To the editor:

As friends and family gather to share a hearty Thanksgiving feast, millions of Americans will be sitting down to a completely meatless meal. As a dietitian, I applaud the growing number of Americans who forgo high-fat holiday fare and indulge instead in a cornucopia of healthful and delicious vegetarian foods.

The abundance of fatty foods at most Thanksgiving tables means ’tis the season for weight gain. Being overweight or obese can contribute to heart disease, type two diabetes and some forms of cancer. A new study in the British Journal of Cancer found that obese women are 70 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, compared with women with little excess weight.

But here’s something to be thankful for: Meatless holiday meals of lentils, winter squash, nuts and perhaps a soy- or wheat-based “turkey” can help Americans stay trim and prevent disease.

Krista Haynes, R.D. is with the The Cancer Project in Washington, D.C.