Thanksgiving is here and it is that time of year when our fellow plant-based bloggers are posting some of their best and most popular Thanksgiving ideas. We are huge fans of pretty much all of them. Our favorites are Fork Over Knives, No Meat Athlete and Minimalist Baker among many others. We actually piece together a little bit of everyone’s recipes to make our own plant-powered Thanksgiving feast! It’s a blast.
This post, however is about that other thing that Thanksgiving is about…giving thanks! The food somehow gets all the spotlight on this wonderful holiday and although there was some food back in 1621 to celebrate the pilgrims’ first successful harvest, the best part about the gathering was simply being together. Also, did you know there was no turkey at the first Thanksgiving?! Don’t believe me…check this out:
I digress. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I am not a gifts person…I am a FOOD person. I have so many fond memories of Thanksgivings past. The nostalgia is palpable. My grandma would come over early in the morning to start preparing the turkey. With the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade playing in the background, the seasonal aroma of turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, apple pie and all the fixings would fill the house. Time was obsolete as we spent hours together as a family just visiting, talking and hanging out. By the time the parade on tv had turned to football, our turkey was done and we would all gather our plates and head into the kitchen to grab the goods! We ate all day long. Lunch transitioned into dinner which after a short food-coma, led right into late night snack. By the time you were finished eating three or four helpings, you couldn’t help but look forward to the next day’s leftovers. In a nutshell…our Thanksgivings were the bomb!
Now that I am an adult and have my own family of five to think of (three kids and a husband), I naturally look to recreate the same feelings I had when I was a kid…only something is different. Our family is vegan. We do not eat meat/animal protein or dairy of any kind. This choice originally started after I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis back in 2006, but it has grown and matured into so much more. Through a journey of knowledge, education of what happens at large factory farms and the health benefits of eating more fruits and veggies, we have evolved into a caring, health-conscious family that strongly considers many factors before choosing to put any type of food in our bodies. While I won’t go into all of those factors for this post, I can tell you that we have our own family rules about the way we eat that are constantly changing, evolving and morphing. For those on the outside looking in at our family, it seems inspiring; for others it might be offensive. For us, we simply are trying to do what any parent would do for their kids…give them the healthiest life possible so they can live their little lives to the fullest.
Sadly, my wish of recreating Thanksgiving as it was when I was a kid is a lot harder these days. We have heard from so many folks that are either vegan, vegetarian, peskatarian or otherwise that have a hard time at Thanksgiving. One of my co-workers (after hearing I was vegan) actually mentioned to me that he would not be celebrating Thanksgiving with his family because it was too hard for him. He continued to explain that after years of enduring awkward family conversations and jokes being made at his expense, he was tired. Additionally, when he got together with his family at a gathering there was usually only one dish he could eat…the one he brought…hardly a feast of any kind.
In addition to giving thanks this holiday season, I have a wish. Let’s get back to what Thanksgiving was really about…being together. Before there was Turkey, there was the simplicity of being togehter. So this Thanksgiving, let’s leave our judgements at the door. Let’s not personalize other people’s choices. Let’s be inclusive. Let’s try as hard as we can not to ask loaded questions. I promise you that my decision not to eat meat has less to do with you, and more to do with me. And if you’re interested in my journey, I’m happy to share it with you. But I promise that I’m still the same person…the same little girl inside that loves the nostalgia of years past and wants to create nostalgia for my little ones for years to come. We are all really smart and I know we can sit at the same table, with our different beliefs, and share the love and gratitude that is common to us all. Thanks for giving this post a read. Go out there and give thanks with inclusivity, compassion, consideration and most of all….joy!