Three years ago, on Thanksgiving, I ate my last bite of meat. I had spent the three days prior selecting, brining, rubbing and stuffing the most expensive turkey I could buy at Whole Foods. Then I lugged the turkey from Denver to Breckenridge and cooked it at high altitude. Throughout this experience, I became close to the dead bird. I felt bad for it, wondered what it looked like, questioned its age and gender. It was the closest I had ever been to my food source and it was painful.
So fast-forward to this upcoming Thanksgiving. My sister-in-law and her family are visiting and I’m already stressed about ways to replace the turkey. I’ve spent three years of meals without meat and I’m still anxious about not having a turkey for our centerpiece. I’m surprised how ingrained the Thanksgiving turkey is for me and if it is that way for me, then how must it be for all other non-vegetarian Americans. All of this focus on turkey makes me want to protest Thanksgiving!
Forty million turkeys being killed so we can feel complete on Thanksgiving, food banks requesting turkeys, turkey hotlines for cooking questions, supermarket freezers and refrigerators full of dead turkeys. Is it all necessary for just one meal? But I know I’m not really going to protest Thanksgiving…so how am I going to handle Thanksgiving?
Step 1 – I’m lowering my own expectations. It’s just going to be a family dinner around our fancier table. Step 2 – I’m not going to participate in any pre-game Thanksgiving events. No crafts, parties or special ingredient hunting trips.
Step 3 – I’m going to keep the menu simple. Stuffing, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, corn casserole, cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts. These are recipes that I’ve made before, are easily made vegan and I can whip together quickly.
Step 4 – I’m going to make what I like. Not what I think everyone else wants or expects.
Step 5 – I’m making extra for leftovers. I love a warm quick meal so leftovers make the work of cooking extend over a few meals.
Step 6 – I’m going to sponsor a turkey and then talk about it. Rather than just not eating turkey I’m taking it one step further and saving a turkey. Animalplace.org has a sponsorship program for their saved turkeys that I will support.
Step 7 – I’m going to be thankful. Thankful for the compassion my family and I have for all animals, thankful I stopped eating meat and thankful there are other people who agree to be vegetarians and vegans.
Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/arrtx1