The 4 best vegan turkeys for a plant-based Thanksgiving (2024)

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Written by Sarah Garone; edited by Rick Stella

The 4 best vegan turkeys for a plant-based Thanksgiving (1)

  • Field Roast Celebration Roast
  • Gardein Plant-based Turk'y Roast
  • Trader Joe's Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast
  • How to pick a vegan turkey roast
  • FAQs

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  • A vegan turkey roast offers savory flavor and hearty texture without the meat.
  • A quality vegetarian turkey has up to 26 grams of protein per serving — about as much as real turkey.
  • I'm a nutritionist, and here are 4 of the best vegan turkey substitutes that also taste good.

The 4 best vegan turkeys for a plant-based Thanksgiving (2)

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Correction: November 17, 2022 — An earlier version of this story listed the Quorn Meatless Roast as a viable vegan option. However, that product uses milk and eggs which is not vegan. It has been removed for accuracy.

More people are going plant-based but at the same time, many Americans can't imagine Thanksgiving without a turkey. And while you may think your only option for a meatless bird is a Tofurky, there are plenty of offerings for a vegan turkey roast.

I've been plant-curious for some time and while I'm not a complete vegetarian (I love some good, juicy poultry), for my personal health and the health of the planet, I try to eat a semi-plant-based diet. As a nutritionist, I know the value of loading up on plants and scaling back on meat. Plus, my brother, who often visits for Thanksgiving, is a strict vegetarian, so I have several years of experience with a vegan Thanksgiving dinner.

With Turkey Day approaching, I wanted to narrow down a definitive list of the best plant-based faux turkey roasts for a veg-friendly feast. The following are the best I've tasted, judged based on taste, texture, appearance, and nutritional value. I've also included a list of additional vegan Thanksgiving recipe ideas, plus answers to some vegan turkey FAQs.

Here are the best vegan turkey substitutes:


Field Roast Celebration Roast

The 4 best vegan turkeys for a plant-based Thanksgiving (5)

For vegan Thanksgiving dinner in my house (when my brother visits, anyway), Field Roast's Celebration Roast has reigned supreme as the best-tasting vegan turkey. Even the non-vegetarians in the house will nibble on this one.

Its sage-and-garlic flavor is a savory delight and is incorporated throughout the entire roast, rather than isolated in a central filling. As for texture, its chewy thickness has a hearty, pleasing mouthfeel. And even though its appearance is less like turkey and more like a little brown torpedo, a rippling effect on its exterior is reminiscent of baked ham, creating the impression of meat.

The Celebration Roast is made of seitan, a vegan protein made of wheat gluten —sorry, GF folks, this one's about as far from gluten-free as you can get. And although each slice contains 18 grams of carbohydrates, the Celebration Roast isn't just a glutenous carb-fest as one serving also provides 22 grams of protein.

Just keep in mind that an official serving is quite small — one-eighth of the roast. Meanwhile, its high sodium content and long ingredient list are a reminder that, like all plant-based meats, the Celebration Roast is a highly processed food.


365 Meatless Plant-Based Roasts with Gravy & Portobello Mushroom Stuffing

The 4 best vegan turkeys for a plant-based Thanksgiving (6)

If you're having a small Thanksgiving dinner, Whole Foods' 365 Plant-Based Roasts with Gravy and Portobello Mushroom Stuffing is perfect at just 4-inches long. These mini turkey-like roasts are the smallest on the plant-based block, making them perfect if just one person is having a vegan Thanksgiving or for solo dining.

The 365 roasts are made from a mixture of seitan and soy protein, so they're less like real turkey and more like a super-hearty stuffing. The stuffing-like sensation is enhanced by their yummy mushroom and herb filling.

I especially enjoyed this softer, less chewy interior, which contrasts beautifully with a crunchy breaded exterior. These petite roasts have the additional advantage of not needing to thaw before cooking and take under an hour to bake.

Though 365's roasts won't pass for turkey by their looks or texture, their protein content is near par with poultry. A 290-calorie roast (plus gravy) packs 23 grams of protein — almost as much as a 3-ounce serving of turkey breast's 26 grams. Of course, unlike turkey, the wheat gluten from seitan bumps up the carb count quite a bit (to 27 grams), and sodium is quite high here, at 40% of the recommended daily value.


Gardein Plant-based Turk'y Roast

The 4 best vegan turkeys for a plant-based Thanksgiving (7)

Another seitan-soy combo, the Gardein holiday roast is a force to be reckoned with. This hefty meatless main dish clocks in at over 2 pounds and takes two and a half hours to cook. (Though, thankfully, it doesn't require thawing.)

Likely because of its long cooking time, its exterior crust was a bit crunchier and harder to cut through than other, similar roasts when it emerged from the oven. But once I got to its insides, I was pleased to see how much of the roast was filled with an appealing mixture of rice, cranberries, and kale. The sweetness of the cranberries was a welcome addition to the roast's mostly savory vibe — no need to add cranberry sauce on the side. The "turk'y" also imparted a meat-like flavor and even had visible white striations à la turkey breast meat.

