The Kind Life is a community around Alicia Silverstone and The Kind Diet where friends, doctors, experts in green living, and members share vegan tips.


My Thoughts on Thanksgiving…

Thanksgiving is just around the corner—and I have mixed emotions about it. I love this truly American tradition of family, the celebration of the seasons changing, and getting all warm and cozy while sharing our love and gratitude (and eating some seriously yummy food). But why do we have to do all that with a big, dead animal in the middle of the table?! For me, that’s a total love-and-gratitude buzz kill.

Back in the day, all those pilgrims were giving it up for the incredible abundance from the earth that nourished them back to health. Sure, that included the whole dead-bird thing (not to mention the eventual pillaging of native lands and peoples), but we aren’t living in the same times. We aren’t just killing a bird once a year for necessity and nourishment; we’re killing 660,000 animals an hour in this country alone, every single day. Let’s be honest, we’re not those starving pilgrims any more.

I say we still channel some of that Mayflower love, though, and do it in a pure, responsible way. The best way to give our most heartfelt acknowledgments to Mother Earth is by being good to her! It takes 3 times as much fossil fuel (the primary cause of the greenhouse effect) to produce a meat-centered diet than a meat-free one, and more than half of the water we use in the United States goes towards livestock production. Is that really how you want to show your appreciation? And is taking one life to say thanks for another really doing your Golden Rule best? I say we give back, instead of just taking.

So what’s the solution? I say a big, true, compassionate, and beautiful Thanksgiving. I want Bear to grow up in a loving environment that’s conscious of and kind to all. That’s why we try to host a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at our house a few weeks before the actual day. Because most of our friends will be with their families on the actual holiday, this way we can gather as much of our tribe as possible—sometimes as many as 28 people! (Check out both these videos part 1 & 2.) My goal is always to serve the most delicious, decadent dishes that have everyone—including meat-eaters—wondering why they even bother with the foods that don’t serve their bodies well (I’m looking at you, meat and dairy!) and leave them feeling sluggish, bloated, and gross after their usual feast. The best is when people say they would eat this way all the time if they could eat like what they just ate, and I say you can!

It can definitely be a tricky time for a veggie around Thanksgiving, especially if you’re going home to see your non-veggie family. My tip is to call ahead and say, “Hi there, I’m not sure if you know, but I’m trying really hard to be vegan and would love to know if I can help prepare all the side dishes so that they are okay for me to eat. I promise you will love them and won’t even know the difference.” Alternatively, you could bring a dish you know you’ll be able to eat, with enough to share with others. Or you could invite everyone to your place and make a great meal. Sure, the turkey won’t make an appearance, but no one will care once they’ve tasted your other amazing dishes.

I would love to hear about your holiday, what you ended up making and how it went. I hope you have a warm and cozy day filled with love and delicious, memorable food.

For more Thanksgiving thoughts and recipes reference:

My 2012 Thanksgiving in NY

My 2010 Thanksgiving menu

Entree to dessert recipes

Side dishes

Vegan wine and beers

Adopt a Turkey!

Ideas on Thanksgiving take out

More ideas on Thanksgiving kind style

Pecan pie!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Amazing Pumpkin Pie

Quick & Easy Cranberry Sauce

Thanksgiving Pizza


Photo Credit: Indulgy


  • Mandy Laprade

    My current plan is to do something similar to this: I live in Germany so I can do ThanksLiving however I want to and not many people are in a position to argue with me that it ought to be done differently 😉 Besides I’ve done this several years in a row and I don’t even mention that the sides are all V and barely anyone asks or notices. They just know they like sweet potato casserole with pecans, they like green bean casserole with mushroom sauce and caramelized onions, they love cornbread, salads with three dressings to choose from- all made from scratch, I can get V puff pastry for apple tarts etc…Just my husband knows right away if I’ve tried adding V cheese to anything. He can’t stand any of them so I just don’t use it at all. Whenever I’m in the US I stock up on V marshmallows, V chocolate chips etc. But you can buy all of it here too, especially online, it’s just more expensive.

    • Veganlady

      Love this! Thanks living!

  • Vegan Vintage Geek

    Great well written post, good idea hosting a pre-Thanksgiving dinner . This is one of the reasons I do not attend thanksgiving at my families houses. I spend it with my vegan ( family second) friends and eat great food.

  • Carissa123

    I am so excited for my first vegan thanksgiving! I bought a field roast puff pastry wrapped roast and found a recipe for green bean casserole with nothing out of a can, shocking I know, and I plan on bringing a butternut squash wild rice salad to my family’s dinner. I can’t wait to share wholesome kind food with others around the table!

  • Carissa123

    I am so excited for my first vegan thanksgiving! I bought a field roast puff pastry wrapped roast and found a recipe for green bean casserole with nothing out of a can, shocking I know, and I plan on bringing a butternut squash wild rice salad to my family’s dinner. I can’t wait to share wholesome kind food with others around the table!

    • TheKindLife

      sounds delicious!!

