Well, I did it. I survived my first family Thanksgiving as a vegan. Sometimes it was annoying. There were lots of head-smacking moments. But, overall, I found the experience to be rewarding.
Just for fun, I wanted to share the ridiculous moments with you. I think I'm going to keep an ongoing record of these. Some of them are just too good to be true.
1. (A few days before Thanksgiving)
Grandma: "I have no idea how to cook vegan!"
Neither do I. I've been using this thing called the world wide web to help.
2. Grandpa: "Why did you go vegan? I don't understand."
Me: "I decided I didn't want to exploit animals anymore."
Grandpa: *shakes head and laughs* "People gotta eat, Faith."
That's funny. I haven't stopped eating.
3. Grandma: *stressed out*
Me: "Grandma, let me make the stuffing. All I have to do is change one ingredient."
Grandma: *snaps* "I just want to do it my traditional way, okay? You can have yours separate!"
4. Me: "Grandpa! Do you want to try some cookie dough?"
Grandpa: "You're not supposed to eat raw cookie dough."
Me: "There's no eggs in it."
Grandpa: "What's wrong with eggs?"
Me: "Grandpa, eggs are the reason why you aren't supposed to eat raw cookie dough."
5. A friend over email: "Enjoy Thanksgiving! Well, except you're vegan now."
You're right. I can't enjoy Thanksgiving anymore. It's about the turkey, not the quality time with family over a lovely tradition of food.
6. Grandpa: "He used to do vegan, but he stopped."
Uncle 1: "Yeah, because I grew up."
Well, that was offensive. Guess I've got some growing up to do.
7. Uncle 1: "What's that?"
Me: "Spaghetti squash with spaghetti sauce."
Uncle 1: "Seems out of place at a Thanksgiving dinner."
You're right, it's a delicious plate of food amongst a table of food. What was I thinking bringing a squash dish to Thanksgiving? God, I'm such a black sheep.
8. Younger cousin: "Mmmm, this turkey is good. But you wouldn't know because you're vegan." *waves turkey around on a fork*
Me: "That's okay because I really don't want any."
Mmmm, these vegan dishes I prepared from scratch are really good, but you're too busy trying to taunt me with store-bought turkey to notice.
9. Uncle 2: "Spaghetti squash? Never heard of it."
Me: "It's delicious."
Uncle 2: *tries some* "Oh wow! That is good! Okay, I won't call you a hippie anymore."
10. Younger cousin to little brother: "She's vegan. She's from a different planet."
Me: "Yes, let's teach your little brother that people who do things differently are from different planets."
*awkward silence across the table*
I can't make this stuff up.
I cooked more than I ever have this year, and it made the holiday a little more exciting. I felt like I was contributing. At my step dad's family dinner, his aunt begged me to let her take the leftover spaghetti squash, and I happily sent her home with it. Grandpa loved my vegan cookies, even though I wasn't totally thrilled with them. I think next time around I'll use more applesauce and sugar. My avocado chip dip vanished pretty quickly. Mom was ecstatic when I saved the spaghetti squash seeds and baked them. It was nice to watch people enjoy my food. I did find it annoying, however, when they were surprised they liked it just because it was labeled "vegan."
You and Mack taught me so much. I used to say these silly things too, even while I was on the March and vegetarian. I told you and Mack I was worried it would be too hard to transition. But, just like you warned me, it was easier than I thought, and just like you said I would, I'm wondering why I didn't go vegan sooner.
Going vegan has helped me mature. It's helped me understand myself better and to take the next step in "walking my talk." I am more honest with myself now. Even when I was a vegetarian, I didn't realize I was making excuses. I now have a deeper relationship with my food. I am healthier.
And my planet is a little bit happier.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful that I joined the Climate March and that you came into my life!
For those of you who are just breaking into the global food issue, I highly recommend this TedTalk by Tristram Stuart about the global food waste scandal. In it, he briefly touches on how meat production and our insistence on eating meat is actually contributing to food waste, not making more food for people, as Grandpa alluded to in Ridiculous Thanksgiving Moment #2.
Here are the recipes I made this Thanksgiving, give them a try!
- The avocado chip dip was really easy and yummy! Avocados are a vegan's best friend.
- Vegan stuffing. Food Network is right about the green tea! It works great!
- Here's instructions for how to cook a spaghetti squash. I prefer the method where you bake the squash whole. I added Earth Balance vegan butter and spaghetti sauce to my dish. To improve a store-bought jar of spaghetti sauce, chop fresh sweet peppers, onions, garlic, parsley and basil and add to the sauce when cooking.
- Save the seeds from the spaghetti squash! Separate them from the goop and put them on a cookie tray. Add salt and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. The result is a healthy, yummy snack.
- Vegan chocolate chip cookies. I personally found this recipe to be too dry. Some of my family loved it and others weren't fans. You can add more applesauce to moisten the cookies.
- To make mashed potatoes vegan, replace dairy butter with Earth Balance vegan butter and cow's milk with a dash of almond milk. Don't forget to add fresh, minced garlic!