Monday, November 19, 2012

The Trouble with Thanksgiving

It's here! Can you believe it's already Thanksgiving week!? I love what Thanksgiving represents... counting your blessings. spending time with family and friends, enjoying nature's bounty.

There's only one problem..

The traditional Thanksgiving feast--especially a traditional Southern Thanksgiving feast--doesn't leave many options for vegetarians. It's not as simple as just passing on the turkey, gravy, and stuffing (which, by the way is delicious with vegetable stock instead of turkey). Southerners have a knack for adding meat in the most creative ways! Mashed potatoes are flavored with chicken stock. Green beans have bits of pork floating in them. Cranberries are mixed with Jell-O. The sweet potato casserole has those tiny marshmallows on top.

If you're someone's guest, and you know they've slaved for hours over a hot stove for YOU, it feels horrible to just keep passing the serving dishes on by because you can't eat what's on them.

As a yoga student, I chose a mostly vegetarian diet in the name of ahimsa, or non-harming. It just feels wrong to me to eat animals ... but at times like Thanksgiving dinner when you know you might be hurting someone's feelings (and seem like a high-maintenance, ungrateful snot in the process) ... well, that just doesn't seem right either. Have you ever tried explaining vegetarianism to a 90-year-old grandma who lived through the Great Depression? She thinks you should be grateful to have a plate full of food--not worrying over whether it has chicken stock in it. It's Thanksgiving, for crying out loud! There are no winners in this situation.

I'm hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the first time this year, which means I can make sure I'm not eating meat products for the first time ever! Hooray! (Public Service Announcement: If something has "just a little bit" of bacon in it, your vegetarian guests still don't want to eat it.) But I'm struggling with having a turkey and other traditional foods that I know my guests will want. I don't want to be the reason that others don't enjoy their holiday in the way they choose to celebrate it, but I also know there are lots of other fantastic options.

So, I'm asking for advice from other vegetarians out there. How do you handle this delicate situation either as a guest or a host during the holidays?