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 Post subject: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:35 pm 
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So I know a lot of you are cooking up awesome vegan meals for family parties, but what if you are a lonely vegan going to a family party where you don't want to ruin the spirit of Thanksgiving for everyone else, and yes, I don't want them to think I am protesting their bird (my dad is always proud of his store bought bird, and I love him). At my home, we eat vegan, there are only vegan options available. At family parties my kids and husband can eat what they want. But I would like to stick with my vegan ways. Should I just fill my plate vegetarian and forget a protein, or make one protein dish, but cause a scene of people asking why I am not eating turkey. I know that I can grab green beans before the bacon is added, and I can grab a cooked potato before the butter and milk go in, so that is not a problem.

Just wondering what other lonely vegans do?


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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:59 pm 
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There are two things you can do.
When I was vegetarian and before I really explored the world of fake meats I would just fill my plate up with sides and I was perfectly content because there is SO MUCH food at Thanksgiving. So I would eat stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, etc. if you’re really uncomfortable asking for any sort of special treatment at thanksgiving or bringing separate dishes I would suggest going this way.
I don’t think you need protein at every single meal. If people ask you just say you don’t eat meat. Simple as that you don’t need to get into an argument over ethics.
What I do these days is we usually go to my inlaws for Thanksgiving. It is an omni household but very veg friendly. They make the stuffing from scratch and don’t use chicken stock. They keep some separate and out of the bird for me. They set aside mashed potatoes for me before they put the milk and butter in.
I also cook several things basically for myself. I tell everyone they are welcome to some but other than a vegetable dish I am usually the only one who eats the vegan stuff.
I don’t think bringing vegan food and not eating turkey ruins the thanksgiving spirit. What I think WOULD ruin the thanksgiving spirit is being like over the top about it and launching into an anti animal cruelty tirade while Dad is slicing up the turkey. You can just simply bring some food to share or eat some sides and still participate in the family atmosphere of thanksgiving.
It seems like maybe you are worried about insulting your dad and not eating his turkey and also bringing a substitute to replace his turkey that might insult him. Depending on your relationship you could always take him aside and just tell him flat out that you love him to pieces but you’ve chosen to eat a certain way and that you don’t want to eat any turkey and that it has nothing to do with him.
I am always the only vegan at Thanksgiving. A couple years ago my SIL was there and she is a vegetarian but that’s the closest ive gotten. If we go with my family my sister in law on that side is big into hunting and so is my oldest nephew so it’s kind of a horror show but I still do my own thing. I don’t force my veganism on anyone but I just make sure I am taken care of because Thanksgiving is like my favorite holiday!

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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:11 pm 
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I really wouldn't worry about the protein so much. After all, grains, fruit and veggies all have protein in 'em and that's the stuff that sides are made of. Also, we always have hummus and small bites before dinner at family get togethers. Hummus is protein-packed and almost certainly a welcome addition to the party.

My greater concern would be that you let your dad know what's up before you arrive. Help him veganize at least a few of the sides. You don't want to be stuck nibbling on baby carrots. Then you'll get everything thinking "Aww, poor vegan. I'm sure glad I'm not one of them!".

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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:28 pm 
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I agree, you can just forget the protein and pile on the sides if they're vegan-friendly. You can even offer to bring something if you're concerned they won't make it vegan. There's so much food, people probably won't even notice the lack of turkey but if they do, you can casually say that you don't eat meat. If you're worried that they will make a big deal about it, you can just say you're just trying it out this year. People usually tend to be pretty understanding when I phrase it like that.
Just make sure you have enough good food. Like nickvicious said, I think people tend to have more negative responses to veganism when you're sitting there eating nothing instead of thoroughly enjoying yourself and joining in on the face-stuffing.

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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:03 pm 
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I would venture to say that most of us are lone vegans at Thanksgiving tables. I've never had another vegan at a Thanksgiving table with me ever.

I dont understand how you eating according to your values would "ruin the spirit" for everyone else. The spirit is about giving thanks and seeing your loved ones, not eating green bean casserole and turkey.

Just because you love your dad doesn't mean you have to pretend to agree with everything he does. If he cares for you as much as you seem to for him, he would want you to be yourself and not compromise your values for someone else, even him. How long have you been vegan? Why doesn't your dad know? Obviously I don't know your family, but I don't think it will be as big of a deal as you think it will be.

Unless your family is a bunch of real jerks, it wouldn't be causing a scene to inform them you don't eat turkey and cheese. It's not like you've joined the KKK. There's nothing to be ashamed about! If it somehow offends them, that's their problem, not yours. (And the solution is not for you to hide and pretend. The solution is for them to be more accepting.) It's a bit upsetting to me that you think you'd be ruining the holiday or causing a scene by bringing a dish. Bringing a dish is generally considered good manners and it's your contribution of the bounty in the spirit of what Thanksgiving is about. It's not like your dish is competing with the others. Maybe if you brought the exact same dish as someone else, that could possibly be a little awkward, but I think people would just be glad to have more food available. But you bringing a dish is not causing a scene. If there is "a scene" it would be caused by people being close-minded, not by you bringing a dish. But once again, I think you're blowing the possible outcome a little out of proportion.

