A Vegan At Thanksgiving
This year is my first Thanksgiving that I will be a full-fledged vegan sitting at our family dinner table. I’m scared.
I’m worried that my family will look at me like I am Lady Gaga in her bloody VMA costume. I am worried that I will dissect and interrogate everyone about every morsel of food offered to me to ensure there is no meat or dairy in it. I’m afraid there will be nothing for me to eat other than the pie I brought and a side of Pumpkin Spice Roasted Chickpeas. Most of all, though, I am worried that I won’t be able to control my gag reflex when I smell cooking flesh and a big steaming turkey carcass is placed inches from my face.
My choice to become vegan started primarily out of ethics. I saw Food, Inc. I read Skinny Bitch. And I could not knowingly consume meat or dairy without having those images and words burning in my mind. Quickly though, meat and dairy just completely became unappealing. That flame-broiled smell upon passing a Burger King now has me dry heaving behind the steering wheel.
I know that I am in the minority of Americans who choose not to eat meat or dairy, especially on a day which seems to be all about the food. I have nothing personally against those who chose to eat meat, I only have a problem with those that are closed minded to my lifestyle.
Here, though, is my challenge to each of you, regardless of if you choose to eat meat or not: why not make our holidays and family gatherings about something other than food? I honestly believe that part of the reason why we have such an obesity epidemic in this country is because almost all of our beloved traditions and rituals revolve around food. But strip those occasions of those food rituals and you begin to realize: it’s just food.
We put the hot dog at the ball park, the popcorn at the movies, the ice cream reward for getting straight A’s and, yes, the Thanksgiving turkey on a great big all-you-can-eat pedestal, when really food is not what these occasions should be all about. The baseball game should be about bonding with your man over a game he loves, the movie should be about escaping into a world of fantasy for a few hours (away from your busy life), celebrating your child’s grade should be about expressing your love and pride, and Thanksgiving should be about being thankful for all you have and sharing that with family and friends.
So go ahead, fill your plate with whatever you choose. I’ll be focusing on filling my mind with memories of my time with my family, of enjoying conversations with friends I haven’t seen in awhile, of giving thanks for the blessings in my life and, of course, savoring a delicious slice of vegan pumpkin pie.