Vegetarian and meat alternatives to turkey for your Thanksgiving meal

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For many, Thanksgiving preparation is well underway. Hosts have been designated, side dishes delegated, and ingredient lists written up. This year, though, a wrench has been thrown into Turkey Day-coordinating for even the most proactive planners.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 3 percent of the nation’s turkey supply has already been wiped out by a rapidly spreading strain of avian influenza. What this means for consumers is fewer turkeys on grocery store shelves and higher prices in a year that has already seen soaring grocery costs due to inflation and continued supply chain challenges.

Ordering ahead is one solution to avoid last-minute shortages, and if you’re committed to that bird, we suggest you preorder it, pronto. But there’s another option: forgoing the turkey altogether.

This may sound drastic to some — after all, isn’t turkey the iconic main course? But beyond even a devastating bird flu outbreak, there are plenty of reasons other dishes are worthy of centerpiece status. To the uninitiated, turkey’s size alone, coupled with the time and effort it takes to cook, can be intimidating, especially if it results in meat that’s dry and bland. For those of us without big families or large groups of people to celebrate with, it doesn’t always make sense to cook such a big bird. And, of course, vegetarian and vegan diners always appreciate an alternative to turkey, and there are plenty out there that make stunning stars of the show.

So whether you’re trying to keep your celebrations more cost-effective or are looking for plant-based mains that are just as festive and filling as their winged counterparts, we have a plethora of ideas from our Recipe Finder that will help you pull off your best Thanksgiving yet, sans turkey.

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