  • Colliemom

    Good points… One thing I might change however is that we give thanks to God, not the earth on Thanksgiving. And I agree, just as we no longer honor God with bloody sacrifices, we do not need to kill to give thanks.

  • Philippe Orlando

    Yes I do fail to see how a tortured bird, grossly disfigured by genetic manipulations, can actually be at the center of Thanksgiving.

  • Tammy Cohen

    My husband and I host every year and my family knows it’s a big, delicious vegan Thanksgiving! They have loved it all so far and mostly we talk about how amazing the food is and how it’s unbelievable why people think they NEED to bake with eggs, put butter on everything and kill a living thing to enjoy the day. Okay, well maybe it’s just me talking about all of that but everyone’s mouths are full so it’s okay! I think we’ve convinced them to look at this as a unique and cool experience to brag about! Now we have a little “kind” baby and we are so looking forward to her first Thanksgiving being kind as well! Thank you for all of your inspiration!!!!

    • TheKindLife

      thanks Tammy!!

  • Rhonda

    If we go to friends, I always bring a couple of dishes. We try to have it at our place every other year and make it totally vegan and delicious. Our meat eater friends eat 2 – 3 plates of the meal and they love it. I often will use the stuffed Field Roast or I make a phyllo dough stuffed with mushrooms, stuffing and spinach or kale. I make all the traditional sides and a divine pumpkin pie. It is fun to share this healthful meal.
    I love the video idea below of the ThanksLiving get together.

  • zLindsz

    I love your idea of a pre-Thanksgiving dinner! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Alicia :) Couldn’t agree more!

  • Scotlyn O’Daniel

    Thanks Alicia for such great information and ideas. Your recipes look
    too good to not try! Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving everyone!

  • Veganlady

    I have mixed emotions about this day, only because I did my own research, but not only that, I’m grateful everyday.. I’m really not a holiday religious reasons….I really don’t follow a long with what the world is doing…During this time, people always want to show what celebrities are doing and how they are feeding the homeless, but they need to eat everyday not just on “thanksgiving”… I’m the same way with Christmas, I really don’t celebrate it, never have, I don’t see the purpose of waiting until the 25th to give someone a gift. I have all year to give people something and to show them, how much I care and love them…. This is just me and I know a lot of people will not agree… because they are used to celebrating this holiday…. But I know that Jesus wasn’t born on the 25th. I’ve done my research on that too. But to each is own…I love having pumpkin during this time of year, but I eat a veggie grain loaf by field roast. It’s delicious. I haven’t had turkey since my mom, cooked one thanksgiving in 94. She passed in 95. I gave up meat when I was 16 . I’m 35 now. Best decision I ever made after losing so many women in my life. I don’t see the purpose of a dead animal in the middle of the table. I always wondered about that as a child and been inquisitive. She told me about the true origin of Thanksgiving and I just choose no to celebrate, its great to be around friends if I get invited out but my family never really celebrated holidays, we were just grateful everyday to eat and have a roof over our head. No holiday needed :) I hope everyone has a great time though :) I never have the holiday blues..or worry about holiday weight, lol.. Some of these holidays are just so commercialized..Usually around this time. I’m working since I’m single, lol

  • Veganlady

    I made a veggie lasagna and when people taste my food they don’t miss the eat at all. Its so flavorful. I gave up meat when I was 16, I’m 35 now. I lost a lot of weight and I got healthier. My father tried to literally force me to eat beef and eggs, he came in one day before I went to school and wouldn’t let me out of is room, he rushed to make me a beef and egg sandwich. He just wanted to control me. He hated the fact that I changed my diet. He said muslims are not vegetarians. He wasn’t den a real muslim, he just wanted to control me my eating. He tried to force me to eat ice cream too. I wasn’t skinny or bones, I just lost a lot of weight and plus I was walking to and from school. I got sick at school and they called him and he was like thats halal meat, it shouldn’t make me sick because its muslim meat. Really?!!! What the hell is muslim meat??? After that day, I gave it up. I wasn’t a child that wouldn’t eat their vegetables, I was 17. I was like I’m not eating this and he wouldn’t let me out his room and I had school. I was late to class and I just ate the sandwich and as soon as I got outside I brought it up. but sick later on in school. Every time I cooked, I just left out the meat. I met my best friend and ever since she told me what animals went through, I gave it up, just that quick, I always hated beef, because while young we literally ate it everyday, we ate at school then had one meal at home and it was always hamburgers. I developed real quick as a child because of the hormones in meat. I found out later on why I developed so quick because of the food. Humans don’t realize that second handily they are consuming steroids through food. Its crazy how they can arrest athletes for taking steroids, but they won’t arrest the FDA for putting steroids in animals.

  • Cara Eisen

    Could have done without the line “not to mention the eventual pillaging of native lands and peoples”. I mean hasn’t everyone done this?? Including the warring Indians who fought and took lands from each other?? Otherwise a nice article. I had a wonderful bird-less Thanksgiving. It was easy for me especially since I always loved the side dishes better anyway. Made a raw pumpkin pie and a raw gravy which were amazing. Everyone was very pleased. From now on bird-less it is.