Restaurants in two upscale hotels in Greater Portland will offer vegan entrees on their Thanksgiving menus for the first time this year. Thanksgiving diners at Sea Glass at the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth and Union in the Press Hotel in Portland will see vegan choices alongside the traditional options.

Many hotels in Maine serve special Thanksgiving meals, but in the past vegan offerings have been limited to side dishes. While a few hotels offer vegetarian entrees on Thanksgiving, the addition of vegan ones to at least two hotel menus is a milestone in Maine’s ongoing embrace of plant-based cuisine.

The offerings are in line with a shift in the wider hospitality industry to offer more vegan choices in response to market demand. In October, the British Good Hotel Guide published its top 10 list of customer complaints. Poor wi-fi was No. 1, followed by dim bedroom lighting. The only food complaint to make the top 10 was number seven: no vegan menu.

There’s certainly plenty of room for growth on that front. Last fall, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals posted a list of hotels offering vegan menus. The list included three upscale chains and one all-vegan inn in California, while the German-based site VeganHotels.com lists only 40 vegan-friendly hotels across the entire globe.

Here in Maine, I’ve reported in this space on bed and breakfasts adding vegan options and outdoor adventure companies serving up vegan meals.

Both Sea Glass and Union offer vegan entrees on their regular menus. The two restaurants also book reservations weeks in advance of Thanksgiving, so if you’re interested, you need to act fast.

“We see the trend,” said Josh Berry, executive chef at Union, who has been eating vegetarian since New Year’s Day. “Even omnivores are eating more vegetarian meals. I definitely see vegetarianism and veganism becoming more of an accepted norm.”

For Thanksgiving, Union will offer smoked squash stuffed with tempeh and wild rice and finished with a ginger gastrique. Last year, Union fulfilled vegan Thanksgiving requests with an off-menu dish of acorn squash and smoked tofu. This year, the vegan choices will be printed alongside the roast turkey. The restaurant is offering salads and vegetable sides, too, of course, and desserts will include a vegan lemon sorbet with warm fig chutney and a sprinkle of dukkah (an Egyptian seed, nut and spice blend).

At Sea Glass in Cape Elizabeth, executive chef Andrew Chadwick said his kitchen fields orders for vegan meals every day, and as a result he and his team decided to extend their plant-based offerings to the Thanksgiving menu.

“People eat vegan for health or to try new things,” Chadwick said. “We always have vegan on the menu.”

Two of the three Thanksgiving soup choices at Sea Glass are plant-based: butternut squash and lentil with vegan apple-maple sausage. For the salad course, vegans can feast on roasted beet with quinoa and citrus.

“Instead of traditional turkey and stuffing,” said Chadwick when asked about the vegan entree choice, “we’re going to do Hasselback butternut squash, sliced thin and then roasted whole with bay leaf, maple and cracked pepper.”

The squash will come with a side of wild rice and oat stuffing, roasted root vegetables, and osso bucco in which carrot chunks – on a bed of braised chickpeas – will stand in for the traditional veal shanks. A baked apple with soy ice cream will cap the vegan Thanksgiving.

According to Chadwick and Berry, it’s only a matter of time before more hotels offer vegan entrees for Thanksgiving.

“With the amount of guests we see coming in with dietary restrictions or healthy eating, there is such a big call for vegan,” Chadwick said. “We have fun with it and make a fully constructed meal with a sauce. We treat it as a fully composed dish. I think you will see a lot more people trying to execute that.”

For now, I’m grateful Sea Glass and Union are leading Thanksgiving service into the plant-based era.

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland, Maine. She can be reached at

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