Plant-based eating is becoming more popular, but many Americans still can’t picture Thanksgiving without a turkey. While you may believe that the only vegetarian bird available is a Tofurky, there are several options for a vegan turkey roast.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I compiled a definitive list of the best plant-based imitation turkey roasts for a vegetarian feast. So, as a dietitian, I tasted everything and rated it on taste, texture, appearance, and nutritional content. The following are the five that made the cut.
Top Alternative to Vegan Turkey
1. Field Roast’s Celebration Roast
Field Roast’s Celebration Roast has reigned supreme as the best-tasting vegan turkey in my family for vegan Thanksgiving dinner (at least when my brother arrives). This one will appeal to even the non-vegetarians in the home.
It has a delicious sage-and-garlic flavor that runs throughout the Roast rather than being isolated in a center stuffing. It has a hearty, satisfying mouthfeel due to its chewy thickness. Even though it looks more like a miniature brown torpedo than a turkey, the rippling effect on its exterior gives it the appearance of cooked ham, giving it the appearance of meat.
The Celebration Roast is made of seitan, a vegan protein made of wheat gluten —sorry, gluten-free guys, this one is as close to gluten-free as you can go. While each slice has 18 grams of carbohydrates, the Celebration Roast isn’t merely a gluten-free carbohydrate binge; one serving has 22 grams of protein.
Remember that an official serving is only one-eighth of the entire Roast. Meanwhile, the Celebration Roast’s high sodium level and lengthy ingredient list remind us that, like all plant-based meats, it’s a highly processed dish.
2. Quorn Meatless Roast
If you’re seeking a meatless alternative that tastes, feels, looks, and even smells like turkey, this is the one. My husband’s first remarks as he slipped a forkful into his lips were, “This tastes exactly like turkey. It tastes exactly like turkey.”
He wasn’t mistaken. Quorn’s mycoprotein-based vegan turkey roast came the closest to imitating the chewy, meaty texture of a Thanksgiving turkey of all the items I tried. It filled my house with a savory, almost oniony aroma as it baked, which carried over into the flavor. Its pale tint was eerily similar to that of a turkey.
I’m confident that this plant-based Roast, served with gravy and mashed potatoes (or next-day sandwiches), could persuade practically anyone of its genuineness. On the other hand, meatless eaters who don’t want to feel like they’re eating animal products may find Quorn off-putting.
In terms of nutrition, I was torn between Quorn’s Meatless Roast and its proprietary mycoprotein basis, which has been the subject of some debate. For starters, it’s created from fermented fungus spores that resemble mold, which some people — including me — find unappealing.
In addition, according to a 2018 study, mycoprotein can induce severe allergy and gastrointestinal problems in some persons. Nonetheless, the FDA deems mycoprotein to be “generally recognized as safe,” and I’m pleased to report that Quorn’s Meatless Roast’s ingredient list is delightfully minimal compared to other vegan turkey products. It’s also low in calories (140 per serving), salt, and protein (15 grams per quarter-roast) than other vegan roasts.
3. 365 Meatless Plant-Based Roasts With Gravy and Portobello Mushroom Stuffing
At only 4-inches tall, Whole Foods’ 365 Plant-Based Roasts with Gravy and Portobello Mushroom Stuffing are ideal for a little Thanksgiving dinner. These mini turkey-like roasts are the tiniest on the plant-based block, making them ideal for a vegan Thanksgiving for just one person or solitary dining.
The 365 roasts are created from seitan and soy protein, so they’re more like a super-hearty stuffing than real turkey. Their delicious mushroom and herb filling adds to the stuffing-like experience.
Though the roasts from 365 don’t look or feel like turkey, their protein level is comparable to fowl. A 290-calorie roast (with gravy) has 23 grams of protein, about the same as a 3-ounce serving of turkey breast, which has 26 grams. Of course, unlike turkey, the wheat gluten in seitan raises the carb count significantly (to 27 grams), and the sodium content is rather high (40 percent of the RDA).
4. Gardein Plant-Based Turkey Roast
The Gardein holiday roast, another seitan-soy combination, is a force to be reckoned with. This meatless main meal weighs in at over 2 pounds and takes over two hours to prepare. (Though, happily, no thawing is required.)
The Gardein Thanksgiving roast’s nutritional content reflects its increased size as well. One serving (one-fifth of the Roast) contains 260 calories, 24 grams of carbohydrates, and 19 grams of protein with the gravy pack included. As with other plant-based meats, one nutrient to watch out for here is sodium. One meal has 770 milligrams, 33 percent of the daily requirement.
5. Trader Joe’s Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast
If you’re lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s, don’t miss out on the Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast. It’s a huge, visually stunning roast that’ll look great on a Christmas platter.
It’s the main filling meal with a seitan foundation rolled around a bowl of rice, vegetable, and cranberry stuffing, then topped with crunchy bread crumbs. It’s a great option for individuals who like less fullness and more “meat.” While the cranberry taste wasn’t as pronounced as in the Gardein roast’s stuffing, I was just as happy with the more savory-forward flavor.
With 300 calories per serving (one-sixth of the Roast), TJ’s vegan turkey is the most calorie-dense of the roasts on this list, but it’s also the most protein-dense at 26 grams per slice. Interestingly, has less sodium than some options, and one serving contains 26 percent of the daily salt requirement.
