Gluten Free? Vegan? No Problem! Holiday Meals Everyone Will Love!

When you think of Thanksgiving, many things come to mind, generally turkey, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green bean casserole to name a few. Very few think of veganism or any sort of Thanksgiving without meat or dairy. 

Some people have limited options on Thanksgiving due to dietary restrictions like lactose intolerance, while others might have a gluten allergy. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale. But no matter what restrictions you have (vegan, GF, or otherwise)anyone can still enjoy food this holiday with some delicious alternatives!

Plate of food
A vegan & gluten free Thanksgiving plate of food costs the same as a regular Thanksgiving plate of food, $6.

Vegan food is natural and plant based, so there is no meat or dairy. Living a vegan life also has an undeniable amount of health benefits, producing an overall better quality of life, but some people are limited because of allergies or dietary restrictions and cannot have meat or dairy even if they wanted to. 

End The Stigma

In order to end the stigma of vegan food and the blandness of gluten free food, our office had a Vegan & Gluten Free Thanksgiving. 

One excuse people often use against trying a vegan diet is that vegan and gluten-free meals are so expensive. This isn’t true, if you cook a vegan holiday meal, it is possible to pay about the same to cook a meal with animal products. The average cost of a Thanksgiving meal is about $5-$6, and the meal that was cooked by our office’s Head of Social Media and Content, Cassandra Love, amounted to about $6 a plate per person. This included 6 courses, gravy, and dessert. That is a win! Nothing was processed or any fake meat products, it was all from scratch and all homemade following popular online recipes.

The important thing to remember is to keep your options open with your diet. Do not compare everything you try to what you are used to eating because they are simply not the same. Look at these things as a brand new experience, unrelated to meat or things you have tried before.

The Main Course:

Whole roasted cauliflower head with vegetables in gravy.

Like any traditional Thanksgiving meal, there has to be the main course. The office had whole roasted cauliflower heads basted in spices, along with different vegetable cuts and slices. 

Gravy was poured over the cauliflower before they were roasted, leaving a crispy glaze over top. This gravy was made with vegan butter, nutmeg, garlic, shallots, tahini, low sodium soy sauce, and vegan worchestire sauce to name a few. As you would expect, it caught meat lovers off guard with how delicious it was. 

Many people, some who do not generally like cauliflower, liked the course. And while the gravy had mixed reviews, one person even commented that the gravy tasted like beef broth!

The Sides:

After boiling some water and cooking the green beans, they were added to the delicious creamy sauce. The sauce was produced over a skillet combining vegan butter, shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, and mushrooms. The sauce was then mixed with gluten free flour, vegetable stock, and vegan milk. Finally, which everyone always loves on top, the crispy onions! This was perfected with thinly sliced onions that were soaked in vegan milk, then removed and coated with gluten free flour that was mixed with some sugar. Yum! The office really loved the green bean casserole! Probably the fan favorite, people described it as delicious and no different than any other that they have had. The only complaint from some was that it needs more seasoning, so taste and season to your liking as you go!

A good old southern dish, this vegan cornbread was made with corn, gluten free flour, sugar, vegan milk, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and applesauce to replace eggs. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the milk mixture, eggs and oil until just blended; fold in the corn kernels. Then pop it in the oven on 350 °Fahrenheit for 45 minutes!

A few stated that the cornbread was moist, while others noted that it had great consistency and flavoring. The ruling was that it was a keeper, with some people saying it resembles a standard delicious cornbread. 

This stuffing was made with the same cornbread recipe mentioned above. Take the cornbread, chopped onion, and chopped granny smith apples, and mix. Put it into a pan, sprinkle chopped pecans (yum) on top and bake for 15 min covered with a foil on 350 °Fahrenheit, and then 20 minutes without the foil.  

 Overall, the stuffing was rated 50-50. Some people found it to be tasty, commenting especially on the pecans, and would definitely eat this again. For those that did not care for it, they stated that they did not normally like stuffing in general.

