I can honestly tell you the biggest challenge with being vegan is the word “vegan.”

While most people know what a vegetarian is, I find a large percentage of the population doesn’t have a clue what a vegan is. When I mention the word, some folks think it is some kind of hippie with too much spare time or a member of a crazy cult. 

Basically, being vegan is not eating animal products, constantly telling people that you can get protein from more than just meat and that you eat more than just salads. 

So you can see sometimes there can be a challenge when you have friends or family come over for meals. When you put the word “vegan” in front of the name of a dish, you get the word “yuck” all the time before the company even tries what you are cooking.

That’s why when we serve up a delicious meal, we just leave the word out and don’t make a big deal about it.

You know what happens most of the time? Those same people are asking for the recipe or seconds. 

So for a holiday party or family get-together, try serving up some pumpkin chili. Most people associate pumpkin with the holiday season and they won’t think twice about not having any meat in it.

We just brought this dish to a buffet-style Christmas party and folks kept asking for more because it is delicious and we never told anyone it was vegan. 

Remember, it is pumpkin chili not vegan pumpkin chili.

Give it a try and happy holidays!


8-ounce package of tempeh

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup canned pumpkin (or squash)

28-ounce can diced stewed tomatoes

15-ounce can kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed

6-ounce bottle of chili sauce

1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

If you like spicy chili, consider adding a touch of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or cayenne pepper.

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients and slow cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.

Or on the stove in a soup pot, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Serve with your favorite chili toppings, except cheese and sour cream because then it wouldn’t be vegan (there are vegan substitutions though). 

Jeff Peterson anchors the 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. news on WGME-TV and is a vegan.