I love holidays! But there is one holiday that can be a little rougher than the rest for us veggies. It's called Thanksgiving. You may have heard of it ... that holiday where everyone sits around a table carving up a turkey. Traditionally we're supposed to take the day to be thankful for what we have and spend the day with the people we love most. Sounds beautiful, right? So what's a vegetarian to do when most tables in America will have a giant stuffed turkey in the middle? Well, you make your host aware and hope for the best in most cases.
A vegetarian since I was 8, I have a lot of experience being uncomfortable at a dinner table full of meat. I know families can't change all their traditions for a lone vegetarian, but here are a few tips to make the day a little less awkward.
1. Be aware. If you are hosting the big holiday, make sure to ask all of your guests if they have any dietary restrictions. This should also include asking about any food allergies.
2. Know that a vegetarian will be feasting at your table for Thanksgiving? They will most likely be more than willing to bring something to share. Don't be afraid to ask! Ask them to bring their favorite vegetarian dish to share and incorporate it into the menu. How cool is that?!
3. Please, please, please have more than one item on the table for them to eat! No vegetarian survives on green beans alone as a meal...
4. Be open to changing some of your recipes. If you use two sticks of butter in your mashed potatoes, maybe you could use a butter substitute this year?
5. Educate yourself. Just because things look vegetarian, sometimes they are not .... those beautiful sweet potatoes with the marshmallows on top? Not veggie. Make sure you turn all of those boxes and cans over and read the ingredients! Some non-veggie ingredients to be on the look out for: gelatin (often found in marshmallows, some gravies and cranberry sauce), Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth and most boxed stuffing. And yes, if something has "just a little bit" in it, it's still not vegetarian!
6. Please don't make the vegetarian feel like an outcast in your home. It's all in the delivery. No need to make a big scene announcing to the entire party what is and is not vegetarian. I was at a dinner party once where the host stood up to make a speech, and she proceeded to announce to the entire party all the trouble she went to in order to make everything meet my dietary restrictions ... I was mortified! Instead, quietly pull your vegetarian guest aside and explain to him or her what is vegetarian on the table.
If you're the visiting vegetarian, thank your hosts for all of their efforts! Hosting a vegetarian can be stressful!
Even if you are not hosting a vegetarian this Thanksgiving, why not have an all-vegetarian meal? Vegetarian is very chic after all!
And if you are interested in adopting a turkey this year for Thanksgiving, you can find more information at Adopt a Turkey, a project of Farm Sanctuary.
Leslie Sarna shares her farm-to-stylish-table recipes daily on her website, lesliesarna.com, in live appearances, on TV and around the Web.
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