So, this Thursday being Thanksgiving and all, I started thinking this past weekend about what I would serve. We'll be a small party of Pilgrims and Indians: me, Dyl, Ry, and our friend Megan, so a turkey seemed a bit much anyway.
When I became a vegan, I thought I would probably make exceptions for holidays. Then, I made the colossal mistake of reading Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals. Oops. Honestly, it's a great book but full of lots of terrifying, disgusting, and depressing facts about factory farming and its widespread deleterious effects on not only the animals, but our health, and the environment. After I read the portion on poultry slaughterhouses, I knew I could never eat Thanksgiving turkey (two words: fecal soup...that's all I'm going to say...).
However, being a reasonable person who can look both ways down the animal product street, I knew Dylan and Megan (our friend Megan, not me...so confusing!) might not be as keen on Tofurkey as I am, so I told Dylan he was in charge of the meat dish. He chose Cornish game hens instead of turkey, since there are only 2 1/2 meat eaters attending our little shindig. I also ordered a small pumpkin cheesecake for the dairy consumers. The rest of the feast will be vegan.
It turned out to be surprisingly easy to transform traditional Thanksgiving dishes into vegan Thanksgiving dishes. Our menu will include: mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, sweet potato casserole, brussels sprouts, mushroom stuffing, and a vegan pumpkin cheesecake in addition to the Cornish game hens and Tofurkey and traditional pumpkin cheesecake.
I already shared with you the recipe for vegan mashed potatoes - just a simple substitute of non-dairy spread for butter and unsweetened soymilk for milk. The sweet potato casserole recipe hardly has to be changed at all. There are 2 T. of butter in it and it's an easy fix to switch that to non-dairy spread. The brussels sprouts just need to be tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper and oven-roasted, which is exactly as I would have made them if I wasn't a vegan. The original stuffing recipe calls for sausage. I'm substituting shiitake mushrooms drizzled with soy sauce for that umami flavor.
Turns out it's pretty easy to create a vegan Thanksgiving. I worried at first that I would miss the bird, but then I realized that celebrating this way is my way of giving thanks. I am thankful that I live in a country where following an alternative diet is a possibility. I don't have to eat whatever I can find or grow or face starvation. I have the luxury of making food choices based on health, personal convictions, and even something as frivolous as personal taste, and I am very thankful for that.