Vegans and vegetarians celebrate Thanksgiving

Khadija Ahmed, Staff Writer

Thanksgiving is customarily associated with turkey and has been for centuries on end, dating back to 1621 during which colonist William Bradford noted in his journal of others hunting wild turkeys in autumn of that year. But what does this mean for vegetarians who don’t eat animals, and vegans who don’t eat animal products at all?

Senior Anna Vogus, a vegetarian for four years and counting, lists mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, bread, and peas as her favorite Thanksgiving foods. Vogus decided to become vegetarian because it’s considered a healthier lifestyle and because of the inhumane treatment of animals. “I think [vegetarianism] has really benefited my life. When I first switched, I noticed that I had a lot more energy than usual and I’m just healthier in general now,” said Vogus. Junior Hansol Yoon has been vegan for about a year now, and enjoys mashed potatoes with vegan butter and any plant-based milk during Thanksgiving. As for the reason she became vegan, “I love animals and I believe that animals should be your friends, not your food. I also want to become a vet after high school and college.”

Junior Maisha Maliha was vegan for almost a year. “It’s good for the environment, and preserving our environment for all the generations to come is really important,” she reasoned. Maliha is no longer vegan because when she fasted during the month of Ramadan, it was difficult to practice veganism. “I had to go long hours without eating, and [for iftar] my family usually made dishes containing meat and eggs so it was really hard to uphold a vegan diet,” she explained.

Yoon suggested vegan alternatives that can be put to use this Thanksgiving. She spoke of veggie burger patties and in fact, Tropical Café offers a vegan meat alternative. During Maliha’s time as a vegan, she enjoyed Gardein’s meatless “chick’n tenders” and “mandarin orange crispy chick’n”. Yoon also mentioned ice cream containing milk alternatives such as coconut milk, almond milk, or cashew milk which can be found in many nearby grocery stores. Maliha recommends So Delicious, a brand that makes soy milk and coconut milk ice cream among other dairy free products. Grocery store Trader Joe’s currently offers countless vegan Thanksgiving options such as turkey-less stuffed roast with gravy, riced cauliflower stuffing, sweet potato and marshmallow pie mix, and almond nog. Tofu (bean curd), seitan (wheat gluten), and vegetables are also eaten by vegetarians and vegans in place of traditional turkey this Thanksgiving. Vogus mentioned that tofu can be easily substituted into many Chinese and Thai meals. “I always thought tofu looked gross but once I tried it, it wasn’t that bad,” recounted Maliha.

Maliha and Yoon find vegan recipes online, and Vogus also finds vegetarian recipes online using Pinterest. However, being the only vegetarian in her family, Vogus sometimes just eats everything but the meat from her family’s usual dinner. Maliha or her sister cooked vegan dishes, and Yoon makes them herself. Vogus usually cooks vegetarian dishes with the help of her mom. “My family is really supportive and they help me make sure that I have plenty of foods that I like and will eat during Thanksgiving,” she praised. Yoon said she doesn’t really experience negative feelings regarding her inability to eat some Thanksgiving dishes.

Despite the diet becoming increasingly popular, vegans still face setbacks. “There’s a lot of stigma surrounding veganism, and you have to careful when eating out,” described Maliha. Yoon pointed out that there are less sources of nutrients, and that vegan products are expensive. Regardless, “[Veganism] took the guilt of consuming animal products off of my shoulders and made me feel a lot better about myself. Also, I have been eating a lot healthier,” maintained Yoon.