Who cares about turkey? Thanksgiving main dishes for smaller groups and (sacrilegious) non-turkey lovers

If you're open to Thanksgiving without a giant bird on the table, there are alternatives that can start new traditions that still feel festive.

(CNN)You might not want a whole roast turkey on your table for a gaggle of reasons this Thanksgiving.

A turkey breast is the most obvious option for those who enjoy the traditional feast but don't necessarily need 10 pounds of meat for two or four people at the table. However, if the idea of not eating turkey doesn't ruffle your feathers, let yourself off the hook. You just don't have to serve it!
As a food professional who personally couldn't care less about the bird, I have spent the past few years serving anything but an entire turkey at my Thanksgiving dinners.
And even though it's better for both our health and the planet's health to eat less meat, you don't necessarily have to turn to Tofurky or resort to rotisserie chicken as a replacement. Here are some centerpiece meal ideas for cooks who are looking to mix up their Thanksgiving traditions and still keep it festive.

    Pot pies

    Who can say no to a pot pie? This version is chicken, but you can make yours vegetarian if you'd like.
    As a compromise for those who like the idea of turkey and gravy but not the process of roasting a whole bird, pot pie serves up the traditional combination in a different package.
    It's a highly adaptable dish that can serve a crowd or just a few people — and don't feel as if you need to stick to turkey or even chicken. A vegetarian pot pie, stuffed with vegetables like potatoes, green beans, squash, corn and peppers, can be just as thrilling and filling.
    Try your skills at homemade pie crust or grab a package of refrigerated crusts to make it easy on yourself. For a small group, you can make it even more whimsical with pot pie pop tarts.

    Stuffed squash

    Stuffed squashes with quinoa, kale, cranberries, and chickpeas are a colorful addition to the holiday table.
    Stuffed peppers are for weeknight dinners — stuffed squashes are showstoppers for Thanksgiving! Smaller squash varieties make for a gorgeous individual presentation that would eclipse a turkey even if it were on the table.
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