What is the history of Thanksgiving and when did we all start celebrating? A short version of the story is as follows, in 1621 the pilgrims and Indians came together to share in the bounty of the earth. Following this the first recorded Thanksgiving observance wasn’t until 1671 and happened in Charlestown on June 29th.  Then in 1789 president George Washington declared the first Thanksgiving observance under the new national government. But it wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln announced the official fixed date to be the last Thursday of November. Just like that, the turkey holiday was born.

From the start, Thanksgiving has been a holiday surrounding the sharing of food and the giving of thanks. The iconic Thanksgiving food in today’s pop culture is perhaps the turkey.  Trying to keep environmental impact low however means excluding the holidays mascot from the table. Turkeys use up a lot of resources to raise, receive large amounts of antibiotics and have toxins in them. We all know that to lower our carbon foot print we want to consume foods that are at the base of the food chain, namely plant products. But unless you are already a committed vegetarian resisting that sumptuous bird in the middle of the table or envisioning Thanksgiving without it might be tricky. However, now-a-days there are many alternative turkey options to help you make that jump.

tofurky

The poster child of these options is Tofurky. Tofurky has been providing a turkey like alternative for non-meat eaters since 1995. But there are many other options on the market as well if Tofurky doesn’t do it for you. Some other brands Include Field Roast Grain Meat Company, Quorn’s and Gardein.

gardein roast

Many options can be found online or in stores like Whole Foods Market which sells the Gardein holiday roast 3.99 for a 6 oz serving (above).

veggie whole turkey

If a log shaped turkey substitute is not for you and you want to try something more closely resembling a turkey they’ve got that too. Vegetarian Plus makes a turkey shaped turkey substitute that you can even stuff with your own stuffing (above). It’s a bit pricey, Vegetarian Essentials is selling it at 69.99, but despite this they are sold out for the season.

apple turkey

But who says that you have to have a meat like turkey substitute for your table? You can have the iconic turkey on your table alongside your farmers market vegetables as a fun creative platter. This example above uses fresh farmers’ market organic apples sliced and fanned out in alternating colors to create a turkey around a center of dip. Here they have used caramel as a dip but you can easily switch that our for peanut, hazelnut or almond butter.

fruit turkey

Your alternative turkey options are almost limitless. Another fun idea I found features fresh halved strawberries and tangerine wedges (above). If vegetables are more your speed try a set up with carrots, celery and bell peppers. Don’t be afraid to break tradition and try something new.