For several years I have wanted to host a vegan Thanksgiving potluck. I talked about it each year, but never did it. This year I did it! Last night I hosted my first vegan Thanksgiving potluck. I had created the online invitations a month ago (on Facebook), so it gave everyone a month to prepare. The vegan Thanksgiving potluck was held last night at my house and went off without a hitch. It was a great event!
I wanted to share some tips with you, so if you are planning your own vegan Thanksgiving potluck (or any type of potluck) you may find it helpful. Here they are:
- Plan at least a couple of weeks ahead of time. This gives people time to prepare and decide what they will bring.
- If you want to have a "traditional" Thanksgiving menu, yet make it vegan, be sure to include a list of things you want people to bring. They can pick from the list, announce they are bringing it, and that way everything will be there. The last thing you want is six main dishes and no side dishes, or a bunch of desserts and no main dishes. They can bring additional items if they want, but ask that they choose one thing on the list to also bring (e.g., rolls, cranberries, stuffing, etc.).
- Make sure you have enough chairs for at least all the adults to sit down. If you don't have enough chairs for the kids it is not that big of a deal. The kids are so busy playing most of the time that they really don't want to sit down anyway, but the adults will want to sit down and eat. If you don't have some extra folding chairs, ask around to borrow some.
- If you are hosting the vegan Thanksgiving potluck you will want to make sure you have some drinks, utensils, plates, cups, napkins, etc. You can add drinks to your list of things you want people to bring, that is up to you. At our house, I had asked for one bottle of juice for the kids, and then we made three different pitchers of iced tea, and had some beer, almond milk, and water on hand to offer.
- Aim to keep it environmentally friendly. This means that you try to avoid disposables as much as possible. Use real dishes and cloth napkins and wash them afterward. If you feel you must use disposables, opt for the ones that are environmentally friendly. This is especially important when it comes to utensils and cups. Avoid plastic ones! Plastic is horrible for the environment. Opt for biodegradable utensils, plates and cups (available at Whole Foods Market, as well as online). Remember, when you are being environmentally friendly you are not only protecting the planet, but you are also protecting the animals (who end up bearing the brunt of most of our environmental destruction). Also, as you are cleaning up, be sure to recycle whatever you can (e.g., foil containers, etc.).
- Suggest that everyone bring an empty container that they can take home food in. Chances are there will be a lot of left over food, so everyone can take some things home with them.
- It's Thanksgiving, so during dinner go around the table and have everyone take a moment to share with the group what it is that they are thankful for. I did that, but I also wanted to take it one step further. I made up a list of questions, cut them into slips of paper, put them in a cup, and had people draw one out to answer, along with saying what they are thankful for. The questions were nothing embarrassing, but it was a good ice breaker (not everyone knew everyone else), and it was really interesting to hear the responses. Questions I included were things like: If you could change any one thing in the world what would it be? In one word, describe how you were as a child? What do you want to be remembered for? What was the best book you read this year? What is something you do to make the world a better place?
Hosting the vegan Thanksgiving potluck last night was a lot of fun. I look forward to doing it again. We had 24 people in my house for the event. I brought in an extra table from the garage, borrowed some chairs, had the kids sit at a separate kid's table, and we had a great time. The questions were wonderful because it got everyone talking, sharing, and learning about one another. We had lots of great food! It's awesome to see all the wonderful vegan dishes come into the house to be shared. I made Tofurky, mashed potatoes and gravy, and two pumpkin pies. But everyone brought a couple of dishes (even though they only needed to bring one!), and we had a great vegan Thanksgiving feast.
In our house the turkey is always welcome as a guest. My daughter set up a "station" where all the kids made origami turkey's and they read the book "Run, Turkey, Run!". We also have "Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving," and "A Turkey For Thanksgiving," which are all good books that offer an animal friendly story, but they were so busy running around playing that they only got one book read.
Here are some pictures from last night's vegan Thanksgiving potluck (we had so much food, but I don't have pictures of it all):