Have a Palm Oil Free Thanksgiving This Year

Thanksgiving is a food holiday, there's no denying that. It's also one of our favorites, as most offerings are primarily veggie-based. If you want to have a low impact holiday, then here's three objectives: avoid meat, dairy, and palm oil, focusing instead on organic and/or local vegetables. This isn't too difficult but strangely, if you're a vegan, you're more likely to consume palm oil this Thanksgiving than a meat-eater. And that's just silly.

Excluding the veg, here are three key elements to be wary of in the kitchen on the big day: 

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Vegan Dairy

Artificial butter — vegan or dairy based — relies on oil for spreadability and sometimes, the preservation of its form. But no worries, vegan butter is crazy easy to make at home. We have a comprehensive guide here. You can make your sticks soy-free with sunflower lecithin, just like Earth Balance, and use Nutiva's organic, refined, non-GMO coconut oil as a base. Prepare your butter 1-2 days in advance, noting the amount of butter needed in each recipe, to be prepared.

Similarly, if you are making creamed corn or baked goods with vegan milk, be mindful of untraceable palm oil in the form of Vitamin A palmitate. If you're looking for palm oil free soy milk, check out our ultimate guide here. If you're soy-free though, we recommend whipping up a quick batch of cashew or almond milk — way easier than you might think, if you've never done this before. Prepare your milk the evening before.

P.S. If you need vegan sour cream, Miyoko Schinner has great recipe in her latest book! Note that the mixture can take 24 hrs to culture but Schinner does offer a 'fast track' stove top method, too.

Vegan Turkey

The most difficult obstacle to overcome this Thanksgiving. It's frustrating to see palm-oil popping up in meat substitutions, especially if you went vegan for environmental reasons. Let's examine the big players:

Tofurkey's holiday line is palm oil free and their soy is domestic. 
Trader Joe's Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast with Gravy does not contain palm-oil.
Gardein offers three "turkey" meals, all of which are palm oil free, too.

Field Roast likely contains the most conflict-free palm of anything offered, sourced from POIG-backed Daabon in Colombia. Use your own discretion on this one — it is just one meal but you can easily make your own loaf at home.

Gluten-free vegans do it every year! Hop on over to Pinterest and you'll find hundreds of easy holiday roasts to make at home. This pastry-wrapped lentil loaf is gorgeous and filling. If you're gluten-free, this nut roast looks simple but dramatic enough for a fancy table setting. If you're feeling adventurous, culinary mastermind Miyoko Schinner has a video tutorial on how to make an UnTurkey.

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Pumpkin Pies

The big finale! Our main advice is making this bad boy in the comfort of your own home. It's probable that pies at your grocery store will contain untraceable palm oil. Vegan bakeries aren't much better — you can bet that most are using palm shortening too, the sustainability of which can be dubious. You should always shoot an e-mail or pick up the phone for either option; let them know you care.

But don't pick up a pie because you think you won't have the time or skill level to pull it off. The Minimalist Baker has a vegan, gluten-free pie recipe that is both easy and indestinguishable from perfect, store bought treats. If you're making butter, factor in the 6 tbsp you will need to make dessert. 


Considering that this is a veggie-heavy celebration, you don't really need palm oil to attend for it to be successful. If you want ethical palm oil to be a part of your event, consider washing up with Dr. Bronner's Castille soap afterwards. Otherwise, it's just another whole foods meal, like any other dinner you'd have on a Thursday night. Except maybe just a bit more decadent. 

Cooking a turkey roast back in the day was so stressful; nothing can top that in difficulty. Keep that fact in mind when you plan your cruelty-free menu this Thanksgiving. This will be a breeze!

Nut roast found via My Kind Closet