Veganism & the Holidays

The holidays are a perfect microcosm of some of the underlying reasons most people find veganism unappealing. As someone who thinks from a very analytical and logical perspective most of the time, it is hard for me to accept some of the more social and emotional considerations people have surrounding veganism. I can understand these factors, but in my mind they hold absolutely no weight in the matter.

I adore food and the days centered around eating as much of it as possible are some of my favorites. So I was not immune from the initial hardships of a vegan lifestyle. That first vegan holiday will be hard. You’ll have to give it a bit more effort. Finding new recipes to try or cooking your own dishes when you’d normally have everything prepared for you. Maybe there is a particular dish that represents a lot of tender memories that you can no longer enjoy with your family.

Every year I still go out of my way to put on a good show for the holidays. I pull up pictures of past Thanksgiving meals on my phone to satisfy the many questions I’m sure to receive from friends and coworkers. What do you eat for Thanksgiving? You don’t have turkey?? Yet no one ever seems happy with my reply. I can’t tell if they are disappointed I was able to show them an immaculate meal, calling into question their own commitment to a meat filled holiday, or if they still find my meal sad and feel pity for me.

To be honest, this part of my holidays is harder than my dietary restrictions themselves. I detest playing the vegan emissary. Answering the same questions, hearing the same responses and comments year after year with a stiff smile. I feel it’s my duty to at least give a good face to veganism. Even though I know it never changes anyone’s mind in the end. I know it would be worse if I gave them a reason to believe a vegan holiday was desolate and pathetic or that vegans are hostile, angry, or unfriendly. Most people are dying to believe those things already.

However, it makes me sick to play the part of the happy, welcoming, friendly vegan. I don’t want to have to cater to people’s childish, selfish concerns about a vegan diet. In my mind what I eat or don’t get to eat for holiday meals is totally irrelevant. Sometimes I just want to shout: Animals are suffering. Animals are dying. For a fucking meal. Its absurd. It’s horrific. It’s an outrage. Why are we talking about if I miss my mom’s homemade stuffing?! Even if I ate the paper plates on Thanksgiving, it doesn’t give anyone the right to murder another being.

I know most people’s minds are not so black and white. But to me it’s the most black and white issue there is. Nothing justifies unnecessary death. We can live perfectly happy and healthy lives without meat and dairy products. That should be the end of the discussion. There is nothing else to consider. Why must I dance around this fact with everyone I meet? Even trying to nail someone down on that simply fact doesn’t work. The mind is a slippery mistress. Even though I’m sure everyone can agree that killing animals is wrong, they somehow build a defensive, exclusionary wall around the killing they participate in. And that wall is impenetrable.

So today I prepare to play the “good vegan.” I will bring delectable dishes that hardly anyone will try. I will ignore the jeers and unoriginal jokes. I will avert my gaze from the body parts my family happily fills their plates with. And I will try to remember that I was once one of them. I will try to remember that the mind is fascinating and complex. It’s defense mechanisms are strong and enduring. And 2 + 2 does not equal 4 when it comes to human beings. Killing and eating animals is horrific and cruel, my family and friends kill and eat dead animals, but my family and friends are not heartless or cruel. Some days it’s hard for me to accept that.

Hypocrisy for the Holidays

In memory of the 56 billion each year, 153.4 million each day, 6.4 million each hour, 106,546 each minute.

Carol Adams

When I started this blog, I intended to focus on veganism. I wanted to make a change in the world and help vegans in small areas of the country like me be successful. As you can see from the majority of my posts, I’ve all but abandoned that goal. I quickly grew weary of fighting what seems like a hopeless battle.

Yet I still have a small ember of that fire in my heart. I feel guilty about giving up on the billions of farmed animals that are alive and suffering at this very moment. I know that I should be fighting every day, every moment, with every breath I have. Even if it is hopeless. Even if I burn myself up in the process. Even if I lose my voice from screaming. Because who else will help them? What right do I have to live happily, to turn my head away, when they are still suffering?

When the holidays come around each year it gets more difficult to avoid these painful truths. There is a seemingly never ending stream of curious questions about what I’ll eat for Thanksgiving. Looks of mild disgust when I happily explain how yummy my tofurky always is. Looks of pity when they think about my holidays as a vegan.

I try to be a good example, give a good sales pitch. I try not to get annoyed when I have to answer the same questions for the 9th year in a row. That deep well of rage still simmers in my soul. Bitter outrage at the insanity, the inhumanity of it all. But after all these years a heavy sadness overwhelms that anger. A cold damp rain in my heart, threatening to extinguish that ember. A sadness about the ways things are, my inability to change this fucked up world, about all the lovely, innocent babies crying out somewhere in the dark.

There are very few things that can bring me to tears. Imagining the grand scale, the sheer magnitude of unimaginable suffering the human race inflicts upon these gentle beings is one of them. I spent my meditation today silently weeping for them. Saying I’m sorry, desperately wishing them some sense of peace, an end to their pain.

Maybe if I could shed these tears at the dinner table on December 25th I could finally get through to my family. Maybe I could show them the anguish I feel. The anguish they contribute to, are complacent with. The sickening absurdity of praying for peace on earth before carving up a corpse.

