Published in The DePaulia: Thursday, November 10, 2011
There’s that awkward moment when you’ve come home for a holiday break and your mom slaps a giant turkey leg on your plate while telling you that you’ve gotten too skinny.
Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away, a time to be thankful for the privileges received and experienced daily. For some, this is also a time to over-indulge in a feast of turkey, ham and the like, but what if you’re vegan?
There are a growing number of vegan-conscious individuals. According to a 2008 study done by Vegetarian Times, 7.3 million Americans are vegetarian, and one million of those individuals are vegan. To clarify, a vegetarian-conscious individual doesn’t eat meat while a vegan does not eat any product that is made from an animal. Either way, is not always the easiest transition to make, especially when you’ve just started out.
Here are a few tips from local vegans and vegetarians on how to stick to your commitment without upsetting your parents this holiday season:
Substitute Ingredients. Taylor Casey, 26, has been a vegan for three years and finds that it is easier to just substitute ingredients when needed. “A lot of the time I’ll tell people I’m going to cook and they immediately feel like it’s going to be gross, but when it’s finished they can barely tell the difference,” Casey said. “Sometimes I won’t even tell my boyfriend that I’ve substituted just to see his reaction on how great it tastes.”
There are many everyday ingredients that can be “veganized.” For example, vegan butter, soy milk and vegan cheese are all options that many individuals don’t realize are available to their use.
Bring A Dish. Yinka Francois, 32, knows the hard task of being invited to a dinner party and not being able to eat anything provided. “It’s like going to a club and you forgot your I.D., everyone else can go have fun except for you,” Francois said. “I’ve learned to just bring a side dish just in case there aren’t any vegan-friendly dishes on the table.”
There’s nothing wrong with bringing food to an event when you’ve notified the host. The key here is to provide a complementary dish that won’t steal the spotlight from the main course. Also, giving other guests information on how the food was prepared could be a great conversation piece for those that may be interested in the vegan/vegetarian journey.
The Turkey Dilemma. Kenneth Sanders, 22, has struggled with sticking to his commitment because his family is huge on meat and dairy products, especially during holidays. “I’m always trying to convince my mom to make a tofurkey for Thanksgiving,” Sanders said. “I end up just piling on the veggies and being stared at by the rest of the family.”
We all know that a good centerpiece makes for a great presentation, but what if turkey just isn’t making the cut this season? Some may be a little uncomfortable with the thought of no turkey this year, but there’s nothing wrong with having a duo-centerpiece. Have the turkey on the table, but vegan sausage paired with rice and beans could also give your guests an experience worth talking about.
Whether you’re a carnivore, vegetarian or vegan, what is important this holiday season is that everyone is able to enjoy family company and a home-cooked meal. Try to be daring and inspire your guests, you never know what conversations and memories could be made this year.
HELPFUL VEGAN INFO:
Table of Substitutions
*Butter-Vegan Buttery Spread, Earth Balance brand
*Eggs-Soy Yogurt or Silken Tofu
Vegan/Vegetarian Stores in Chicago
*Kramer’s Health Foods
*Karyn’s On Green
*Green Grocer Chicago
*Bonne Sante Health Foods
Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurants in Chicago
*I Dream of Falafel
*Pick Me Up Café
*7.3 million Americans are vegetarian
*22.8 million follow a vegetarian inclined diet
*11.8 million are interested in a vegetarian diet
*59 percent are female/ 41 percent are male
***study released by Vegetarian Times