Each Thanksgiving, which we refer to as “ThanksLiving,” we have the power to change old habits by leaving animals off the table. Whether you’re looking to improve your health, care about our environment, or oppose animal cruelty, the holidays are the perfect time to celebrate over a delicious, plant-based meal. We hope you’ll find something here to help create new lifelong traditions for your friends and family to cherish. Looking for more? Download a FREE copy of More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality (Lantern Books) by Karen Davis, Ph.D. of United Poultry Concerns (PDF download).
Expanding Our Circle of Compassion
The holiday season reminds us that we all share the values of kindness, compassion, and non-violence as we aspire to better align our values with our actions. We tend to be more generous, more forgiving, more compassionate. Let’s include animals as benefactors of these actions by expanding our circle of compassion.
Most people want to be kind to animals, protect our environment, and share the world with others. So it’s no surprise that an increasing number are making vegan choices.
Like the dogs and cats who share our homes, farmed animals are unique individuals with unique personalities. They share the ability to experience emotions like joy, playfulness, and affection, but also sadness, fear, and pain.
Sadly, the holiday season is no cause for celebration for the millions of turkeys and other animals killed for food. They spend their entire lives crammed in windowless sheds filled with toxic fumes and have their throats cut while still conscious.
You will create new traditions and fulfill your sense of compassion when you leave cruelty off the table.
Staying Connected to Loved Ones
Holidays are notoriously stressful. Introducing fresh ideas and new foods into gatherings that are steeped in tradition can be a recipe for frustration. People new to the vegan lifestyle may find it difficult to explain their thoughts and feelings about food choices, while families and friends hosting gatherings might feel pressured to adjust their annual dinners.
However, skipping family gatherings altogether can deny you the opportunity to visit with relatives and to bring some new dietary and ethical insights to the table.
Fortunately holiday meal times don’t need to be uncomfortable – they should be an enjoyable and positive experience for everyone involved.
You’ll be in great company and a great role model when you are patient, stay positive, answer questions, share delicious vegan food, and keep in mind the tips on this website.
Tips for a Joyful Meal
If you’re going to be a guest at the table, politely let your hosts know in advance that you don’t consume animal products, as you thank them for the invitation. You can bring a dish or two, or help in the kitchen to ease the stress your hosts may feel cooking new recipes.
Side dishes such as stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, vegetables, and breads are easily made vegan (if they’re not already). For a main dish consider stuffed squash, pot pie, or a vegan “turkey” roast. Dessert favorites include pumpkin pie with dairy-free whipped cream and a cup of vegan nog.
During dinner, share uplifting stories, perhaps involving animals, to keep the mood light while planting seeds of compassion. You don’t have to try to convince your entire family to go vegan during mealtime. The message might be better received on a different occasion or at least saved for after dinner in a one-on-one setting. Consider leaving some literature around for others who may have interest.
Holidays may be a tempting time to slip up and revert to eating animal products. If you stumble, remember that every meal is an opportunity for a fresh vegan start.
Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to share a compassionate meal with friends and family, but also with other vegans looking for a cruelty-free celebration.
Here's how you can make a cruelty-free holiday happen
- Host and promote a vegan potluck Thanksgiving meal in your home or a local shared space.
- Ask one of your favorite vegan-friendly restaurants to host a vegan Thanksgiving dinner and help them with promotion, decorations, and musical entertainment
- Create a Facebook event and invite your friends and family, you can also email us and we can help promote
- Or, if you’re not up for organizing, use Meetup or Facebook to find vegan events in your community