Holidays are synonymous with feasting with friends and family and are focused on meals that often center around meat. For anyone following a vegetarian or vegan diet, or even for someone who isn’t a fan of the traditional turkey on Thanksgiving or ham for the Holidays, there are alternatives available.
In the past plant-based and meatless options were far less grandiose than they are now—giving us lots of options. From steaks to turkey to roast, a small or large crowd can still enjoy a meal without opting for something that doesn’t follow tradition.
Here are the best holiday food alternatives.
Best Full Vegan/Vegetarian Feast
Tofurky Plant-Based Holiday Feast
Made with tofu
Feeds 6 people
No sides included
Anyone preparing a festive meal for a crowd of any size knows that for some things, convenience is key. Luckily, just like there are full meals available for meat feasts, there is a way to get a vegetarian tofu-based entree, gravy, and a dessert together in the same package.
Tofurky has been supplying non-meat-eating people with holiday roasts since 1995 but has been in business since its beginnings in Oregon in 1980, and this over 3-pound box is one you can get for your next feast. The roast itself is filled with stuffing and can be slathered with the gravy provided. For dessert, a plant-based brownie is included.
Price at time of publish: $38.52
Size: 3.8 pounds | Serves: 6 people | Allergens: Wheat, soy, coconut
"If shopping or cooking for a vegan, watch out for the sneaky addition of eggs and whey. There's nothing worse than a stomach ache on top of that conversation with the weird uncle! Also consider venturing out of the comfort zone a little bit; I’ve found some of the greatest soy-meat alternatives in frozen sections of Asian grocery stores. These usually get bought up pretty quick, but they’re quite a treat if you find them!" —Kale Walch, co-founder of The Herbivorous Butcher
Field Roast Sage & Garlic Plant-Based Celebration Roast
Quick cooking time
Can be served cold
Field Roast’s version of this meatless holiday main course is made with wheat protein and stuffed with butternut squash and lentils. The flavors and seasonings used couldn’t get more traditional—they include garlic, onion, apples, mushrooms, tomato, red wine, paprika, rosemary, carrots, sage, and more.
All it takes to get it to the table at your next gathering is 30 to 40 minutes in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can also be served cold in sandwiches and salads or cooked in small pieces on the stove.
One of the best parts about this meatless roast, though, is the price. At a few dollars per serving, it is cheaper than other vegetarian and vegan options out there.
Price at time of publish: $7.99
Size: 15 ounces | Serves: 3-4 people | Allergens: Wheat
Best Small Serving
Gardein Lightly Breaded Plant-Based Turk'y Cutlets
Cooks in 8 minutes
Might be too salty for some
If you don’t need a full turkeyless roast but still want to serve something with its flavor, these Turk’y Cutlets are a great choice. Gardein lightly breads these and includes a pack of gravy to pour over them once they are cooked for 15 to 20 minutes in the oven.
Each patty has about 9 grams of protein and has the taste and texture of real turkey, all while having a breaded crust. One bag contains four individual cutlets, which feeds about two people, so get a bag if you are only feeding a few non-meat eaters. Pair with mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, or any other seasonal side for a holiday meal that won’t make you miss meat.
Price at time of publish: $5.99
Size: 12.3 ounces | Serves: 2 people | Allergens: Wheat, soy
Lightlife Foods Plant-Based Chicken Breasts
Cook in about 25 minutes
Many alternative chicken options are breaded to mimic chicken nuggets, but if you are looking to swap out regular chicken breast for a meatless version, we recommend this one from Lightlife foods. It comes with two pieces made from chickpea flour and pea protein that you can cook in the oven or on the stove. They also come unseasoned, so you can flavor them to your liking based on the holiday meal being prepared.
Price at time of publish: $5.99
Size: 8 ounces | Serves: 2 people | Allergens: Wheat, coconut
"If cooking a vegan roast at home don’t be afraid to spice it up! Adding herbs and spices to the meat itself creates a depth that you can’t find in store-bought brands." — Kale Walch, co-founder of The Herbivorous Butcher
Tofurky Plant-Based Ham Style Roast
Made from tofu
Long cooking time
Ham is a favorite for holiday gatherings, and for anyone who isn’t eating meat, Tofurky makes a plant-based version. The faux-turkey company’s version has a smoky flavor and is covered in plastic casing and netting to make sure the experience is authentic.
