Jason Miller grew up in a small mountain town on the Western Slope of Colorado and in an agricultural community in Montana. He often hunted with his father, a taxidermist. They ate venison nearly …
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Vegan: a plant-based diet that excludes all animal-derived ingredients, such as meat, eggs and dairy products.
Vegetarian: a meat-free diet that excludes any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish, or by-products of animal slaughter.
Pescatarian: a diet that excludes meat or poultry but allows the consumption of fish.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Ingredients: 1/4 cup canola oil, 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup vegetable broth, 3 tablespoons tamari sauce, 2 cups soy milk, 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, ground black pepper to taste.
Directions: Heat the canola oil in a skillet over medium heat. Whisk flour, vegetable broth and tamari into the hot oil. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes, until there are no lumps and the mixture becomes paste-like. Pour the soy milk into the skillet. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add yeast and black pepper, stir.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Ingredients: 2 pounds russet potatoes, 8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed, 1 sprig fresh rosemary, 1 sprig fresh thyme, 1/4 cup olive oil, a pinch of salt and ground black pepper to taste.
Directions: Place potatoes, garlic, rosemary, and thyme in a large pot, cover with salted water and bring to a boil. Cook covered for about 30 minutes, until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife. Drain, but keep 1 cup of cooking water. Transfer the potatoes and garlic to a bowl, and dispose rosemary and thyme. Add olive oil, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher and add cooking water to reach desired consistency.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 1/2 hours
Ingredients: 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar, 3/4 cup of white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional).
Directions: Preheat oven to 210 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment paper. Drain chickpeas and save 1/2 cup of liquid from the can. Pour chickpea liquid into a bowl and add the cream of tartar. Beat mixture using an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, as you continually beat until glossy peaks form, about 20 minutes; beat in vanilla extract until well incorporated. Spoon mixture into a piping bag and pipe into small circles, about 1 inch in diameter, onto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for about 90 minutes, until the meringues are firm and come away easily from the parchment paper. Remove from the oven and allow at least 15 minutes to cool.
Jason Miller grew up in a small mountain town on the Western Slope of Colorado and in an agricultural community in Montana. He often hunted with his father, a taxidermist. They ate venison nearly every day.
When he was 19, Miller started to question his lifestyle.
“Most of that meat I saw killed and even participated in the hunt,” Miller, now a Littleton resident, said. “At a certain point, it started to add up on me.”
That year, Miller, now 47, became a vegetarian. A year later, for the welfare of all animals, he switched to a vegan diet. The diet is referred to by many health organizations as the strictest form of vegetarianism. Vegans abstain from all animal-based products — meat, eggs and dairy. Some reject wool and leather products.
Around the corner is the holiday season. The time of year typically involves celebrating with friends and family, indulging in rich roasts and decadent, dairy-filled deserts — items that are not on a vegan’s list of things to eat.
But with the right amount of planning and communication, vegans like Miller make it work.
For people on a vegan diet, planning ahead is key, said Cynthia Dormer, a registered dietitian and assistant professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
“Plan ahead what your meal is going to be,” Dormer said. “Find things that you really enjoy and that are special to you so that you can enjoy the holiday.”
That’s easy for Miller, who buys meat and dairy substitutes at the local grocery store. His favorite during the holiday season is a tofu “tofurkey” breast with stuffing inside. For dessert, his freezer is stocked with vegan ice cream, which is typically made with a coconut or almond milk substitute.
“There are so many options now,” Miller said. “There’s always some central dish that you can have.”
Vegans looking to dine out have options.
On Thanksgiving Day from noon to 7 p.m., Native Foods Café, 680 S. Colorado Blvd., Denver, will offer a buffet special with all-vegan options. Menu items are a plant-based roast, shepherd’s pie, apple-cider braised Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and gravy, among other holiday favorites. Adults pay $29.99, kids 12 and under cost $14.99 and children under 2 are free.
Whole Foods offers a catering menu with vegan-only items and recipes. The main dish is a Thanksgiving Risotto with cranberries, pumpkin, greens and fresh seasonal herbs. Sides include coconut-roasted sweet potatoes and creamy broccoli-cauliflower soap, among others. Whole Foods has locations across the Denver metro area.
While delicious meals add to the magic of the holiday season, the real joy is in the time spent with family and friends. Dormer encourages people to communicate early and not let diets or restrictions ruin a celebration.
“Vegan people can sometimes have a self-righteous attitude, and certainly they are right in the sense that their approach is more environment- and animal-friendly,” Dormer said. “But if the people around them feel judged for eating their favorite food, that can cause some conflict.”
In Miller’s experience, many people view eating vegan as too challenging and expensive.
“It’s a matter of finding the right replacements and I can guarantee all of those things are out there,” Miller said. “It’s so doable.”
Scott Spears hopes to make it easier for meat eaters and vegans to dine together in the future.
He is behind Arvada’s first vegan, plant-based eatery that will also have protein add-ons on the menu. His restaurant, All Raddish, is expected to open in early 2019 across the street from School House Kitchen and Libations, 5660 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., which he also owns.
“It’s really hard to go out and eat,” Spears, a vegetarian, said of eating vegan.
“Strictly vegan restaurants do a great job, but there aren’t a lot of them.”
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