16, 2012, 2:16 pm

    I would bring my own dish, and some extra to share!

  • Sharen Sammons November 16, 2012, 2:20 pm

    I do not ask for special accomodations; rather, I always bring something.

  • Lindsay November 16, 2012, 3:46 pm

    I would suggest that they make a great pasta dish with lots of veggies

  • Stephanie November 16, 2012, 4:19 pm

    I never expect to be catered to and would absolutely offer to bring a hearty veg-friendly dish to share, but sometimes my mom asks specifically what ingredients to use when altering recipes and her favorite exchange so far has been coconut milk (the thick canned kind) as a milk replacer in baking.

  • Tanya November 16, 2012, 5:12 pm

    If they asked how they could accommodate me, I’d offer to bring something special, probably using vegetables I grew in my garden. Kale with peanut sauce has been a hit at many potlucks. If I knew them well, I’d gently inquire if any of the vegetable dishes were going to be made without butter or other animal products.

    If they insisted on making a vegan dish for me, I’d pick something easy. Hummus is familiar to most people in my experience, and it’s infinitely customizable. I’ve made feijoa hummus when I had a bounty of pineapple guavas! So I might suggest pumpkin hummus or cranberry hummus, and provide a recipe. Or if they wanted it to be more of a main course, I’d suggest a lentil stew with cranberries and sweet potatoes.

  • April November 16, 2012, 6:29 pm

    I would ask that they use veggie broth since it goes in so many things! Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Tracey November 16, 2012, 8:47 pm

    I would ask them if I could use their oven to heat up the food I bring. I usually bring my own main dish and sides and heat them after the host has finished in the kitchen. The food heats up quickly since it is already cooked, and I can join the other guests with a full course meal that’s delicious and compassionate!

    Thanks for the giveaway, Robin!

  • Grace November 16, 2012, 8:47 pm

    I would say I am a strict vegan and would you mind if I ask you when we are at your house if there is any meat, dairy, eggs in any of the dishes at the meal and would you mind if I brought a couple of vegan dishes for myself and for anyone else to try.
    If a non-vegan offered to make a vegan dish I would suggest a quick and easy bean salad and offer a couple of recipes and offer to bring the ingredients to make it together.

  • Oscar Washington November 17, 2012, 6:11 am

    I wouldn’t ask for anything. Instead, I’d bring my own dish. There will likely be a salad as well. I’d just make do as best as I could do.

    Of course, I am a vocal vegan, so chances are good that my preferences are already known!!! 🙂

  • KathyD November 17, 2012, 7:11 am

    I would ask if the host could provide for plain baked winter squash/sweet potato/potato, plain steamed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, summer squash, etc.). I think that simple & straightforward is best if the host is not familiar with vegan or vegetarian food.

  • gail November 20, 2012, 4:07 pm

    maybe just ask if i could bring some vegan side dishes

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