My Meatless Thanksgiving

You don’t have to apologize for passing the meat.

This piece is part of a month-long Wanderlust and YOGANONYMOUS series about alternative ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. How do you celebrate the holidays yogi-style?

Some people have a noble-sounding story about how they arrived at vegetarianism. They talk about the profound health benefits of a diet focused on plant-based protein. They explain the ethics involved—how a meatless lifestyle feels like the most conscientious and humane path. They cite statistics on environmentalism, the energy used for animal protein production, and the toxic waste that’s involved.

Admittedly, those are all solid reasons, but they weren’t my reasons. I chose to become a vegetarian because the taste of beef has always slightly sickened me—even as a kid.

As a child, I’d ask my mom what kind of “animal” we were eating as she sliced steaming portions of pot roast at the family table. I’d make a sour-grapes face and promptly be chastised for my poor manners. Eating beef didn’t feel quite right then, and after many years of preparing chicken, I began to loath poultry too. If I think about it now, the ethical reasons do make sense to me, and the health reasons are a huge draw too. But honestly, I chose vegetarianism because it just felt right for me.

So What’s a Vegetarian to Do on Turkey Day?

On my first vegetarian Thanksgiving, letting my family know I would not be bingeing on the bird was no big deal. I’m sure each of them thought: “More for me!” And given the antics I pulled as a child, they probably expected me to choose the path I did. However, it’s not so simple when I’m a guest at a party, or at another family’s celebration. It can be a bit awkward being that one guest at a turkey-themed table who’s passing the meat. People ask why, and it’s kind of tough to explain my disdain without apologizing.

But really, why should I? If you’re meatless like me, here are some good things to keep in mind before you head to the table with a carnivorous crowd.

  1. Your food choices are all your own. Never feel guilty about who you are and the path you’re on.
  2. When you apologize for passing the turkey, you accept blame… Don’t do it!
  3. There’s no need to explain your vegetarian lifestyle, and the Thanksgiving table is really no place for that conversation anyway. The best answer I’ve found to probing questions is this: I prefer to eat a meat-free diet because it just suits me.  

When it comes to vegetarianism, I believe the biggest reason for opposition from the other side is the level of judgement that people assume you’ve reserved. They fancy me a tree-hugging hippie with an arrogant smirk and a tiara to match my superior status. But it just ain’t so. And what better time than Thanksgiving Day to set an awesome example of acceptance!

Behind the basted bird and all its trimmings, Thanksgiving is a time to honor one another, to welcome our differences, and to be grateful for the diverse world in which we live. You can do so and still pass on the meat. 

rica lewisRica Lewis is a freelance writer and marketer who is at her best when on the mat or at the keyboard. Her website is more about self love and fearless living than twisting and posing.