By Kristin Miller
This Thursday, as we travel home from campus and enjoy a break from our textbooks, many of us will partake in one particular tradition as American as they come.
The iconic image of a family seated around a table laden with a bountiful array of home-cooked food, all crowned by a steaming, golden-brown turkey fresh from the oven is a sight we know and cherish.
Thanksgiving, or as I like to think of it: the absolute worst time of year to be vegetarian.
If our country had an official holiday of meat, this would be it. As a fairly newly-minted veggie-inclined individual, this will be only my second Thanksgiving opting out of the main course.
This year, I anticipate the same expressions of horror and questions of “Are you sure? Are you really sure?” as I pass the turkey tray to the person beside me without taking any for myself.
It’s as awkward for me as it is for my uber-traditional, meat-and-potatoes family, who I know must be imagining what type of hard-core PETA-judgment I’m casting upon them as they go back for seconds and thirds.
I’m here to say: it’s ok.
Believe me, I spent the first 20 years of my life chowing right down with everyone else. I remember the delight of scoring a prime piece of dark meat. I’ve known the joy of holiday leftovers made into turkey soup, or turkey sandwiches smothered in gravy. I understand the turkey-mania.
I will also admit Thanksgiving is, personally, the most difficult time to stick to my guns and lay off the poultry. I’ve got my reasons for the choice I made to give up meat, but this isn’t the time nor place to discuss them.
No, contrary to what you might expect, I’m not going to try to convert you, you little carnivore.
I would, however, like to give you some advice. If you do find yourself seated next to a vegetarian as you gather around the dining room table this holiday season, here are few dos and don’ts for how you might want to handle the situation:
DON’T ask us if we’d like some tofurky. Tofurky is gross. It will always be gross.
DO let us refuse meat (or egg and dairy-containing dishes if we’re vegan) without comment. We know you love meat; you know we don’t love meat. Live and let live.
DON’T judge us if we go for the gravy. Yes, we know it’s essentially just thickened meat juice, as a fellow vegetarian and friend of mine once put it. It’s also delicious.
DO let us have first dibs on the side dishes. Or the pie. On second thought, definitely the pie.
DON’T wave turkey in our faces like some weird game of meat keep-away.
DO talk about the presidential pardon of the turkey. We like that.
DON’T laugh (too hard) when grandma tells us how truly concerned she is for our health and well-being.
DO let us know you’re thankful for our company this holiday. Even if you say so while sinking your teeth into a steaming turkey drumstick half the size of your face, we’ll be glad to hear it.
Because, after all, isn’t that what Thanksgiving’s all about?