Today is American Thanksgiving, and my one year Vegan birthday which I’m quite excited about. I went vegetarian in August of last year, but by last American Thanksgiving I was more then ready to take the plunge into veganism. I found the transition to be quite smooth actually. I’d known from the start of my vegetarian commitment that veganism was my goal, and so even though I was vegetarian I was living a mostly vegan life. When it got to the point where I was using vegan dairy products more then dairy ones, and finding my tastes towards cheese turning I decided to finally take the plunge. Thanksgiving might seem like an odd day to decide to go vegan. I know a lot of people can’t believe it when I tell them. "But how were you able to deal with all that temptation?" "But it’s the holiday." "All that food" etc.. People often consider holidays to be about food, but I consider them to be about sharing time with the people in my life. For me, because I was already devoted to vegetarianism, and veganism was something I desperately aspired to, it wasn’t difficult, and there honestly was no temptation. Once you truly make the choice to change, it doesn’t matter how much you may have loved this or that food in your previous life, you simply no longer desire it. At least that’s how it was for me. Cheese, butter, cream, eggs, milk etc... were no longer appetizing to me and so there was no temptation. Of course last Thanksgiving was a bit difficult, but it was difficult because I was the odd-woman out so to speak. My husband was not even vegetarian at that time though he fully supported me, and everyone else around me was scarfing down turkey and the fixin’s while I ate my Gardein, with mushroom gravy, Roasted Brussels sprouts, cranberry curry and cous cous.
I got a lot of stares, a lot of looks, a lot of avoidance, and a lot of questions. However when it came time for me to answer the questions posed by a very few, the majority of people sitting around the table did not want to hear what I had to say. This was probably most difficult, trying to answer someone genuinely curious, while the majority is just glaring at you to be quiet. People get very defensive when you don’t engage in their traditions, they take it as a personal affront. Bringing your own food to a holiday dinner definitely rubs some people the wrong way and for a while I was viewed by some as "Thinking I was better then them." or that I was "Militant." I got all those "Who does she think she is?" comments. Now I don’t want to give the impression that people were mean to me outright, or treated me poorly, but when you are the only vegan in the room, you certainly feel it. That was and has always been the most difficult thing for me about veganism, actually living a vegan lifestyle is easy, but it’s dealing with others that can be stressful. However that has never caused me to falter. I’ve never once compromised my values simply so I could ‘fit in’ and being able to stand up for myself and my values only makes me stronger. Today I consider going vegan to be the best thing I’ve ever done. I can’t imagine even for a second going back to the way I used to be.
This Thanksgiving is going to be much easier. I’m much more versed in veganism and can properly articulate myself when questions are asked. I don’t feel like an outsider (at least not in a bad way) and more importantly I have extra support. My husband is now vegetarian/vegan and so we will be able to eat our meal together. My friend J Is trying to be vegetarian and so she will be joining us in our meal, by bringing a spinach lasagna with tofu ricotta, as well as the chocolate raspberry blackout cake from Vegan with a Vengeance. I will bring appetizers and desserts, and we’ll have a wonderful time together.
However the best thing about this Thanksgiving for me is that my husband and I ‘adopted’ a turkey. Farm Sanctuary has an "Adopt a Turkey, Don’t eat One" program around Thanksgiving, and they’ve been doing it for years. It’s a $30 sponsor donation that you can give to a particular Turkey of your choice or $180 that you can donate to a flock. Around Thanksgiving Farm Sanctuary receives a lot of rescued turkeys some in ill-health and every bit that we can donate helps go a long way in providing a comfortable peaceful life for this beautiful majestic birds. We decided to adopt a super-cute Turkey named Victoria, and just thinking of her living the remainder of her life out in peace, with warmth, shelter, food, friends and love and care just brings a smile to my face and a lightness to my heart. Being able to take part in something so special is the best feeling in the world, I only wish I could do more. I would love to take part in their program in which you can adopt a turkey and have it come to your home, unfortunately right now that is impossible, and my neighborhood isn’t zoned for it anyway. Though one day I think it would be nice to own a good acreage of land on which I can keep rescued animals.
In closing I wish you all a wonderful and happy cruelty-free Thanksgiving, or tofurky day if you will. May your plates be full of delicious vegan fair, and may your company and conversation be inspirational. I also ask that if you’re able to, please help support these rescued turkeys by making a donation and sponsoring one this Thanksgiving. Please adopt a turkey, don’t eat one this year, it is the best holiday gift you can give yourself and they will be eternally grateful for your help.
For more information and where and how to ‘adopt’ a turkey go here....