What to Look for in a Vegan Turkey Roast?
Here are some things to bear in mind:
Ingredients: A large ingredient list can indicate a highly processed food, so choose a product with a shortlist of easily recognizable ingredients. Keep in mind any common allergies found in vegan products, such as gluten or soy.
Size: Some individuals prefer a smaller vegan turkey, such as 365’s personal-sized mini-roasts or Quorn’s four-serving Roast, while others hosting a large party will choose a larger roast, such as Trader Joe or Gardein’s.
Taste: For this list, I only included roasts whose flavor I personally enjoyed; I’d like to think I have good taste as a nutritionist and food writer. Remember that not everyone who eats plants wants to feel like they’re eating meat, so I included options for both sides.
Nutrition: Because all plant-based vegan turkey roasts are processed foods, their sodium content is sometimes rather high, and their ingredient lists are often long. However, there are differences in nutrition between brands, such as higher protein or lower carbs.
Portion size: It’s crucial to mind that the nutrient values for each Roast are dependent on the serving sizes assigned to them, which might vary significantly. Field Roast’s Celebration Roast has a serving size of 100 grams (one-eighth of the Roast). However, 365’s roasts have a serving size of 227 grams. When calculating calories and macros, not all roasts are created equal.
On Thanksgiving, What do Vegans Eat?
If you ask a group of vegans what they eat on Thanksgiving, you’ll receive a wide range of responses. Vegans can enjoy mashed potatoes made with olive oil instead of butter, maple syrup-sweetened cranberry sauce, a variety of vegetable dishes, and stuffing produced outside the turkey, in addition to a source of vegetarian protein. Even pumpkin pie may be made vegan by replacing the eggs and dairy components with plant-based alternatives.
It’s easier than you might think to make a completely vegan Thanksgiving feast with a few changes. Animal products can be removed from classic dishes with simple ingredient swaps, and cooking methods (such as baking stuffing outside the turkey) can also be changed.
Here are some more suggestions for making a plant-based Christmas meal, from appetizers to dessert:
Stuffing with whole wheat bread, apples, and leeks baked in the oven
Gravy made with mushrooms
Sweet potatoes roasted with cashew cream
Green beans sautéed in olive oil in a pan
Vegan butter on mashed potatoes
Cranberry sauce with maple syrup
Coconut milk with pumpkin mousse
How to Make the Best Vegan Turkey Roast?
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
A method with a food processor: In your food processor, combine the tofu, essential wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, water, miso paste, onion powder, vegetable broth powder, garlic powder, salt, thyme, and sage.
Blend the contents in the food processor with the S-blade until it is fully combined and forms a ball. This should happen fairly fast, but if it doesn’t, double-check that all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined before forming the dough into a ball by hand. *Do not knead the dough; it will become tough and rubbery if you do.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a food processor, you can mix everything by hand. Blend everything except the essential wheat gluten in a blender or an immersion blender until smooth. Now, in a large mixing basin, stir in the essential wheat gluten with a vigorous spatula or wooden spoon until a ball forms (you may need to use your hands). *Do not knead the dough; it will become tough and rubbery if you do.
Now it’s time to form your vegan turkey roast. Place your seitan ball on a piece of aluminum foil. You can pat the ball into any desired form. A somewhat oval shape appeals to me. It doesn’t have to be perfect; even a sloppy ball will look amazing.
Wrap the foil tightly but not too tightly around the ball. To guarantee a good wrap, I use two layers of foil.
Bring several inches of water to a boil in a big saucepan with a steamer basket. After the water has come to a boil, place the foil-wrapped seitan in the steamer basket and steam for 1 hour. In the foil, the seitan will bubble up and become tight. Remove the steamed vegetables and set them aside to cool. Allow the seitan to cool in the fridge overnight for the greatest texture. The seitan can be kept covered in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for later use.
To get the skin crispy and finish the Roast: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200C). Grease a baking tray lightly.
Combine the melted butter, garlic, soy sauce or salt, thyme, and black pepper in a small bowl.
Place the cooled seitan in the baking tray after removing the foil. Brush thoroughly with the garlic butter mixture.
Allow the rice paper to soften by submerging it in water and allowing it to sit on a clean surface for about 30 seconds.
Place the rice paper on the Roast (it’s fine if it’s a little stiff). To adhere the rice paper to the Roast, brush it with the butter and garlic mixture. With the increased moisture, the rice paper will continue to soften, and make sure it’s covering and sticking to the Roast. (Wrinkles and air bubbles are fine; those will be extra crispy parts.)
Isn’t this vegan turkey deliciously meaty? Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the Roast for 15 minutes. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 to 25 minutes, or until the outside is golden brown, brushing with the remaining butter garlic mixture. Allow 10 minutes to cool before slicing. As the skin cools, it will get crispier. Serve hot or chilled if you have any leftovers.
Finding a decent and tasty vegan turkey meat substitute is critical to boosting your Thanksgiving mood. Tofurkey is a delicious vegan option that is also quite healthful. This is fake meat, which has been on the market since the 1980s.
Tofurky makes one of the top Tofurkey products on the market. However, different brands sell this fake meat product in today’s market. Store-bought Tofurkey isn’t typically recommended by nutritionists, but a handmade version can be a different story. Many people, though, maybe put off by the idea of creating Tofurkey.
It is preferable and healthier to choose other options than Tofurkey in such a situation.