What Price Tradition?

David and I are hosting Thanksgiving for the third year in a row, and three of our five children and our grandson will be there.  As new vegans, we had a few discussions about how we wanted to handle the meal.  We decided that wanted to be true to our convictions as ethical vegans and have a vegan Thanksgiving.  And I admit that I had some trepidation about sharing the news with my son, Sam, who I thought might feel disappointed to not have his favorite “traditional” foods (cheesy au gratin potatoes for example) at the meal.

Through a text message (giving me the space to deal with my and his reactions) I shared the news.  He responded predictably–“what no cheesy potatoes?!” although he did add “lol”.  After a bit of back and forth chatting peppered with “lol’s” (mine and his) I assured him that he would be served a delicious meal and be healthier for it.  He agreed to keep an open mind as long as I didn’t tell him the specifics about exactly what he was eating.  Well, okay, I can live with that.  I am incredibly excited to see the kids and share the best my vegan culinary skills have to offer.  It’s going to be a great time.

And that brings me to a feature article I read in the Huffington Post this morning entitled, “I’ll Take Turkey Over Tofu, Thank you” and you can read it for yourself here.  The premise of the article (I think) is that tradition matters–and tradition (for this family) seems to be eating the turkey, the stuffing made with gobs of butter, and the pecan pie a la mode.  And the author emphatically (defiantly?) states that she and her family “will enjoy every bite”.  WOW.  Now I know that most people this Thanksgiving will be eating some version of the aforementioned meal (and enjoying it) but I couldn’t help but wonder about her defensive tone.  Perhaps she doth protest too much??

The author states that she is happy to eat vegan or gluten-free concoctions but others shouldn’t judge her for wanting to keep her traditions.  I agree that no one likes to be judged, and vegans, like people passionate about any cause, can ruffle plenty of feathers.  But this is not simply a matter of tit for tat or about our cooking skills or palate.  It is a matter of conscience.  I doubt I’m exaggerating when I say that millions of turkeys will be inhumanely fattened up and slaughtered so that American families can keep up this tradition.  I can work my way down the Thanksgiving menu but I won’t bother.  It’s all so very sad that as a country this is where we are at.  On some level, I wonder if the author of this article, who is making her assertions with some pretty intense energy doesn’t deep-down have her own concerns about the animals, the environment, her health and the health of her family.   I think it’s hard to live in our culture without there being some uneasiness about our values and how we live.

Regarding traditions, I do understand that family rituals can keep us feeling connected to one another, and this author alluded to an”empty chair” at her table.  I could feel the sadness in her words. The rituals around holidays (and food) are some of the most powerful we experience in our families and culture.  And one way we connect one generation to another is through rituals like these.  But even so, I believe that some traditions and rituals are worth rethinking even if the transitions feel uncomfortable.  As we all know, at one time, “being true to one’s heritage” meant owning slaves.

On a slightly lighter note (but still on the subject of tradition and ritual) I barely got my own mini-ritual started when I had to change it.  Remember this?

DSCN2042

That wool yarn was not animal-friendly and the macaron is full of butter.  Here is my updated spread:

DSCN2143

This is acrylic yarn from my stash that I am using to crochet a “snuggle blanket” for an animal shelter.  I got wind of this idea from an internet pal (thanks Barb!) who was wondering what to do with her (non-animal friendly) merino wool and she was considering making blankets for animal shelters.  I like the idea of making some mini reparations in this way as well.  The wool from the sweater above (if it’s washable) will probably be slated for shelter blankets as well.  If you want to know more about this wonderful effort you can check it out here.

As for the cookie:

DSCN2146

This delectable oat jam thumbprint cookie came with me from home.  I made a batch yesterday and you can find the recipe here.

While I made some changes to my mini-ritual, I still chatted with other folks at Whole Foods and thoroughly enjoyed my time there.  And here’s the thing–traditional foods are nice but they are nice because of the meaning we assign to them.  Turkey on Thanksgiving means connection and love and family.  While we can swap out one food for another, the people sitting around our tables are and will always be the main event.

New traditions await.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “What Price Tradition?

  1. You truly are my hero! Your clarity and courage in the face of a societal tradition that ignores universal ethics is awesomely inspirational. Xoxoxo!!

    Like

  2. You’re welcome! And thanks for the link to the Snuggles Project. I hadn’t known there was an organization doing this, although the idea is often mentioned on assorted websites along with preemie blankets. preemie hats, the Red Scarf Project, Warm Up America, etc.

    Like

    • You’re welcome Barb. I was grateful that the Snuggles project actually provided some patterns (they are on Ravelry too!) because I hadn’t crocheted since I was about 12! I figured crocheting would go faster. And it does 🙂

      Like

  3. I won’t be having a vegan Thanksgiving (alas!), but I agree that it’s not so much about traditional food as it is about family (or friends, this year for me) and connection. When I hosted Rosh Hashanah a few months ago, a lot of people asked me to suggest an “appropriate” dish to bring. I told them it really didn’t matter if what they brought was authentic, as long as it was made (or purchased: it’s the thought that counts!) with love. I think because of the conviction and the passion you put into your vegan cooking, it will be a very special Thanksgiving. I’ll be sorry to miss it!

    Like

  4. We love making our own traditions. Good for you in making yours!

    We are so far removed from the hunted turkey that was *supposedly* the first T-giving meal, articles like that seem childish. We are holding millions of turkeys hostage in deplorable conditions JUST to hold to our traditions? Hm. If every American family was required to go out and hunt a wild turkey for the Thanksgiving meal, something tells me turkey would no longer be the centerpiece. Taking the *easy way* of rape, torture, murder hardly seems thankful to me.

    No thanks. Pass me the veggies, please. I’ll be celebrating the fall harvest rather than murder with my family. 😀

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s