This dish was made as a resemblance to mac and cheese. Butternut squash is mixed with onion and boiled. After it is just right and tender,high-speed blender with cashews, lemon juice, salt, dijon, garlic powder, black pepper, smoked paprika, turmeric, nutmeg. The mixture is then added to cooked gluten free noodles. 

Majority ruled this dish as “very good.” A couple of people could not help but compare it to mac and cheese. Overall, this dish was a winner, with many saying they would definitely eat this again.

  • Squash Carrot Mash

Mash was probably the only dish that got the lowest review. Made with butternut squash, carrots, and vegetable broth, it was steamed then blended to make the consistency of mashed potatoes. 

People complained that they did not care for the spices in it, that they were too strong, or that the texture was off. This was the only side that wasn’t really a hit.  

Dark Chocolate Tart & Coconut Ice Cream:

The best part of any meal is when it is all done, and it is time for dessert! For the finale, there was coconut ice cream over a chocolate tart. As you would expect, this was delicious. The ice cream was a perfect blend of coconut milk, pure cane sugar, and vanilla. The coconut milk, cane sugar, salt, scraped vanilla bean and vanilla extract are blended on  high until completely creamy and smooth for 1-2 minutes to fully dissolve the sugar. Then you churn it and freeze for 4-6 hours.

chocolate tart
The chocolate tart is a 2 step process made with almond flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, maple syrup, salt, and coconut oil.
  • The chocolate tart is a 2 step process. First the crust is made by combining almond flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, maple syrup, salt, and coconut oil. Then you put it in a pan and bake it for 12 minutes on 350 °F. Then comes the yummy filling!! Heat up coconut milk over the stove, then combine it over some dark chocolate and slowly mix. Then add the sugar and vanilla extract. Finally combine the two by pouring the filling into the baked crust and refrigerate for 2 hours. Then enjoy! To balance each other out, it is best to eat the tart with the ice cream.

For some people, it was their absolute favorite dish, with one commenting it tasted like Almond Joy. The chocolate tart was noted to be a bit rich on its own, but the ice cream complimented it perfectly.

If they do not want to go full vegan route, there are recipes you can make to still eat what you like, with few changes. Our Thanksgiving has proven that gluten free and vegan meals have the ability to be delicious and filling! Just because someone has a food allergy or averson doesn’t mean their food has to be boring!

As long as you have an open mind to food, it will be a positive experience. Let your hair down and try new things. Start out small and test the different options. People with gluten and dairy allergies turn to veganism because it is solely plant based. 

Veganism is not as expensive as you think. It can be a great substitute for people who are lactose intolerant, you just have to be willing to cook. People who have a gluten allergy can also have similar experience with substitutions.. The possibilities of dishes you can make are endless, at no extra expense, and just as tasty, if not more. One thing is for sure, as many people in the office have been shown: “don’t knock it until you try it!”

Thinking of A Vegan Diet? Try These Simple Steps

Veganism is slowly taking over the country, and not because it is a “fad.” The countless health benefits it provides have people sharing their stories, and encouraging others to give it a try. Many restaurants are now adding delicious vegan items to their menu. Even meat lovers can enjoy the vegan diet with the Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger, mimicking beef’s signature flavor! It might sound hard to become a vegan, but it does not have to be.

Ignore Negativity

The moment you share that you’re on a vegan diet, you might hear some negative comments from friends or family members. Do not let this deter you. Focus on your goal, and achieve it. You do not have to worry about your household or everyone around you, just start with you.

Woman sitting at a table in front of a laptop with a black cup of tea on her rigt and notebook on left.
Researching is key to figureing out what you can and cannot eat. If you think it might not be vegan, research it first.


Make sure to do plenty of research to find out what you can and cannot have. A vegan diet cuts out all animal products, such as dairy and meat. Pretty much anything that can come from an animal (or fish) is a no-go. For example, butter is made with milk, so you cannot have butter, and common things are made with butter. However, this should not be an issue because there are vegan options to substitute like vegan butter or veganaise. Cauliflower is a delicious alternative for pizza crust and breadsticks, and there are yummy vegan cheeses as well. If you have any doubts, you can always Google if a meal or snack is vegan before you indulge. The more you know, the more success you can have with your diet. 