But if you're still afraid of offending by bringing your own dish and you really don't want to reveal your beliefs to your family, maybe just say that [main component of your dish] was on sale and you found a great recipe and wanted to share the bounty with everyone. after all, that's kinda what thanksgiving is about. But I think hiding your beliefs from your family is not the right thing to do. (Will you just hide forever?) Just go in there with a smile and confidence and say how glad you are to see everyone and that you brought xx dish.

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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:28 pm 
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yay! i'm glad someone started this thread! i'll be the lone vegan this thanksgiving.

i'm going to visit a very close friend and her family in DC for thanksgiving. we'll be over at my friend's aunt's house. i've asked my friend's mom for the aunt's email address so i can introduce myself (i haven't seen her since i was, like, 10), thank her for her hospitality, and let her know about the way i eat and that i plan to bring things for myself.

i'm going to bring a cooler with as much stuff as i can. i'm thinking: biscuits, cookies, maybe a pie, and chickpea cutlets. i'm going to pray i can eat a couple of vegetable sides and cranberry sauce.


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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:17 am 
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I would bring a casserole of some sort, something delicious and filling like the V'Con pumpkin ziti. That way I would be assured to have something I could eat and others would likely eat it and enjoy it as well - just put it on the table with everything else.

I would be wary of the stuffing etc., obviously if it had been stuffed into the bird, but also because it often has meat or meat broth added to it.


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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:15 am 
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last year was my first vegan thanksgiving and i was definitely the lone vegan... as i am at most meals! it turned out that my second cousin's wife was also a vegetarian, and we swapped recipes!

most of my family didn't think twice about me not taking meat, because the ones who really pay attention already knew. because some members of my family keep kosher, i knew that none of the sides would have any dairy in them and my aunt who was hosting made sure to tell me if something had eggs.

i brought a small amount of vegan stuffing, mushroom gravy, a dessert, and v'con's ridiculously good acorn squash and black bean empanadas. more than anything, my family was all curious to try everything and asked a lot of questions. like many previous posters said, i kept everything very mellow, not using thanksgiving as a platform to discuss the cruel treatment of animals. the only thing that hardly anybody would try was the pumpkin cheesecake i brought for dessert. i think if i hadn't called it cheesecake, maybe it wouldn't have been off-putting to anyone. my dad tried it though, and liked it!

this year the family that is hosting is getting the entire thing catered by a kosher restaurant. my mom was told that we should not bring any side dishes, but she politely requested that an exception was made for me because i can't really rely on a restaurant that i haven't properly vetted myself.

my mom wants me to make the empanadas again, and i'm thinking i'll also bring some chickpea cutlets and a dessert. i know that if i'm just super enthusiastic about how much fun it is to cook vegan and how delicious everything is, my relatives will be open to at least tasting whatever i make.

no matter what, if you are still showing the "thanksgiving spirit" while eating your delicious cruelty-free foods, nobody can bring you down!


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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:36 am 
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Thanks ladies. I think I will stick to sides. My family knows that I don't eat meat, but even though it has been about 6 months, my sisters (my biggest critics of course) think I am going through a phase. I am always in charge of the pumpkin pies, so I am going to make them for the family the same way as always, and then make another that is vegan.

Also, I am always weary of the stuffing after I found out one year my mom actually cut up the "gizzards and lizards", which is what we call the yuckies in the bag inside the turkey, and puts them in the stuffing. So I have never been a fan of that.

They can't fault me for eating cautiously, because before I became vegan I spent a year and a half with awful digestive issues and lost a bit of weight. I have been able to gain weight back and eat more on the vegan diet. My parents know. My dad has 3 girls and is one of those super dads, as each one of us girls think he is the greatest guy ever.

I am probably way overthinking. A glass or two of red wine should do the trick.


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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:56 am 
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i think i kinda get where you're coming from.
you just dont want to *deal* with it.
im the same way when i have thanksgiving with my family.
the best thing about having Thanksgiving with my inlaws is no one gives a flying fork that im a vegan. it's not brought up, no one talks about it, it's as normal there as eating the turkey. it's a non-issue.

with my family though they are supportive and i think have realized it's not a phase (15 years vegetarianism and almost 2 years of veganism) i still have to sick through the jokes as if they are hysterically funny.
like "oh here Lisa here's the great big plate of turkey, oh guess you want the biggest piece. har har har" cause after 15+ years of that it's still hysterically funny :-P

all you want to do is have a nice thanksgiving with your family and not have your lifestyle brought up over and over as a joking point even if they arent trying to be cruel. it's like ENOUGH ALREADY PEOPLE!

i totally get what you're saying.
just do what you are comfortable with and that's really the best advice i can give you.
and you're right you're probably over thinking it :-)
have a glass or two of wine and a big ol piece of pie and relax :-)

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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:02 pm 
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jacblades wrote:
I dont understand how you eating according to your values would "ruin the spirit" for everyone else.