You won’t be able to tell the difference in this over 1-pound ham during the cooking process—from frozen it goes into a 325-degree Fahrenheit oven for 2 hours and 15 minutes (for thawed it goes in for 1 hour and 15 minutes). It’s already glazed so just pour 0.25 cups of water over it before baking to make sure it doesn't dry out.
Price at time of publish: $20.51
Size: 19 ounces | Serves: 5 people | Allergens: Wheat, soy
Best for Sides
Hooray Foods Hickory Plant Based Bacon
Smells like the real thing
Breaks easily before it's cooked
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holiday meals usually have meat as the main course, but some of the sides incorporate it, as well. For ones that use bacon, swap it out with this Hooray Foods Hickory Plant-Based Bacon so non-meat eaters can still enjoy it with a full plate.
It can cook one of two ways—from room temperature in a frying pan for 90 seconds on each side and then an additional 30 until it’s crispy, or in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes. Be careful, as it is delicate coming out of the package. Once it’s ready, add it to green beans, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, biscuits, or any other side that is on the menu.
Price at time of publish: $9.79
Size: 5 ounces | Serves: 2-3 people (10 strips per package) | Allergens: Coconut
The Very Good Butchers Stuffed Breast Roast
Chickpeas as the primary ingredient
Can cook in the air fryer
Requires a lot of basting
Turkey, chicken, and ham isn’t the only type of roast that can be stuffed—this one from The Very Good Butchers is made with chickpeas but has everything that is loved from a meat version like juiciness, stuffing inside, and a flavorful outer skin.
After removing the string and mesh wrapping and pouring the baste over the roast, it cooks for about 50 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes. While basting with a recommended mixture of veggie stock, vegan butter, garlic, and herbs should be done every 15 minutes, this ensures the "meat" comes out moist and tender. If the oven is occupied, you can also cook it in the air fryer for about 45 to 60 minutes, basting every 10 minutes.
Price at time of publish: $39.99
Size: 2.9 pounds | Serves: 4-6 people | Allergens: Wheat, coconut
What to Look For
Many vegan/vegetarian/plant-based meats are made with different ingredients that taste and feel like meat, including tofu, chickpeas, seitan, soy, lentils, wheat gluten, and more. Many also have seasonings and flavors incorporated into the mix like garlic, onion, tomato, soy sauce, and others. Always check the nutritional label; some also use things like tree nuts, soy, wheat gluten, and other common allergens.
When cooking a plant-based/vegan/vegetarian celebration feast, make sure the packages of meat are the appropriate size. While animal turkeys, chickens, hams, and other meats can come in large sizes that can feed two dozen people, the meatless versions are not usually as big. The good news is that, unlike real meat, alternatives usually keep for a few days or weeks in the refrigerator or freezer, even after opening.
What is alternative turkey and ham made out of?
Brands like Tofurkey, Field Roast, Gardein, Beyond Meat, Lightlife, and more use plant-based ingredients in the products you can buy for any vegetarian/vegan guests. On the list of ingredients you’ll find ones like tofu, chickpea flour, soy protein, wheat gluten, lentils, pea protein isolate, and more that give it a meaty texture. Beet juice, garlic, onion, oils, sugar, lemon juice, and others add juiciness and flavor to replicate that of real meat.
How do you make vegan meat?
The packaging of the meatless option you pick up will have instructions for cooking on it, which is usually in the oven or on the stove (but sometimes in the air fryer). Just like real meat, these run the risk of giving anyone who eats it food poisoning should it not be cooked properly to kill off any harmful bacteria.
If you are making vegan meat from scratch at home for a holiday celebration or for a meatless dinner, the instructions will be clear about how to get everything just right. From Vegetarian Tofu Turkey with Stuffing to Seitan Vegan Pot Pie or Vegan and Gluten-Free Lentil Loaf, if you follow the steps, you won’t miss the meat at all!
How We Researched
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best vegan/vegetarian turkey and other meat on the market, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, price, and size—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Amanda McDonald is an editor at The Spruce Eats and has over seven years of experience researching, writing, and editing about all things food — from what new products are at the grocery store to chef-approved hacks that keep tricky leftovers fresh for days.
- Kale Walch, co-founder of The Herbivorous Butcher