Planning is Everything.

In order to be successful, planning is everything. The more you focus on organization, the easier it will be to execute! Do not simply think: “Oh, I will just eat salads every day and be okay.” There has to be more thought and planning, because you will eventually get bored with salads and want to give up. Meal prepping is your greatest ally. 

If you have the time to cook and meal prep, there are tons of recipes right at your fingertips via the internet. For busy days, there are plenty of delicious frozen vegan meals you can pop right into the oven or microwave. 

There are a lot of vegan snack options, and if you do not have the time to go buy some stick to the basics like nuts, vegetables with hummus and peanut butter, and fruits. Also, did you know that Oreos are vegan? So, if you are looking for a sweet snack, have an Oreo. It doesn’t just end there, many things you probably eat on a daily basis are

Avocado, asparagus, red tomato, green tomato, and garlic cloves on cutting board.
Meal preparation is helpful in achieving your goal of a vegan diet. It makes the transition easier.

secretly vegan!

Planning extends outside the kitchen too. When you go out to eat with your family or friends, make sure to look up the restaurant’s menu beforehand to make sure you are not limited to eating the complimentary bread.  

Start Slow

If you want to try the vegan diet, you do not have to jump into the deep end. Get your feet wet by going meatless until dinner time. Eat a plant-based breakfast and lunch, such as vegan scrambled eggs made of tofu, fruits, and curried broccoli chickpea salad. You can opt to go vegan one day a week and start there. Or you can choose to go meat-free or dairy-free and progress. Start with whichever makes you comfortable.

It is important to not look at a vegan diet as losing meat and dairy, but rather gaining delicious, healthy alternatives. The moment you think you have “cut out” animal products, you feel defeated and deprived. The simpler your meals, the better they are for you. 

You will open an undiscovered world of foods when you go vegan. The best way to start the diet is by taking simple steps, preparing yourself mentally, and making a solid grocery list. Feel out what works for you, and the hardest part, honestly, will be the psychological and social aspects. Focus on your goals and health, because eating a plant-based diet will fully support your body and mind. They say it takes only 28 days to make something a habit, so give veganism at least 28 days and review what changes.

Recycling Needs to Start Now–Or Else

Happy America Recycles Day! November 15th comes around once a year as a reminder to reduce our waste by reusing what we have. Our

loads of recyclable materials in a landfill
Doesn’t look that pretty. A few extra minutes a day and we can reduce this heap to something more manageable.

waste management habits are only getting worse by the year, and it’s already taking its toll on our planet. Recycling programs are an easy solution, but not many people know the facts behind the industry.

When people think of recycling, images of plastics, drop off centers, or symbols on the bottom of glass bottles come up. While those are helpful thoughts, there’s much more to the process that we need to focus on. To be of better help, we need to understand more of what happens, what’s wrong, and the effects.

What Recycling Is

In essence, it’s breaking down used products (like car batteries or plastic bags) and turning them into raw materials. This is the formal industry, but you can consider composting a home-based part.

Citizens or plant workers collect items like those mentioned either from curbside bins, programs, or drop off centers. Then, they sort the items and clean them at a processing plant. The easiest items are plastic because they only need to be melted and reformed. Others, like metal, are usually in more complex products and require more energy. 

The newly recycled materials are then reused in our manufacturing process. This involves being sold in bulk to factories or made available to the public. Even artists purchase these materials to create. While it seems like a solid process, many factors hinder its efficiency. 

Why It Is Hampered

Many cities have recycling plants in place, but not to the degree that we need them, nor are people taught how to properly recycle. We know that it should be done, but most bins in public are just blue or labeled with an “R.” This results in people throwing anything into them that looks like it should be recycled. However, some areas, even entire cities, don’t have the proper facilities to process certain items, resulting in a huge amount of waste. If we don’t curb it, the whole system will come tumbling down. This means better labeling on our blue bins per locale. 