The nutritional value of the Gardein holiday roastreflects its larger size, too. With its included gravy pack, one serving (one-fifth of the roast) provides 260 calories, 24 grams of carbs, and 19 grams of protein. As with other plant-based meats, one nutrient to watch out for here is sodium. One serving contains 770 milligrams or 33% of the recommended daily value.


Trader Joe's Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast

The 4 best vegan turkeys for a plant-based Thanksgiving (8)

If you're fortunate enough to have a Trader Joe's in your vicinity, don't pass up its Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast. It's a large, visually-impressive roast that'll fill out a holiday platter nicely.

A substantial main dish, it features a seitan base rolled around a stuffing of rice, veggies, and cranberries, then coated with crunchy bread crumbs. For those who enjoy less filling and more "meat," it's an ideal choice. While the cranberry flavor didn't come through as strongly here as it did in the Gardein roast's filling, I enjoyed the more savory-forward flavor just as well.

TJ's vegan turkey is the highest-calorie of the roasts on this list, with 300 cals per serving (one-sixth of the roast), but it's also the highest in protein at 26 grams per slice and, surprisingly, contains less sodium than several alternatives. You'll take in 26% of the daily value of sodium from one serving.


How to pick a vegan turkey roast

Here's what to keep in mind:

  • Ingredients: A long ingredient list can be a sign of a more highly-processed food, so it's smart to opt for a product with a short list of recognizable ingredients. Also, keep in mind any allergens common in vegan products, namely gluten or soy.
  • Size: Some people need a smaller vegan turkey size, for which 365's personal-sized mini-roasts are ideal, while others having a large gathering will want a roast more substantial like the ones from Trader Joe's or Gardein.
  • Taste: I only included roasts whose flavor I personally enjoyed for this list; as a nutritionist and food blogger, I'd like to think I have good taste. Keep in mind that not every plant-based eater wants to feel like they're eating meat, and I included options for both sides.
  • Nutrition: There's no getting around the fact that all plant-based vegan turkey roasts are processed foods, so their sodium content is often quite high and their ingredient lists are fairly long. That said, there is nutrition variation between brands, like higher protein or lower carbs.
  • Serving size: It's important to remember that nutrient values for each roast are based on their designated serving sizes — and these vary a lot. A serving of Field Roast's Celebration Roast is set at just 100 grams (one-eighth of the roast) but 365's roasts come in at 227 grams per serving. For tallying up calories and macros, all roasts are not a one-to-one comparison.
  • Price: The roasts I sampled ranged from about $7 to roughly $15. Compared to a 20-pound turkey, they won't break the bank but you may find your budget can accommodate some roasts better than others.



What is the vegan substitute for turkey?

Vegan eaters are used to getting creative with their dining. So, although meatless turkey roasts are a great choice as a holiday centerpiece, many meatless eaters might not feel the need to replace turkey with an exact substitute. Instead, tofu steaks, a grilled portobello mushroom, or a lentil dal might please a vegan palate even more on Thanksgiving.

What is vegan turkey made of?

Almost any vegetarian protein can stand in for turkey. Soy, vital wheat gluten (aka seitan), or a combination of the two is most common. The choice of the best vegan turkey depends on your preferences for taste, texture, price, and nutrition.

What do vegans eat on Thanksgiving?

Ask a group of vegans what they eat at Thanksgiving and you'll get an array of diverse answers. In addition to a source of vegetarian protein, vegans can enjoy mashed potatoes made with olive oil instead of butter, cranberry sauce sweetened with maple syrup, all sorts of vegetable dishes, and stuffing made outside the bird. Even pumpkin pie can be made vegan by subbing plant-based ingredients for the usual eggs and dairy products.

With a few tweaks, it's easier than you might think to create a totally vegan Thanksgiving dinner. Simple ingredient swaps can eliminate animal products from traditional dishes, while cooking methods (like baking stuffing outside the turkey) can be adjusted as well.

Here are a few other ideas for creating a plant-based holiday meal, from appetizers to dessert:

  • Baked stuffing with whole wheat bread, apples, and leeks
  • Mushroom-based gravy
  • Roasted sweet potatoes with cashew cream
  • Green beans pan-sautéed in olive oil
  • Mashed potatoes with vegan butter
  • Maple-sweetened cranberry sauce
  • Pumpkin mousse with coconut milk

The 4 best vegan turkeys for a plant-based Thanksgiving (9)

Sarah Garone

Freelance Writer

Sarah Garone is a Registered Nutrition and Dietetic Technician (NDTR), food blogger, and freelance writer focusing on health and wellness, food, parenting, and Catholic spirituality. She lives with her husband and three children in Mesa, AZ. Sarah's work appears regularly on Healthline, Greatist, Verywell, and other publications. Find her sharing nutrition tips and (mostly!) healthy recipes at A Love Letter to Food, or on Twitter at @LoveLetter2Food.


The 4 best vegan turkeys for a plant-based Thanksgiving (2024)
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