Thanksgiving is just around the corner—and I have mixed emotions about it. I love this truly American tradition of family, the celebration of the seasons changing, and getting all warm and cozy while sharing our love and gratitude (and eating some seriously yummy food). But why do we have to do all that with a big, dead animal in the middle of the table?! For me, that’s a total love-and-gratitude buzz kill.
Back in the day, all those pilgrims were giving it up for the incredible abundance from the earth that nourished them back to health. Sure, that included the whole dead-bird thing. It also included other inexcusable behaviors like the pillaging of Native lands and the slaughter of Indigenous peoples.
Today, of course, we’re living in different times. We aren’t just killing a bird once a year for necessity and nourishment; we’re killing 660,000 animals an hour in this country alone, every single day. Let’s be honest, we’re not those starving pilgrims any more.
I say we still channel some of that Mayflower love of discovery—those pilgrims were seeking new ways, after all. What if we do this celebration in a more pure, responsible way?
The best way to give our most heartfelt acknowledgments to Mother Earth is by being good to her! It takes 3 times as much fossil fuel (the primary cause of emissions) to produce a meat-centered diet than a meat-free one, and more than half of the water we use in the United States goes towards livestock production. Is that really how you want to show your appreciation? And is taking one life to say thanks for another really doing your Golden Rule best? I say we give back, instead of just taking.
So what’s the solution? I say a big, true, compassionate, and beautiful Thanksgiving. I want Bear to grow up in a loving environment that’s conscious of and kind to all. That’s why we try to host a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at our house a few weeks before the actual day. Because most of our friends will be with their families on the actual holiday, this way we can gather as much of our tribe as possible—sometimes as many as 28 people! My goal is always to serve the most delicious, decadent dishes that have everyone—including meat-eaters—wondering why they even bother with the foods that don’t serve their bodies well (I’m looking at you, meat and dairy!) and leave them feeling sluggish, bloated, and gross after their usual feast. The best is when people say they would eat this way all the time if they could eat like what they just ate. And I say you can!
It can definitely be a tricky time for a veggie around Thanksgiving, especially if you’re going home to see your non-veggie family. My tip is to call ahead and say, “Hi there, I’m not sure if you know, but I’m trying really hard to be vegan and would love to know if I can help prepare the side dishes so that they are okay for me to eat. I promise you will love them and won’t even know the difference.” Alternatively, you could bring a dish you know you’ll be able to eat, with enough to share with others. Or you could invite everyone to your place and make a great meal. Sure, the turkey won’t make an appearance, but no one will care once they’ve tasted your other amazing dishes.
For more Thanksgiving thoughts and recipes reference: