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.
After 20 years of vegetarianism, my mother-in-law didn’t invite us out to dinner when my brother-in-law and his wife came to NY to visit. She told our aunt, “What would they eat?” Even writing this now months later, my head is ready to blow off. I love telling this story because no one can believe it.
Go Kat! You stick with it and don’t touch the turkey! I’ve been vegetarian since I was 18 (so – a long time!) and I could never go back. It’s better for you, better for the environment and there’s no cruelty involved – so it’s a no brainer really. Fortunately, OH is also vegetarian….
Cynthia, I love the “What would they eat?” story. I am laughing, because I can so see this happening. There’s something about vegetarianism: it annoys people.
Karen, I didn’t hear a word of annoyance about any of this till the holidays, and now I’m learning that meat and poultry are much missed. Heavens, they’re eating pasta, pizza, all the stuff they usually eat… They can make a turkey sandwich if they want one.:)
Several years ago, while living in DC., I went to consult this neighborhood doctor who was a very elderly Korean man. “Elderly” is an understatement, this guy looked as if he could have been a hundred! Anyway, Dr. Cho, after some blood work which determined that I was not diabetic which was my reason for consulting him in the first place, then asked me if I ate meat. “That is your problem,” he said. “You are several pounds overweight is all and this can be easily corrected. For the next two weeks I want you to eat nothing but vegetables and then I want you to exercise by walking for one half hour after eating lunch.” “Remember this,” he went on to say, “if it comes out of the ground or off a tree, there is no fat! After that come back and see me.” I did as he advised and two weeks later I had dropped twelve pounds!
I understand your experiencing feeling slightly nauseated, Ms Mirabile, by eating a bit of turkey at Christmas. For literally months after being on Dr. Cho’s regimen, I couldn’t look at the meat case in a supermarket without “feeling vaguely nauseous.”
Joel, good for you! Doctors do love vegetarianism and are happy with the results, but they don’t dare say anything to most their patients: it could start a revolution! People don’t like to hear it. I felt sick every time I ate meat, and wasn’t even thinking of how good vegetarianism would be, but the health benefits of giving it up are obvious in a very short time.
After so many Christmas cookies, though, I’d better not lecture anybody. I will not have anything to do with the pounds and pounds of leftover turkey, though. 🙂