Well, my first holiday as a vegan has officially passed – I definitely had some mixed emotions and experiences, and I wanted to share a bit with everyone.
Thanksgiving was always my Aunt Fran’s holiday. I have really fond memories of my dad’s side of the family gathering at her house every November….hanging out with my cousins, my Uncle Jimmy sitting with us at the kids table and telling jokes, and the extensive dessert display after dinner. We all started to get older, some of the cousins started their own families, I left for college and the yearly Thanksgiving dinners were never the same. Last year, my sweet Aunt Fran passed suddenly and those dinners are now memories for all of us.
Since I finished college and took up residence in PA, I have been traveling home to have Thanksgiving at my mom’s house. She always had a bunch of people over and she did a great job entertaining. This past year, she decided to keep the dinner quiet….just us. My mom and her boyfriend are not vegan or vegetarian, so I offered to make my own main dish and some stuffed artichokes for everyone. Mom did a nice job making some side dishes that I could eat as well. I stuffed some spaghetti squash with greens, chickpeas, and mushrooms.
I even baked some vegan chocolate chip cookies!
From an eating aspect, I was set. But the one thing that didn’t sit well with me was the presence of a turkey in the oven while I was cooking my food. Even worse was when the carved turkey was placed on the table in front of me….I lost my appetite. I just can’t get into the celebrating mood with something like that in view – it makes me sad instead.
Let me just say that I am not the type of vegan that disassociates with people in their life that eat meat. While I would love for my family and friends to join me in this healthier, cruelty-free lifestyle that has changed me for the better, I cannot expect them to do it just because I did. People need to have their own reasons to change and they have to want it. I knew that mom would be making a turkey, but I had no idea that it would bother me that much. The image is still in my head! I’ve been so removed from that sort of thing that it really threw me for a loop .
I know I’m not the only vegan that went through something like this in November. I don’t really know that there was anything I could have done to avoid it. My new goal is to host a completely cruelty-free Thanksgiving dinner in the future. I love my family and I respect their traditions, but I would like to start one of my own. If I can’t make it happen for next year, I hope that my family will understand and respect my opinion when I ask that any sort of large carved animal be left off the table. I don’t think that a small gesture like that would take away from their celebration, but it would certainly add to mine.
I hope everyone has a wonderful, family and fun-filled holiday season. Here’s to future ThanksLIVING celebrations for all of us!