Also with labeling, the triangular symbols, while useful, aren’t widespread knowledge. Here are some common ones and how to read them:

person recycling a plastic bottle and sorting it properly
Sorting is the biggest issue the industry has. We can’t stress it enough to be careful what you throw into a recycling bin!
  • PET or PETE are found on common plastics. These are on easily disposable items as bins that accept this type are commonplace.
  • HDPE is the opaque type of plastic found in milk jugs, cereal bags, or shampoo bottles.
  • 1-7 (usually inside a triangle of arrows) is signaling which resin type was used for the product. Process these numbered items together: 1’s with 1’s and 7’s with 7’s
  • A Check with a Tree plus FSC means the product contains wood.
  • ALU in a circle means aluminum. 
  • A picture of someone disposing of a bottle means the product is glass and should be recycled in a specific bin for glass. 


These are only a few label types. With so many, it makes the process confusing for the average person. It really bogs down an industry where the individual has to wash, sort, and separate their used materials.  If we established a better sorting process in the actual plants, we could install a more general recycling area, encouraging more people to participate. This can be extended to a neighborhood program, providing community-building experiences and ways to meet new people.

Positive Benefits of Recycling

So, we know what is wrong with the process, but why is it important that we fix it?

plastic bottles on a beach ruining the scene
No one wants to vacation on a trash-covered beach. This will only get worse the more we try to bury our garbage in landfills or throw it in the ocean.

The most obvious reasons are environmental:

  • Protects trees (like the rainforest)
  • Reduces fossil fuel usage
  • Reduces waste
  • Saves landfill space
  • Conserves resources such as water, wood, and oil

But there are also economic impacts like:

  • Generating more job opportunities
  • Creating resources for trade
  • In the U.S., creating revenue up to $200 billion

As we can see, the benefits outweigh the supposed costs of changing the industry. Because, yes, it will cost some to change its infrastructure. However, the benefits come with keeping our home cleaner, preserving our resources, and putting less toxic substances into the ground. On the individual level, there is unfortunately not much we can do except vote for representatives that will affect change. Of course, you can also make greener choices in general like opting for Veganism. We’re making a trade of capital for keeping the planet habitable. We can live without money, but we can’t live without an atmosphere.

Are There Benefits To Going Vegan?

Going full vegan is not as easy as most people think it is, but becoming a partial vegan is achievable. A lot of people consider going vegan because it has a lot of benefits for your health. Not only can a vegan diet help you lose weight, but it will help your heart, kidney, and help with diabetes and even some cancers. It can be hard to go full pledged vegan, especially for someone like me who loves cheese, or for others who love meat. But there are small changes that you can make to become a partial vegan, or just to have a better diet.

You do not have to go all out and cut meat from your diet for the rest of your life if you do not want to. That is not what this article is about, but rather considering one of your meals of the day to be meatless and non-dairy. And if you want the cheese, there are some vegan cheeses you can consider. I know, vegan cheese? Gross! But I assure you, I’ve had it and it is surprisingly delicious! Let’s talk about the health benefits of a vegan diet, and what changes you can make.


Veganism lowers your blood pressure, and the risk of heart disease.
Veganism lowers your blood pressure, and the risk of heart disease, amongst many other benefits.

Vegan diets can help people who are dealing with some serious health issues. Vegan diets are full of a lot of vegetables, which means it is rich in nutrients such as fiber, magnesium, potassium, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and E. The diet improves kidney function from the nutrients listed, lowers your risk of heart disease, and can even protect you from cancers.

Heart disease is lowered from this diet because of the fruits, vegetables, and fiber your body is receiving. It helps lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which in turn helps your heart from having to pump harder than it should. Blood flow increases throughout your body, and the chance of blood clotting lowers. Your risk of colon or rectal cancer can be reduced by almost 18%, and lower your risk of dying from cancer by 15%. Vegan diets consist of soy products, which can help protect a person from breast cancer.

