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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Giving Thought to Thanksgiving

I have this video playing in my head about the First Thanksgiving. It's where everyone is seated around the table, and as they are passing platters of food to one another, one of the Pilgrim ladies says, "Oh, none for me, I am plant-strong, but could you please pass me the acorn squash with wild rice?" Someone had to be plant strong at that dinner, don't you think?

This will be my second Thanksgiving being plant-strong. And let me tell you this, it gets easier with time. Really. With the exception of the carcass in the center of the table, I have learned to create vegan counterparts to every animal dish ever made. And, I steer clear of the Tofurkey, as it is too highly processed for me. The more I am vegan, the more I appreciate simple, pure, local, and fresh foods.

In some ways, though, I am a cheater. After having spent 25 days of November selling turkeys to housewives, teachers, lawyers, and the like, I am pretty much exhausted, especially during those three days prior to Thanksgiving. That's because I work three, 12 hour days of slinging turkeys to 2000 people. I am pooped. Although, I am always energized to do my favorite 5K on Thanksgiving morning.

My cheating, however, comes in this way; I take my family out to eat Thanksgiving dinner. I am so tired from work, that the thought of cooking exhausts me. We go to a fancy place. We all get dressed up. We look good. Philadelphia is not short on good restaurants, so it is always a pleasant day. And, I eat vegetables, and lots of them!

After making my reservation, I ask to speak to the chef. I see if they have brown rice, baked sweet potatoes, and can vegetables be cooked without any expressed oils. Here's the deal; in this economy, restaurants want your business, and short of acting as though I have a personal chef, no restaurant has ever disappointed. And, as the courses are being served, my small family and I catch up on activities, reminisce, and have fun.

Meanwhile, at home, Crockpots are filled with all kinds of veggie dishes for "leftovers." Sage, thyme and other herbs maintain the flavors of Thanksgiving. I am not a loss for the traditional flavors. Brown rice, succulent steamed vegetables, and a hearty salad make for great grub later in the day.

Dessert isn't an issue, either. There are a million vegan pumpkin pie recipes out there, and you can easily convert a conventional recipe by adding almond milk and egg-replacer. Mighty Muffins can also be made with pumpkin (3 bananas/1 cup of mashed pumpkin) and seasoned to fall perfection. And really, I highly doubt that the Pillsbury Dough Boy was even at that first gathering many, many years ago. I am sure desserts were simple, too, and that simplicity is something that being a vegan helps you to maintain.

Thanksgiving used to be the admission to crazy eating for six weeks for me. Now, it is just another day, but a day where I get to reflect, count my blessings, connect with friends, and then take a nice long nap. I am no longer held captive by the end result of eating things that weren't good for me.

If you're not going out, get a Brown Rice Extravaganza going on. And I bet your family will want that more than anything else at the table.

One thing that stays true is that you still get to count your blessings on this special day.

Lettuce give thanks.


  1. I'm actually stressing over it a little bit already. We cook at home, unless we are traveling to my hometown (which we are not this year). But, when I say we, I mean, I work until about 2 and my dear husband does all the cooking. I think he will be expecting turkey. I can barely stand to think of hauling around dozens and dozens for customers, let alone having one take up space in my fridge. It will be the first real holiday test. I just don't want to do it! I don't want to have a dead bird on my table!

  2. Amy,

    It is really easier than you think. I had a farmer I work with give me a turkey,so I felt better knowing the farmer and the turkey's origin. However, even then, I was at a point where I could not even touch the turkey.

    This year, reservations, loads of veggies, and I think I will pass on any poultry this year. Less is more.

    My family eats loads of turkey when we go out...so, I hope to sustain their "leftover" yearnings with mashed potatoes and the like.

    2000 turkeys.