When I did not roast a turkey on Thanksgiving, there was massive discontent in my family. They ordered pizza for supper.
I roasted a turkey on Christmas.
Turkey is a tradition. Without turkey, there is no holiday. I can deprive them of gifts (no gift-giving this year) and a tree, but there must be a turkey.
I became a vegetarian in September.
But being a carnivore is the American way of life.
Americans eat 270.7 pounds of meat per person a year, according to NPR–more than anyone in the world except Luxembourgers. (And why Luxembourg I can’t tell you.)
Hormone-and-antibiotic-fed-and-shot-up meat and poultry. Mm, mmm. Delectable!
Being an American meat-eater can be hard on the planet. Raising livestock has an adverse impact on the environment. Not only does it require more land, water, and energy than plants, but animal waste pollutes the air and water.
I ate some turkey on Christmas.
It was vaguely nauseating.
It was the chemical taste that turned me against meat and poultry. (You don’t want to know what they’re feeding them.) Suddenly I couldn’t eat confined-animal-facility-raised meat.
It has been a good health decision. My blood pressure (always very low) has dropped 10 points, my cholesterol is finally normal, and I am in excellent physical condition. (Fat is not necessarily unfit: it depends on diet and exercise.)
The holiday is over.
And I will not deal with the leftovers. I don’t like to handle meat.
I refused to make the turkey sandwiches.
I refused to make the turkey noodle casserole.
And when I gave instructions for the turkey noodle casserole, “Someone” didn’t speak to me all night.
The issue isn’t exactly turkey on the holidays. It is vegetarianism. Although most know vegetarianism is better for the planet, meat-eaters consider it a personal attack on themselves.
Dining out isn’t a problem. Most restaurants have vegetarian selections, though not always good ones. (Fast food, for instance: McDonald’s has better options than Wendy’s.)
Dining at friends’ homes can be difficult.
You are invited to someone’s house for dinner. Either your vegetarianism hasn’t registered, or they don’ think it’s worth bothering about, so they serve you pot roast.
You (a) explain that you are a vegetarian and create a huge scene because your hostess then becomes super-dramatic, or (b) eat the potatoes and carrots and any salad you can find on the table.
“Would you like more beef?” your hostess says.
My cousin has a theory about this. “They hate you because you’re a bohemian bicyclist.”
“Perhaps if I were a thin bohemian bicyclist?”
“They wouldn’t like that, either.”
And on that happy note, here is a vegetarian meal for New Year’s Eve that everyone likes, Mac, Chili, and Cheese from Mollie Katzen’s The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation.