How not to BE the Thanksgiving Turkey

A friend of mine, for whatever reason, is having a vegan Thanksgiving. She told me that traditionally, a longstanding girlhood friend of hers has celebrated Thanksgiving with her and her family, but when the friend heard it was going to be vegan, she decided to do something else. It wasn’t one of those “oh do you think maybe she’s mad at me?” sort of deals. This friend told her straight up, “OK if you are doing vegan you can count me out.”

What is up with that? First of all, I was always taught that it is rude to ask anyone who is offering to feed you what’s on the menu. It is even ruder to announce, “Oh brussell sprouts? No thanks I’ll go to McDonald’s.” If you have a food allergy or a religious practice that limits your dietary choices, it is OK to inform your host, as in, “I have gluten intolerance so I am unable to eat bread or pasta or any product containing wheat.” On the host side, I was always taught that if you are having someone for the first time, it is considered gracious to ask them if they have any dietary restrictions, and accommodate those. If your host knows about your restrictions and still serve you a meal consisting entirely of food that you will not be able to eat, that is rudeness on their part. Food comes in an amazing variety. Surely any host trying to create a balanced and satisfying dinner for guests will offer a number of choices of dish. People can then help themselves to the dishes that they both like and are able to eat. If there’s any uncertainty about what something is, the host might say something like, “those are bacon bits for the salad for those who want them,” to alert their Islamic guest not to eat it.

I’m forever astounded at the number of people who get hot under the collar and feel it’s perfectly OK to rant if asked to forgo meat for just ONE MEAL! If I were to spout off when invited to a hot dog barbecue about how toxic hot dogs are and how much I hate them and how terrible it is to eat them, I would be considered rude. So what do I do? If I like the people, I accept the invitation, and I just eat the potato salad and skip the hot dogs and don’t say anything.

Come on people! It’s not like vegans or vegetarians eat boiled lumps of charcoal or slimy seaweed or dogs. And there is no medical condition I’ve ever heard of that requires a person to eat exclusively large slabs of a dead animal three times a day. Most vegetarian/vegan fare prepared in USA would be familiar to the average USA citizen: grains and potatoes, beans and nuts, mushrooms, salads, vegetables that you’ve seen before, fruits, and a dizzying array of delicious desserts. Any vegetarian worth their salt knows how to use high protein ingredients such as tofu or seitan. Seitan in particular can pass for meat if that’s what the cook is trying to do. There are some vegetarian meals where you wouldn’t even realize they were vegetarian unless someone told you. And heavens to Betsy there might be some unfamiliar food, combination, or method of preparation, and what is more, you might actually LIKE it! And if you really HAVE to have meat, pack a turkey sandwich in a cooler in your car, make a pretext of going out to get something, and slip out and nosh on it.

Having a meal with others is about spending time together and sharing. It’s not really about the food.

1,720 Responses to “How not to BE the Thanksgiving Turkey”

  • This “friend” must not be very adventurous with their food gobbling, or they have an abnormal desire for meat. I do think it is quite rude, especially since it was customary to have been part of this family’s celebration. Although I assume my friends will be brutally blunt with me (that’s what true friends are for), there is a time when being too straightforward can be hurtful and/or disrespectful. If this “friend” didn’t want a vegan meal, she should have politely declined, or offered to bring her own desired dish to the table to share.

  • It’s rude because the friend was putting her expectation of getting turkey at Tgiving as more important than the friendship and letting her know it, and that’s hurtful.

    My whole family sans eldest daughter (who is going with her S.O.) is going to have Tgiving with them. My sons don’t know these folks very well, so they could have been forgiven for opting out when they heard it was gonna be vegan. As a matter fact both of them are going with us — they are hoping to clean our hosts out at poker.

    Suppose Mel Gibson invited you to his mansion to have eels or something gross? You’d go because you want to meet Mel Gibson, who cares what he’s serving?

    colleens last blog post..How not to BE the Thanksgiving Turkey

  • Ouch, that must have hurt. I can understand the friend’s reaction though, but not how she acted on it. For a lot of people Thanksgiving and/or Christmas is associated with the turkey, and all the typical sides. Yeah of course it’s about who you spend it with, but there’s sentimentality associated with those specific foods. I’d LOVE to be invited for a vegan meal, but if it was Thanksgiving I’d probably pass for another day. There are too many fond memories of the traditional meal for me, and I look forward to eating it all year long.

    But if it was a friend I normally celebrate with, I’d definitely still go and just make my own traditional meal on a different day. Maybe she just had the emotional gut reaction to hearing “vegan Thanksgiving meal”, but then blurted it out before thinking how it rude it would come across. Hope the day still went well for your friend and she enjoyed her vegan Thanksgiving.

    Dianas last blog post..Zesty Cranberry Sauce