I know even that would not move them though. They would just think that I’m insane. Or trying to get attention. Because that’s how all vegans are seen. We are dramatic, attention seekers. We are arrogant, know-it-alls. We are despised and mocked. No one wants to confront their own hypocrisy, their own atrocities. And I can’t really blame them. It isn’t easy to live with this immense weight. This horrible knowing.

And so I prepare to share my table with death, with violence, with cruelty, with ignorance this holiday season, as I do every year. And I will swallow that pain with my red wine. I will pretend it’s all okay. I will close my heart to the bodies of my brethren laid before me with shame. Because I simply cannot bear to feel what I truly feel. I cannot bear to scream and fight anymore. And I am so ashamed. I am so sorry that I am not strong enough to save them.

My Vegan Thanksgiving

Hello everyone! Sorry it has taken me so long to post this. I realize that at this point it is almost Christmas, but the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder have really started to kick in the past couple of weeks and I just haven’t gotten the motivation to post anything lately. But I figured with another hectic holiday meal looming on the horizon I might give everyone (including myself) a little inspiration to make a few delicious cruelty-free dishes to share with the ones you love.

Here is what my plate looked like on Thanksgiving this year:

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You may note that there is a big ol’ glass of plum wine. Sometimes you gotta self-medicate to have a pleasant evening with the family.

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I made a pumpkin roll that kind of turned into a pumpkin pile. But it was still super yummy!

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I ended up making waaay too many of these dark chocolate truffles because after I made the first batch I decided they were so delicious that there weren’t enough…

There were honestly too many sweets in general though. I got a little carried away by baking pumpkin cupcakes and blueberry muffins as well. My sister even made a vegan apple pie, which was absolutely perfect. Overall, the holiday was extremely pleasant, and I look forward to preparing another massive batch of goodies for Christmas! I hope that the end of the year is treating you all well. I plan on making a few other posts I’ve been thinking about before the new year gets here. ♥

 

Surviving Holidays with Non-Vegans

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While most people welcome a chance to relax and enjoy time spent with family and friends during the holidays, for a vegan these can be trying times. I would hope that other vegans have a more pleasant and supportive experience with family members in regards to their lifestyle choices than I do. But I wanted to write some helpful words of advice and encouragement for those struggling to be understood by a less than understanding family.

When you are just starting out on your vegan voyage, the holidays can be hard enough just due to the temptations that abound. (I decided to go vegan when I returned from a vacation, and that day just so happened to be Easter Sunday.) However, once you have been vegan for a few years, the challenge instead becomes sitting at a table covered in body parts and watching those you love devour the innocent, poison their bodies, and decimate the planet. Good luck keeping your appetite at all.

The good news is that both of these issues can be ameliorated in the same way! The best thing to do to keep yourself sane and kindle some warmth in your soul during the holiday months is to find some new vegan recipes to try out. For someone like me who isn’t the most capable cook, it can sometimes be difficult to find recipes that don’t include dozens of expensive/uncommon ingredients or intricate instructions. Some of the simplest, quickest, and most delicious recipes that I have found recently are from The Minimalist Baker. This blog even has a special collection of recipes just for Thanksgiving that you can find here. (I am definitely going to recreate a few of these babies to enjoy this year!)

Creating your own buffet of vegan delicacies is a great way to eliminate the temptation of all the non-vegan dishes and desserts that will be right under your nose (and if your family is anything like mine, you may be pressured to take part in.) This is also a great opportunity to emphasize to those you love just how achievable and maintainable a vegan diet truly is. Some of my relatives regularly eat vegan alternative products just because I’ve shown them that they are so damn delicious!

Apart from the food itself, holidays as a vegan can also be difficult due to being misunderstood or even mocked by family members. Going vegan can turn a gathering that was once associated with warmth and togetherness into something dreadful and frustrating. Even after all these years my family never seems to get tired of poking fun at the vegans. (I’m lucky enough to have a vegan sister to share the harassment with.)

I don’t believe my relatives intend to be hurtful, but this just further emphasizes their lack of understanding. Somehow they still don’t comprehend how important this aspect of my life is to me. It makes me feel as if they haven’t even heard any of the things I’ve said on the matter. I truly hope that other’s have a more positive experience with this than I have, but I know there are certainly vegans out there that know this struggle all too well.

The best advice that I can give is to persevere.

It is highly unlikely you are going to convert anyone to a vegan lifestyle during a holiday feast or find anything other than aggressive opposition to your attempts for that matter. I have learned to just try my hardest to represent a happy, healthy, vegan lifestyle the best that I can, but not to press the issue too violently. I answer any questions openly and honestly. I try to stay positive and not let my disappointment, frustration, and anger get the best of me. I avoid letting myself get sucked into the negative spiral within my mind that any outright opposition to veganism tends to initiate in me. I try to keep my heart open and focus my mind on all that I am grateful for, because there is so much. I also try to think of who I was before going vegan and try to empathize with my unfortunate family members who still haven’t made the connection and are lost in the fog of carnism.

Finally, I would just like to extend an invitation to any vegans out there that need emotional support and encouragement for the upcoming months. Please feel free to contact me. I would be more than happy to help in anyway that I can. You are strong. You are compassionate. You can get through this.

Good luck, dear ones. ♥