I don't either, but with my friends and family, me being there makes them so uncomfortable, I am not welcome anymore. I don't even get the invite!

And no, I am not a preacher. Most have not even asked my reasons behind being vegan. I don't talk about it, am very quiet about it, don't ask for anything special, bring my own dishes to share etc, but apparently having a vegan around an eating event makes everyone really uncomfortable. I don't mind that much anyway. It hurt my feelings at first, but I would rather not be around people eating dead turkey anyway. I do make a nice dinner for me and my partner, and I get drunk and try to forget that it is Thanksgiving.

(ok, it does still hurt my feelings. It sucks to be left out of all holiday events. Even when I get the half-assed invite, I know I am not wanted.)


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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:34 pm 
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That is sad. I turned vegan in late winter/early spring, and it was really easy through the summer with bbqs because I would bring a veggie dog or veggie burger for the grill and the "grillmaster" of the party didn't mind cooking them with everything else. This is my first party without having a look-a-like substitution which is probably why I am nervous. Again, probably just all in my head.

My mom still invites me and my family over for dinner and then quietly says she could make chicken or meatloaf, and then she gets more sad when I say we can't, more like we don't want to. But we had a good conversation about foods she could make. Like spaghetti without meat in the sauce or taco bar with all the fixins, but with refried beans and rice or another whole bean. So they are slowly understanding that not eating meat means that I really don't eat meat. I haven't even tried to explain the whole, no eggs, milk or cheese, because that would seriously blow their minds.


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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:54 pm 
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i think there is an adjustment period where people have to wrap their brain around something totally different than what they have been doing everyday for their entire lives.

i became a vegetarian like a month after i left for college so most of the time i was eating at school so it was no big deal. when i would go home my mom was just like confused.
she literally couldnt figure it out for a long loooong time.
i ate mainly side dishes which in that house was usually a frozen vegetable and rice pilaf which i hate. it was a sad time in my life ;-)

but wouldnt you know it almost 17 years later my mom is a vegetarian now :-O

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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 2:56 pm 
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My husband and I are making our own food and bringing a plate for ourselves to each gathering we have to go to. I'll probably make desserts to share though.


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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:07 pm 
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i prefer to just go up for dessert. eat a good vegan meal at home and then hang out with family after the massacre. (i guess this only works with a giant family like mine. they probably are thankful for the extra 2 seats at the table.) it's just that i can't get around the death to be thankful for the bounty. (besides, thanksgiving is an awful holiday for native americans.) i just can't get into it.

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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:05 pm 
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You could always bring a dish of some sort, and then eat a plate full of sides or whatever else is available. Maybe some of your family members will really enjoy whatever you bring, too! Otherwise it sounds like you have plenty of options to choose from.

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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:23 pm 
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Oh but Thanksgiving is my very very very favorite holiday. It is the only one where my dad's family and mom's family come together. Plus it is always right around my birthday. I am going to pretend the bird isn't there. I keep telling husband it is a "frankenbird" after all the stuff I read about turkeys. Oh well, at least I only have one party to attend.

Last weekend I went to a family party (husbands side) and the only option I had for eating was the ramon noodle salad I made and some black bean salsa someone made. But the funny thing is, the family has been reading and watching all those documentaries and books that I have, and I am not sure they eat the stuff they were serving to everybody.


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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:44 pm 
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If you want something more substantial to go with your sides, what about something that's not a faux meat type dish, like stuffed mushrooms with hazelnut & cranberry stuffing? That would be something you could share with the omnis, & accompanied by a baked potato & greens, would make a really nice meal for you. You could take along some gravy too!

My family are quite supportive, but one Christmas dinner, hosted at my place, they brought along this *gigantic* pig leg that only just fit in my oven, & nothing else fit. So we all had to sit around waiting for their thing to cook & all the vegan food & sides had to go in afterwards (the vegan/omni ratio was 50/50, so it wasn't like I was the only one to cater for). And I'd asked them repeatedly to be mindful of what they brought because of all the stuff that had to fit in the oven. That sure was annoying...

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 Post subject: Re: The lonely Thanksgiving Vegan?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:05 pm 
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I'm the only vegan at my Thanksgiving, although our celebration is usually small and mostly immediate family. Some years instead of having something protein-y, I've made a stuffed butternut squash that works as a main dish for me, but which everyone else will eat as a side.

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