As a vegan, it’s hard not to feel heavy-hearted around Thanksgiving time. Some of us try and simply avoid thinking about the impending massacre, preferring to ignore it altogether, and some use the date as an opportunity to try and shine a little light on the reality of what Thanksgiving means for those whose bodies are to become centerpieces on the tables of over 45 million American homes.
Anyone familiar with animal sanctuary operations can confirm that turkeys are sensitive, social beings who nurture and protect their young and have a rich inner experience of life that is unique to each individual. Even when they are stressed and confined in concentration camps (whether “free-range” or otherwise), they have an amazing will to live, as do all sentient beings.
Following is a collection of some of our favorite Thanksgiving links; some from our own website, and some from the awe-inspiring work of BeFairBeVegan’s Joanna Lucas. We hope our readers will use them to make their own Thanksgiving experience more meaningful, and hopefully to share with others the truth about who turkeys could be to us, if we would only open our hearts to them: fellow sentients with a wealth of remarkable qualities to be thankful for.
Here in Gentle World, the only reminder of the upcoming holiday is the occasional sound of free-living turkeys, chatting among themselves as they wander by our property during their meanderings around the neighborhood that surrounds us… The extraordinary sounds issuing forth from throats belonging to birds beyond my scope of vision translate inside my heart into feelings of delight in response, for which I am filled with gratitude. I’ve said in previous Novembers that to be blessed with a sighting of a turkey free in nature is all the Thanksgiving I need, but I have learned this year that I’m almost as content to settle for hearing one of their voices. I am officially thankful.
Increasingly, as consumers are becoming more aware of the extreme cruelty of animal farming, free-range, organic and ‘natural’ animal products are gaining popularity. What many people don’t realize, however, is that animals raised under these labels frequently suffer through much of the same torment as those in standard factory farming operations.
If I had to use only one word to describe turkeys it would be “enthusiasm”. Not euphoria, not excitement. Enthusiasm, straight from the root of the word: “en theo”, “with god”. I haven’t met anyone who is more connected with the throbbing grace of every living heartbeat, and more intent on communicating this awareness than turkeys are. And they communicate it constantly, contagiously, and with the touching certainty that they are heard and understood…
Melvin has been strutting up and down the hallway since dawn… After a while, he turns around slowly, laboriously, toilsomely, and drags himself back to the kitchen, heaving, and wheezing and staggering on gouty legs, then embarks again on the arduous, 20 step trek to the front door, parading in full celebration gear, big as a carnival float and as jubilantly bedecked as one… It’s Sunday. At least that’s what our calendars say – Sunday, the cusp of a new week – but, to Melvin, in Melvin’s sense of time, it’s something else, something brighter and luckier.
Some find it tremendously comforting and inspiring to attend a celebration of veganism during the holiday season. Being surrounded by other vegans, or simply attending a 100% vegan event can be a healing experience, allowing us to envision a world where holiday meals are transformed into a true celebration of peace and gratitude, as we replace traditional fare with clean, wholesome foods that are free from violence and incredibly delicious. See our ideas below for a veritable vegan banquet!
Whatever vegan dishes you enjoy, or even if you decide to fast in protest, remember that there is still much to be thankful for. As expressed so eloquently in the writing above, we agree with the sentiment of Joanna Lucas when she acknowledges “the growing number of hearts who refuse to ignore this atrocity, refuse to support it, refuse to perpetuate it, and certainly, refuse to give thanks for it.”
The words of Gentle World’s co-founder Sun come to mind, from her 2013 piece Why I Love Vegans:
“How can any lover of justice not love anyone who has the integrity to stand with the tiny minority willing to free the lowliest of slaves, considered by the vast majority so insignificant as to be expendable?” Read more
For a truly delicious vegan Thanksgiving meal, it’s easy to replicate traditional dishes. There’s also great enjoyment to be found in incorporating non-traditional, festive holiday recipes to add some originality to the Thanksgiving table… With a little flexibility and imagination, creating a delicious spread can be a heartwarming reminder of how far we’ve come from the archaic practices of yesteryear, and allow us to invite this seasonal holiday into the modern era, where the abundance of beautiful, nourishing plant foods are a true cause for celebration. Read more
This holiday, why not dress up your table with some festive delights that have nothing to do with the traditional menu? As long as the foods are beautiful and delicious, who’s to say what a holiday table should contain? Read more