Studies have shown that a vegan diet produces more energy, and we all would like some of that. It may not necessarily just be a full vegan diet that produces the energy, but a healthier diet will. Avoiding sugary treats and processed foods will help your body regulate your glucose levels more, and prevent blood sugar from spiking or crashing. This helps your body produce more energy, and prevent diabetes.

A vegan diet speeds up your metabolism, which aids in weight loss. It even helps with arthritis pain. Certain vegetables and fruits contain nutrients that help reduce inflammation within the body. This happens mainly by getting rid of the bad bacteria in your stomach, and increasing nutrients.

Small Yet Powerful Changes

 You can start a vegan diet by making one of your meals a vegan one.
You can make small changes towards a healthier lifestlye. Start by making one of your meals a vegan one.

Making small changes is easier than trying to just cut off meat and dairy from your diet forever. As stated before, becoming a vegan is not as easy as some may think. However, you can take some steps into a healthier diet. Try cutting out meat and dairy from your diet for one of your meals. Over time, you can increase it to two meals if you want. Some people go vegan one week every month.

Taking these small steps will help your body absorb nutrients better. You will see the change in your body, mind, and overall health when you begin eating one vegan meal a day, a week, or every other month. Your face will glow, your energy will increase, and you will even begin to make more health conscious decisions when cooking or ordering food.

Vegan diets are becoming very popular, especially with all the research to back it up on why it is great and preferable. You do not have to say goodbye to meat forever if you do not want to. However, I do recommend you to consider adding a vegan meal in your day, and see how you feel over time. If you feel better (which I think you will) then great, and if not, then you can stop. Better to try something that will benefit your body greatly, than to just dismiss it.

Insurance Company Offer Discounts to Vegans

Veganism has become a mainstream lifestyle and has been becoming more popular within the last couple of years. There are many health benefits to becoming vegan and now there are financial benefits. An Israel-based health insurance company, Clal Insurance, offers discounts to people who are vegans. The trend has caught on in America with an insurance company offering discounts for life insurance to vegans.

You have to sign a declaration stating you are vegan to receive savings.
The insurance company requres you to sign a declaration of health to qualify for vegan savings.

The Israeli insurance company began a Vegan Pay Less, VPL, initiative for life and health insurance plans for vegans. The discount will be available to member sof vegan associations who provide a signed declaration of health to qualify. The company is hoping that more people will choose to make the diet change to become healthier which will reduce health issues and costs.

Benefits of Vegan Diet

Plant based diets have become popular due to how well it ranks in healthiest diets in the world.. Studies have shown that a vegan diet has been shown to aid in the prevention and treatment of major diseases. These studies from the Public Health Nutrition Journal have shown what the benefits vegans receive. Their hypertension reduced by 63%, type 2 diabetes reduced by almost 50%, cardiovascular issues reduced by 20%, and a 15% lower chance from all types of cancer.

A lot of fruits and vegetables can help your body from high risks of cancer, alzheimer’s, and diabetes because of the antioxidants and phytochemicals provided. The National Cancer Institute believes that antioxidants can prevent certain forms of cancer because these antioxidants prevent cell damage.

A person is less likely to become obese or have a high BMI if they are on a vegan diet. A meatless diet will help you to have less body fat. This in turn will keep you from having high blood pressure and cholesterol issues.

A meatless diet has many benefits for your health.
A meatless diet has many benefits from maintaing your BMI, to lowering your chances of cancers and high blood pressure.

People who eat fish are exposed to mercury in their diet and high levels of it can damage your kidneys and lungs. A large intake can impact your cognitive skills because it is damaging to the nervous system.

An insurance company in America has joined the bandwagon of giving discounts to Americans who practice a healthier lifestyle by going vegan. Health IQ made the shift in order to help people save money. They base premiums on a person’s lifestyle rather than family history. The likelihood that other insurance companies will join the vegan discounted rates are high because vegans are healthier than non vegans.

Insurers want healthier customers so they do not have to pay a lot to insure them, in other words, the healthier a customer then the more the insurance company saves. Insurance companies do not want to take on sick customers. This will not only benefit the insurance companies, but also the customers. Bottom line is the more greens you eat, the more green you save in your pockets.