Your Guide To A Sustainable Thanksgiving—From Food To Decor

October 28, 2022

If you plan on celebrating Thanksgiving, it can be tough to even visualize a sustainable holiday. Visions of turkeys in the middle of the table, mass-produced ingredients, and plastic tablecloths tend to come to mind. It doesn’t have to be that way though, and if you are celebrating, there is no reason to give up your sustainable lifestyle for its sake. There are so many ways to have a sustainable gathering, so here is your guide to a sustainable Thanksgiving:

The Sustainable Thanksgiving Feast

Let’s be real: everyone’s favorite part of Thanksgiving is the food. While the traditional dishes tend to be animals or their byproducts, you can have just as festive a meal without those. Here are some dish ideas—from the traditional to the fresh twists.

sweet potatoes

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

For those who want a traditional dish, it’s super easy to veganize mashed potatoes! Use local potatoes and garlic, vegan butter, unsweetened oat milk, and organic herbs (thyme, oregano, and parsley are ideal for this). Whip all of it up, and top with more fresh herbs. It’s savory, filling, and so flavorful!

Roasted sweet potatoes with vegan yogurt, pomegranate seeds, and mint

This fresh taste on a regularly appearing dish is bright and nourishing. Roast chunks of sweet potatoes with olive oil, cumin, cinnamon, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and a little chili powder. Roast until browned, and drizzle with yogurt (mix unsweetened coconut yogurt, lemon juice, smoked paprika, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and minced mint). Add caramelized red onions, roasted garlic cloves, fresh mint, and pomegranate seeds.

 Vegan Green Bean Casserole

A tried and true classic, there are so many ways to veganize this dish. Make it how you normally would, but use plant-based cream and unsweetened soy or oat milk instead for the creaminess! Use organic green beans and local mushrooms, and it’s a deliciously eco-friendly dish.

Roasted Cauli Steaks

This is a filling main course, and it’s in-season! Roasted in olive oil, salt, and garlic powder until crispy and golden. Add balsamic glaze, cranberry drizzle, walnuts, and fresh parsley and it’s perfection! You can sub cranberry sauce for the drizzle, if you just want to use something that will most likely already be on the table.

Plant-based Sausage Rolls

This classic cold-weather dish can easily be made vegan, and is ideal for parties. Use your favorite vegan puff pastry, and sub the meat for minced mushrooms and/or soy grounds. They’re the ultimate cozy dish!

How to Sustainably Decorate

There are so many options when it comes to sustainable decorations. Atmosphere is key for any gathering, and these decoration ideas will help you cultivate feelings of warmth and gratitude at your thanksgiving party.

wallhanging with lavender

Dried Flowers

Take dried flowers and put them in thrifted vases around the gathering space. It will look very autumnal, and make beautiful party favors for once guests are leaving! You can also try crushing them, and filling up bottles with them. They make great centerpieces. Finally, you can also try hanging them upside down with twine, for great wall decor.


Paint them with eco-friendly glitter for beautiful centerpieces, or tie them to twine and attach the twine to foraged sticks. These are beautiful wall-hangings.

Cloth Streamers

A great alternative for conventional streamers is to take scrap fabric and cut it into strips. Go for warm colors, and it’s a cottagecore-esque decoration fit for any thanksgiving party.

Stick Stars

Take sticks and twigs, along with some twine, and arrange them into stars. Hang them from the ceiling or along the walls, and it makes for a magical atmosphere.

Paper Link Chains

Rip out the pages of thrifted books, and cut them into strips. You can use them to make chains, and hang them from the ceiling. Add eco-friendly glitter, and it’s a gorgeous decoration.

Dried Citrus

You can use pieces of twine to be able to hang them around the house. Try stringing them onto sticks, and make them into large hangings. They’re festive, and a great way to use food waste.

Sustainable Party Favors

Everybody loves a good party favor, and it doesn’t have to mean handing out plastic bags filled with cheaply-made goodies. Consider these more beautiful and definitely more sustainable options.


Dried Flowers

Take those decorate flowers and hand them out. Who doesn’t love flowers?

Homemade Bread and Jam

Make a few baguettes and split them into sections. Wrap them in vegan wax paper, tie with repurposed ribbon, and give a mini jar of homemade jam along with it. You can also use locally made bread and jam, if you aren’t into baking.

Local Vegan Wine

This can get pricey, but if you have the budget, this is a beautiful option that honors the land.

Local Apples

Apples are in season, and they can make a great party favor that’s also sustainable. Put them in little baskets, and it’s a lovely nod to autumn.

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Photo: Emily Iris Degn

Emily Iris Degn
Emily Iris Degn is an environmental travel writer, editor, passionate eco-journalist, professional artist, and published eco-poet. She is from the San Juan Islands, but currently lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her incredible partner and beloved sea shell collection. You can find her in many spaces on Instagram: @emilyirisdegn @happyvegansfeed @emfallstoearth @emilydegnart OR at


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