The 2022 all-vegan Thanksgiving buffet is set up and ready for guests to help themselves. Photo by Avery Yale Kamila

After 50 years as a guest at non-vegetarian Thanksgivings, I hosted my first all-vegan Thanksgiving last year, and while I’m clearly biased, it was the best-tasting, most fragrant Thanksgiving ever.

I’ve been to vegan Thanksgivings before; however, they’ve all been held on alternative dates. Last year was the only time I’ve given thanks for Maine’s harvest bounty on the fourth Thursday in November without the smell of roasted flesh in the air. It was a true Gentle Thanksgiving.

I didn’t have to worry about whether there was cow’s milk in the mashed potatoes or eggs in the pumpkin pie. The meal was totally plant-based and extremely delicious. While it involved work, as any dinner party does, the labor was less than is required when the host decides to roast a bird.

My preparations began a few days before Thanksgiving as I stocked up. I picked up a pumpkin icebox pie from Sticky Sweet in Portland and, after a wait in a very long line in a Portland parking lot, I took possession of a number of festive pre-made dishes from Salt + Pepper Social in Newcastle, including a leftovers pie, a pumpkin bread and a dozen Nana’s oatmeal rolls. I made stops at the Portland Farmers’ Market and the Portland Food Co-op to pick up fresh cranberries, gold potatoes, honeynut squash, Brussels sprouts, shiitake mushrooms and copious amounts of fresh herbs.

From market vendor Snell Family Farm of Buxton, I bought a centerpiece made with a mix of pine and fir boughs, dried seed heads, milkweed pods, small gourds, an apple and a candle. I added a few more gourds and with a champagne-colored tablecloth and orange and gold napkins, my tablescape was complete.

The day before Thanksgiving, while my husband was at work, my then 9-year-old son and I began the cooking. He chopped all the shiitake mushrooms as I chopped the onions, garlic and fresh herbs to make the mushroom gravy. As we chopped, the cranberries simmered on the stovetop sweetened by some single-batch maple syrup from Little Farm in Naples.


Then we prepped the Brussels sprouts, cutting them in half and storing them in the fridge. Once roasted, they would be tossed with a mixture of tamari, maple syrup and freshly ground black pepper.

Making the pumpkin seed croquettes was the main task of the day. We cooked the rice, sautéed the onions and ground the pumpkin seeds, then combined all three with heaps of chopped sage, oregano and fresh garlic, before shaping them into croquettes. I stored the uncooked croquettes in their baking pans in the fridge.

An arrangement of pies, breads, brownies and cookies, all ready to be consumed on the all-vegan Thanksgiving dessert table. Photo by Avery Yale Kamila

The next day, I was up early to get ready for the midday meal. The first task was to peel the potatoes (my nod to a special occasion, since typically I mash them with the skins on) and ready the squash for roasting. I spread the prepped Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet and placed the uncooked Salt + Pepper Social rolls in a baking dish.

By 10:30 a.m., it was time to fire up the ovens (I’m blessed with two kitchens in my Portland apartment) and begin roasting. The smell of the harvest season soon filled the air. My mother- and father-in-law arrived bearing a Tofurky roast, a tossed salad, cookies and a bouquet of flowers. My father appeared with a still-warm, homemade apple pie.

Then the real work began as my mother-in-law and I cooked all the different dishes and kept them warm until it was time to turn a kitchen counter into a buffet to which we added bottled salad dressings and a bowl of steamed, buttered peas. We piled our plates high and headed to the table. There we shared what we were grateful for. My list included celebrating Plantsgiving, otherwise known as Gentle Thanksgiving.

I’m extremely sensitive to smells and may be one of the few people who found relief when COVID temporarily knocked out my olfactory senses. At every Thanksgiving I’ve attended until last year, I’ve always caught a whiff of a few unpleasant odors that linked the event in my mind with spoiled meat. At my all-vegan Thanksgiving, the aroma was a heady mixture of freshly baked bread, roasting squash and sage. That alone was enough to secure my gratitude. However, as taste and smell are intimately linked, one of the most satisfying moments came after the buffet was mere leftovers, and a non-vegetarian guest declared, “This is the best-tasting Thanksgiving ever.”


