The Daily Beet

14 Nov A Plant-Strong Turkey Day: The College Greens

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A Plant-Strong “Turkey Day” 

Basically every holiday is centered around food. And the most prominent food-centered holiday in American culture is coming up in the next few weeks: Thanksgiving. Or, as it is commonly called these days, “Turkey Day.” A day devoted to cooking and eating an elaborate meal. A day where many feel that if you don’t eat so much that you make yourself sick, then you haven’t truly celebrated.

Of course, this holiday is also centered around family and giving thanks. And we whole-heartedly believe in focusing on these aspects. But even though other people will say that they feel this way too, many will have a hard time accepting your decision not to eat the foods so tightly tied to the holiday. Your family might not be so thankful when you turn down the turkey, Grandma’s famous stuffing, or the homemade apple pie, even if you do so politely. Though you don’t mean it as a personal blow, it might be taken that way, and you may get attacked. Not physically, of course, but depending on how accepting (or un-accepting) your family is of your lifestyle choice, the holiday has potential to turn into an emotionally draining and stressful occasion.

We tell you these things not to scare you or bring you down, but because we want to offer help to those who may face this type of situation. We’ve all been through experiences where we felt ostracized for our eating habits, and we’re here to provide support and advice to our plant-strong pals.

First of all, if you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your house, then congratulations! You’re in the most optimal position. Many of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes can be easily plant-strong-ified. Make mashed potatoes with non-dairy milk and nutritional yeast. Skip the butter on the veggies. Bake your own whole-grain bread. Pumpkin pie, stuffing, and other Thanksgiving staples can also be made with whole, plant-based foods and still be just as, or even more, delicious! Check out happyherbivore.com, fatfreevegan.com, straightupfood.com, or Engine 2’s plant-strong holiday recipes pinterest page for ideas. Even if you still have a turkey for everyone else, you will skip having to make two totally different meals by making all of the other dishes plant-strong!

Speaking of which, let’s talk turkey for a moment. Depending on your personal feelings or situation, you may or may not want to cook a turkey. For some, the temptation to eat turkey could just be too much to handle, especially when the food is tied so strongly to the wonderful memories you have. So if you don’t think that you can resist nibbling while carving it up, or putting a slice on your plate, then maybe it’s best to skip having a turkey at dinner this year. Or, if you just don’t feel ethically right buying and cooking a turkey, then you can pass on purchasing one as well. However, for many people, this just isn’t practical. Eating turkey is part of the holiday, and just because you choose not to take part in this tradition doesn’t mean that everyone else wants to follow you in your “crazy” endeavor. If you’re hosting dinner, you can always ask someone else to bring the turkey. Oh, and as far as the whole “tofurky” thing goes… well, that’s up to you. Tofurky can often be highly processed. But if it will make you feel better about not eating turkey, then maybe it’s an okay option for you—just don’t overload your plate with it. However, if you want to get a tofurky because you’re thinking that maybe it will keep up the “spirit” of the holiday, then we suggest you pass on it. People might actually see eating a tofurky as even weirder than just not eating turkey; it could be a major turn off. In our opinion, there’s no need. There are so many perfectly scrumptious plant-strong foods that you can make and enjoy!! Fill up on those and you won’t even miss the baked bird.

Even if you’re not hosting the dinner, depending on your relationship with the host, you may be able to request that some of the dishes be made plant-strong. Regardless, definitely offer to bring a dish (or two!) so that you’re guaranteed to have something plantastic to eat.

Take this opportunity to be a living example . Just eat your plants (YUM) and don’t make a big deal out of it. As we’ve said before, you don’t want to make others feel bad about the way that they’re eating—especially at Thanksgiving, where the food has sentimental meaning for many people. But at the same time, don’t let others make you feel bad about what you’re eating. Be confident in yourself and in your lifestyle choice. Believe in yourself. Love yourself. You are plant-STRONG!

You can also try to start new, healthier Thanksgiving traditions with your friends and family. For example, suggest doing a local “Turkey Trot” race or family fun run in the morning. Or share a new recipe and cook it together while you watch the parade! (Again, as we’ve mentioned before, you don’t have to preface the recipe by saying that it’s plant-strong. That way people don’t have preconceived notions about it before making/tasting it. You can tell them later after they love it ). Or maybe your family would be open to adding a big salad to Thanksgiving dinner! You know your family, and what they would like. Don’t be afraid to suggest something new. It could be a fun bonding experience for everyone!

And, of course, give thanks. This is the real meaning behind Thanksgiving, right? To acknowledge all of the good in our lives and take the day to really give the wonderful people and things in our lives the appreciation they deserve. Focus on this. Tell your family and friends how much they mean to you. Spread the love, and maybe you will inspire others to see the big picture of the holiday as well. And please, thank yourself for the amazing lifestyle you have given yourself. A plant-strong life is happy, healthy, compassionate, and empowering. You are feeding yourself the very best that nature has to offer, and by doing so you are giving yourself the very best that life has to offer.

We love and appreciate each and every one of you. Thank you.

-The College Greens.

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The College Greens
The College Greens

The College Greens: Tara, Jenna, and Craig. Tara is a junior at Bucknell University, currently majoring in Education and minoring in Creative Writing, and planning to do a nutrition program upon graduation. Jenna is a sophomore attending Duquesne University, and she is studying to become a Physician Assistant. Both Tara and Jenna are certified in Plant-Based Nutrition through Dr.Campbell's eCornell program. Craig is a senior at Bucknell University. He is majoring in Chemistry and minoring in English, and is planning to go to medical school to become a pediatrician, where he hopes to incorporate lifestyle medicine in his practice.

  • Kristi Bowman
    Posted at 15:49h, 14 November

    I am thankful to have received some Thanksgiving day recipes from E2 and the Happy Herbivore. I’ll be cooking this weekend to see what works and what may not. I have 2 non plant strong dinners to attend so I hope I can bring a couple of really yummy dishes that will help me resist the turkey and other non plant strong temptations.

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