Meat-free eats for Asheville Thanks-living celebrations

FOR THE BIRDS: A portion of sales from No Evil Foods' vegan holiday roast, The Pardon, helps fund the care of the rescued turkeys at Full Circle Farm Sanctuary. Many local restaurants and grocers are offering meat-free meals and events for Thanksgiving. Photo by Sadrah Schadel

While lots of folks will be sitting down to an old-school, turkeycentric feast this Thanksgiving, an increasing number of Ashevilleans are opting for meat-free fare. As the local food scene evolves to include more plant-based options, choices are expanding for those looking to skip the stuffed bird this holiday season and eat plants instead.

Downtown’s Rosetta’s Kitchen is closed on Thanksgiving Day but will offer a special holiday plate on Wednesday, Nov. 21, and Friday, Nov. 23. The $13.50 dish includes chickpea drumsticks, sautéed kale, smashed potatoes with Granny’s Vegan Gravy, savory candy roaster pumpkin mash and iron-skillet cornbread.

Asheville-based plant meat purveyor No Evil Foods is selling a limited number of its popular Thanksgiving roast, The Pardon. It’s available locally at the French Broad Food Co-op, The Artisan in Black Mountain, Food Matters in Morganton, Mill Spring Farm Store in Mill Spring, Swamp Rabbit Cafe in Greenville, S.C., and Boone Street Market in Jonesboro, Tenn.

“Demand for The Pardon has continued to increase each year, and although we continue to up the number we create every year, we also continue to sell them out every year,” says No Evil Foods co-founder Sadrah Schadel. “Part of that is due to the quality and texture of The Pardon, but we also donate $1 from every Pardon sold to support rescued farm animals, which really ties the product to the spirit of Thanksgiving.”

Both Asheville Whole Foods Market locations are offering plant-based Thanksgiving meals for takeout, including a vegan meal for two created by celebrity chef and author Jeremy Fox. The spread is $39.99 and includes a romanesco cauliflower roast with miso bagna càuda, charred escarole with tomatoes and chickpeas, cremini mushroom stuffing with kimchi, roasted acorn squash with maple and hazelnut dukkah and a sweet-potato blondie with cashew frosting and spiced cashews. Orders need to be placed 48 hours before pickup, and the stores are open until 3 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.

At Asheville’s two Earth Fare locations, there’s a full vegan holiday feast available for preorder. For $14.99 per serving, foodies can dig into a pound of Field Roast hazelnut cranberry roast en croute, half a pound each of savory smashed sweet potatoes and sweet potato quinoa and kale plus vegan mushroom gravy and fresh cranberry sauce.

There are also 6-inch vegan pumpkin pies for $6.99. Other vegan side options include roasted brussels sprouts with garlic and roasted butternut squash with maple and sage.

At The BLOCK Off Biltmore near Pack Square, the community is invited on Thanksgiving Day for a ThanksGivingBack potluck celebration benefiting Flat Rock’s Sweet Bear Rescue Farm animal sanctuary. Admission is a $1o donation to Sweet Bear. Starting at 5 p.m., attendees can mix and mingle and share gratitude lists until the meal kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Guests are asked to bring a vegan dish that serves six to eight people plus their own reusable utensils and plates. The bar will be open selling adult beverages as well as plenty of nonalcoholic options. At 8 p.m., Gleep Glop and the Flooptidos will take the stage for music and dancing.

In Arden, Bean Vegan Cuisine will offer a lineup of Thanksgiving eats for preorder. Options include house-made vegan cheese blocks — flavors include brie with truffle, smoked gouda or pepper jack flavors — at $8 each; a holiday loaf for $25, green bean casserole for $12, holiday dressing with cranberries, raisins and pecans for $12 plus collard greens for $12, pimento cheese dip for $12, pumpkin, pecan or derby pie for $25; or a pumpkin chocolate chip cheesecake for $45, among other items. Orders need to be placed by 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, for pickup on Wednesday, Nov. 21, before 8 p.m.

And, of course, all the local grocers stock a wealth of plant-based options for DIY feasts these days, from prepared sides to Gardein and Tofurky roasts to vegan ice cream and baked goods.

According to Paul McLean, director of fresh at Earth Fare, the wide availability of meat-free holiday food options is due to customer demand. “Over the years, more and more of our shoppers have shared with us that they are switching to a vegan or plant-based diet but feel nostalgic for the traditional holiday flavors they’re used to enjoying,” he explains. “We also look across the grocery industry as a whole to see what’s trending. Plant-based diets are increasingly popular year-round, so we want to be sure to provide those items to our shoppers in every category of the store.”



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