I completely agreed.


Because Thanksgiving is a feast, it helps to have guests bring dishes and supplement with ready-made offerings from local restaurants, markets and food producers. Here are some places that are offering vegan Thanksgiving food:

Among the many vegan desserts offered by b+b Bakery in Portland are pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, spiced apple cider cupcakes, carrot cake cupcakes and carrot cake whoopie pies.

Little Lad’s in Corinth, and retailers Portland Food Co-op, Lois’ Natural in Scarborough and Royal River Natural in Freeport, are selling Little Lad’s pies in flavors such as pumpkin with vanilla creme, lemon creme, apple, apple-cranberry, blueberry and strawberry-rhubarb.

Midcoast Vegan in Brunswick is taking preorders for 2½-pound turkey loafs, blueberry-walnut cheese logs and holiday hams. Order deadline is Nov. 15. Pickup is by appointment in Brunswick or Nov. 15 in Portland. Place orders online at


Planted in Kittery, which makes plant-based sauces, is selling its mushroom gravy and pumpkin pie dip at Maine Market in Eliot, Lovebirds Donuts in Kittery and Rising Tide Co-op in Damariscotta.

Salt + Pepper Social in Newcastle is offering the largest vegan holiday menu, with more than 30 individual dishes, including mini cranberry brie puffs, mushroom and thyme pâté, ginger-miso-butternut soup, mushroom gravy, cranberry chutney, sausage stuffing, green bean casserole, cornbread bake, kale salad, lentil Wellington, butternut squash lasagna, maple bourbon pumpkin brûlée pie and salted chocolate pecan pie. Order deadline is Nov. 14. Pickup is Nov. 22 in Portland or Nov. 21-22 in Newcastle. Place orders online at

SAO Cooks and Catering in Cornish, which runs The Greenhouse vegan food cart, is taking preorders for cornbread stuffing, mushroom gravy, sweet Southern cornbread, pumpkin pie, cashew cheesecake, pecan pie and snickerdoodle cookies. Order deadline is Nov 20. Call 207-636-6592 or email to order.

Sticky Sweet in Portland is taking preorders for pints of ice cream as well as pumpkin icebox pie made with a walnut-date crust. Place orders online at

The Whole Almond in South Portland is taking preorders for holiday nog, pumpkin pie, chocolate cream pie, apple pie and cinnamon rolls. Order deadline is Nov. 16. Orders can be picked up at Fork Food Lab on Nov. 23-24. Place orders online at

Vickie’s Veggie Table in Biddeford is taking preorders from a full vegan holiday menu featuring butternut squash soup, autumn beet salad, savory veggie phyllo pie, lentil loaf, mushroom gravy, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cream pie. Order deadline is Nov. 13th at 7 p.m. Ordered items can be picked up Nov. 17 or Nov. 22 from 4 to 6 p.m. Text 207-205-3471 to place an order.


Whole Foods in Portland is taking preorders for a full vegan holiday menu that includes mushroom and root vegetable en croûte, roasted butternut squash with cranberries and sage, curried pumpkin soup, mushroom gravy and pumpkin pie. Orders must be placed 48 hours in advance of pickup at


Gatherings 4 Main Street in Dexter is hosting its third annual community vegan Thanksgiving meal on Nov. 15 from noon to 2 p.m. Organizers say the meal is a thank you to the community for their support of the restaurant and community center. Donations are welcome but not required. The vegan menu will include roasted squash, candied yams, mashed potatoes, gravy, mac and cheese, cranberry sauce, stuffing, BBQ meatballs, pumpkin pie, apple pie, blueberry pie and cherry pie. Orders can be placed ahead of the meal by calling the restaurant at 207-924-2232.

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

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