Vegetarian Roasts for Thanksgiving and Christmas

Vegetarian Holiday Foods

Being Vegetarian can be extremely challenging at times. It is especially difficult when eating out or eating holiday meals with people who are not vegetarian. Of course most people have become very trained to eat turkey or ham for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have frequently been asked what I do eat at Thanksgiving and Christmas by people who don’t really understand the concept of not eating meat. Of course any dish that does not contain meat or meat by products is  suitable for vegetarians. In the last 10 years or so there has been some amazing advancements in healthy meat alternatives. It is important to make sure that any meat alternative you choose doesn’t have any scary chemicals that aren’t on the label such as Hexane (a neurotoxin also found in gasoline). Here are some of the most amazing vegetarian roasts that taste great and are healthy as well. These products are available in the natural section of most major Grocery stores and health food stores in the US. Even if you are not a vegetarian, I strongly suggest giving these vegetarian roasts and meat alternatives a try.

Quorn Turk’y Roast

Quorn is My absolute number one favorite of all the vegetarian meat alternatives, before I stopped eating meat I preferred Quorn over chicken or turkey. Quorn has been made in England from mycoprotien (from the mushroom family) since 1985. It is low in fat and high in fiber and protein, and although it is vegetarian, Quorn is not vegan since they do use non battery eggs as a binder. Quorn is one of very few vegetarian meat alternatives available that is not made from soy. There was a controversy in 2002 when Quorn first launched in the US. Gardenburger an inferior competitor who; to my knowledge, still uses hexane to process their soy, was threatened by the obviously superior competition and tried to have Quorn removed from the marketplace. Luckily they were unsuccessful at this attempt. Quorn is available year round in many forms not just Turk’y Roast, some of my favorites are: Chik’n Nuggets, Chik’n Patties, Beef-Style Grounds, Turk’y Burger, and when I really want a treat I get the Gruyere Chik’n Cutlet.

Tofurky Roast

It’s kind of funny sounding and when I first heard of Tofurkey Roasts, I have to admit, I thought they was some kind of joke. The first time I had a Tofurkey Roast back around 2001 or 2002, I was a bit disappointed. They have improved substantially since then, I now tend to eat several of the roasts every year. Tofurkey Roasts were introduced in 1995 and are made by a small independent company from Hood River, Oregon called Turtle Island Foods. Tofurkey is made with soy but they use organic non GMO soy and no nasty chemicals. Tofurkey Roasts all come pre-stuffed with a wild rice and whole wheat bread crumb stuffing and are best when roasted with your favorite vegetables. They include directions of the packages for a couple of different baste options. My favorite is the incredibly simple:

3 tablespoons olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground sage

I usually double the ingredients of this baste  and use it for both Tofurkey and Quorn roasts. There are a large variety of Tofurkey products available year round. All of them are vegan and amazing. My absolute favorite Tofurkey product is the Hickory Smoked Tofurky Deli Slices.

Field Roast

Field Roast is a vegan meat alternative made from grain. It is based on the Chinese vegetarian meat alternative seitan which is also known as “wheat meat” or “wheat gluten”. Field Roast was created in 1997, and is made by a small company in Seattle Washington called Field Roast Grain Meat Co. The Celebration Roast comes with a stuffing made from butternut squash, apples, and mushrooms.  My favorite Field Roast products that are not Celebration Roasts are the Mexican Chipotle Sausage and the Smoked Apple Sage sausage. I really enjoy Field Roasts but they are much more difficult to find than Tofurkey and Quorn, even here in Washington State.

Incoming Searches
  • vegetarian roasts

Hidden Animal By-products in Your Food

I have been a vegetarian for many years now and one thing that really bothers me is the amount of hidden animal by-products in food. It can be really hard to find food that is completely vegetarian. Here are a few of the extremely common animal by products, that really bother me, that most people don’t even realize are made from animals.

Rennet- this is a complex of enzymes used in cheese making that usually come from baby cow or pig stomachs. The animals have to be young enough to have not been weaned for the rennet to have the proper enzymes to make cheese. There are many great substitutes for animal rennet such as microbial rennet. Most commercial cheeses that don’t specify that they are made from microbial rennet or  are made from animal rennet. If a cheese has chymosin on the label that is another word for animal rennet.

A cow

Gelatin-this is one of the ingredients that many people are likely to know comes from animals but I am shocked at how many people don’t know until I tell them. Gelatin is the main ingredient in products like Jello or Gummy Bears and can be found in many other products such as yogurt. Gelatin is usually made by boiling the skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones of cows and pigs after the meat has been harvested. It can also be made from fish or other animals. One of the best alternatives to gelatin is agar agar which is made from seaweed so it does not contain any animal products.

Magnesium Stearate-this is found primarily in  supplements and medications. It can also be in hard candies and baby formula. If the product doesn’t specify that the magnesium stearate is made from a vegetarian source it is probably made from animals.

Cochineal-also called Carmine this one is an especially big pet peeve of mine. This is a red coloring made by grinding up the cochineal beetle. This particular coloring can be found in yogurts, soft drinks, Juices and any other food product that is red or pink. There was recently a rule passed by the FDA requiring manufacturers to list this insect on food labels most likely because it can cause anaphylaxis. There are many great alternatives to using insects for coloring. Grape skins and beets are excellent natural vegetarian sources for red coloring.

I am not saying that nobody should consume these products. I do believe being a vegetarian or not is a very personal choice that everyone should be allowed to make for themselves. Everyone should also have the proper information about where the ingredients in their food comes from.