Compassionate Connections: Going Cold Turkey for Thanksgiving. A Compassion Champs exclusive by Aliya Traficante

Nov 22, 2017

Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family. A time to reflect, give thanks, and enjoy all foods associated with the holiday – however the latter can prove to be a challenge if you are a vegan, especially if this is the first time celebrating the holidays on a plant-based diet. More than likely you will face criticism, be drilled with questions, and grimace your way through tofurky jokes. So here to help are a few responses you can use when responding to your loved ones’ questions about eating a plant based diet. However, before we get into it, it is important to note that it is essential to come across such a discussion with compassion and understanding to your family members. That is what being vegan is all about, after all. Becoming confrontational is not going benefit anyone and will ultimately close off minds from understanding. Remember, there was a time when you were in their shoes. So, take a deep breath, and answer (for the millionth time) “But where do you get your protein?” with a smile on your face and the notion you are doing your part to contribute to the goal of showing all living things compassion. 

When they ask: “But it is tradition. What is Thanksgiving without turkey?”

You say: Traditions change. Let’s embrace a tradition that truly embodies the spirit of the holiday season – Veganism promotes making compassionate decisions on behalf of those that can’t and what shows holiday spirit more than saying “no” to unnecessary cruelty.

Side note: When I hear this statement, “Fiddler on the Roof” always comes to mind, especially the song “Tradition”. The film explores the idea of traditions changing with each generation, and similar to the movie (even in this day-and-age) it takes a bit to embrace these changes. But where would we be today without change? Still getting married off via matchmakers, that’s what.

When they ask: “Don’t you miss the taste of meat?”

You say: Perhaps, but I don’t miss contributing to a horrific system that causes so much suffering while contributing to negative climate and health effects. For me, the taste of meat is not worth the cost of getting it to my plate. Plus, nowadays, there are so many options for those on a plant based diet that give me the nutrition I need and taste great!

When they ask: “Why don’t you just have some [enter: non-vegan food]? It is just one day out of the whole year!”

You say: I do not see eating turkey, or any form of meat/dairy, any different than eating, let say, a dog. I understand that you may not have the same view as me, but personally, it is very traumatizing. Why should some animals be shown love and compassion while others are slaughtered and eaten? Why do they deserve less than decent treatment?

When they say: “But it is organic/free range/local!”

You say: While I appreciate the fact that the animals were perhaps raised in a more ideal environment/manner, it does not change the fact that they still smelled and sensed others before them being slaughtered, thus causing fear and releasing stress hormones that you are now consuming. It does not change my opinion that all animals should be treated with the same amount of love and compassion. It is against my morals.

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