Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Recipes for a greener, healthier, kinder Thanksgiving

by Steve Jones

According to an industry group, approximately 736 million pounds of turkey (47 million individuals) were consumed in the US during Thanksgiving in 2009. Now, it takes about 2.8 pounds of feed to achieve 1 pound of weight gain for a turkey-- meaning that the America's voracious appetite for meat consumes more than 2 billion pounds of soy and corn meal, at Thanksgiving alone. This represents huge swaths of farm land, fertilizer, irrigation, transportation & heating, and massive amounts of sewage. If the same crops were fed to humans instead, world hunger would be a thing of the past! And it would go a long way towards abundant supplies of clean air, clean water, and lower carbon emissions. Annually, the US consumes more than 200 million turkeys.

Of course you still want a delicious, festive Thanksgiving meal! I hope the following recipes and photos will show you that Thanksgiving can be a satisfying, healthy feast of scrumptious variety, all without the need for an actual Turkey. Give it a try -- you'll learn something new, make a huge difference for the environment, trim your waistline, and probably save money, time, and trouble! In fact, these recipes are cheaper, quicker, and safer than baking a bird. If it works for you, make it part of your new holiday traditions that cherish bounty and joy, not gluttony & suffering.

If you follow health news (more often disease news), you'll consistently see the experts recommending a varied diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. What they're describing is a mostly vegetarian diet! A plant-based diet is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol free, has a wide variety of vitamins & minerals, protein, anti-oxidants, and fiber. This will keep the pounds off, the doctor away, and the bathroom visits short. And I promise- you won't go into a digestive coma after dinner!

Finally, some people argue that eating poultry is healthier than beef and has a smaller environmental footprint than raising cattle. While that may be true, there's another piece of the equation: suffering. To equal one cow, more than 40 turkeys, 80 chickens, or up to 200 fish must be slaughtered to produce the same amount of meat. One egg requires a hen to suffer 24 hours in a tiny cage. As a result, eating smaller animals, while often healthier and sometimes greener, greatly magnifies the amount of suffering in the world.

Stuffed Tofu aka Tofu Love Bomb
Provided by Lisa Shapiro

  • 5 blocks extra-firm tofu, press water out
  • 2 T chopped sage
  • 1 T tyme, minced
  • 1 T vegetable broth powder
  • 2 T poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 T soy sauce or Bragg aminos
  • 2 cups prepared stuffing
  • lots of prepared gravy, mushroom is good

Process tofu in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Add the tofu to a large mixing bowl and stir well to combine with the fresh chopped herbs, vegetable broth powder, and poultry seasoning. Line a colander with cheesecloth or a thin towel. Place the tofu in the colander and cover with another cheesecloth or thin towel. Place a weight of several pounds on top, and chill for 3 hours (use a tray or bowl to catch drips). Once the tofu is chilled and firm, scoop out the middle to create a "well", leaving at least 1 1/2 inches of a tofu "shell" in the colander. Gently pat your stuffing into the well, then gently press the extra tofu on top. Carfully invert your tofu turkey onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, red wine, Dijon mustard, and soy sauce, then brush onto the tofu generously. Bake for 90 minutes at 350 degrees, basting every 15 minutes. Serve in pie-shaped slices and cover in gravy!

Tofurkey in Puff Pastry
Provided by Dawn Jones

  • 1 package store bought puff pastry sheets, thawed (check pkg for eggs, butter)
  • 2 packages of Tofurkey sandwich slices (choose your favorite flavor)
  • 4 cups prepared stuffing
  • 1 cup Brown Gravy

Stuffing: (you'll have some left over to serve on the side)
  • 1 package of store bought dry Herbed Stuffing croûton. Check ingredients to ensure they are vegan!
  • 2 Tbs Earth balance ( or your favorite vegan margarine)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries (optional)

Melt margarine in a pan. Add onions. Allow onions to cook until translucent. Add celery. Allow to cook for 4 minutes. Add dry stuffing and slowly add broth. Stir until mixed well. Add more or less broth. Croûtons should be moist, but not saturated. Add cranberries. Cover pan and allow to stove cook on Low heat for 10 - 15 minutes.

Brown Gravy: (this recipe makes enough to have some in a gravy boat on the table)
  • 2 1/2 Cups Water or Vegetable Broth
  • 1/3 Cup Flour
  • 1/3 Cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • 2 Tlbs Bragg Liquid Amino's
  • 1/2 tea salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet (optional)

Mix dry ingredients in small pot. Add wet ingredients. Stir until thickens.

Brush cookie sheet w/ Olive Oil. Use at least 4 cups of the stuffing to form an oval mound in the middle of cookie sheet. Remove Tofurkey slices from packages and layer the slices over your stuffing mound. Brush Tofurkey slices w/ gravy between layers. Cover all w/ puff pastry. Tuck around sides, but the bottom of your pastry will be open to the cookie sheet w/ the stuffing in the center. Cut shapes w/ remaining puff pastry (leaves, hearts, peace symbol) and stick to puff pastry using water. Use shapes to cover any seams you may have in your puff pastry. Brush entire puff pastry w/ olive oil.
Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown.
Serves approximately 5 hungry people. Adjust quantities to make a bigger or smaller pastry.

Steve, Dawn and Lisa are members of the Boulder Vegan Meetup group. To learn about our community, visit:
Or to learn more about the what, why & how of a vegan lifestyle, visit


  1. Looks awesome, Steve! Wish I'd seen this before the holiday. Maybe some of these would work for our Christmas dinner. :-)