I see a lot of people on the internet compromising
their beliefs during the holidays in order to avoid
hurting family members. While I can understand that
familial concern lies behind their compromises, I think
it's misplaced. After all, why should it be the vegan
who compromises? If a vegan serves meat, she is doing
something that she knows in her heart is wrong. It's
tantamount to expecting an orthodox Jew to serve pork
or a devout Christian to attend a Satanic service. If,
on the other hand, a vegan's mom chooses not to serve
meat, or tells you she's happy to skip the turkey on
Thanksgiving, she's only annoying other guests who might
have expected to be able to consume a dead bird -- she
has not sold her soul, and neither has she asked you
to sell yours. I also think that by compromising, we
indicate to others by our actions that we are not really
serious. And only if our beliefs seem constant and unwavering
will we be taken seriously by our family members.
I have, in my late 30s, reached the point where I will
no longer compromise. I've been vegetarian for 15 years
and vegan for 3, and during those 15 years I have had
to watch many bird carcasses torn apart before my eyes.
Three years ago I decided that I'd had enough, and my
husband and I made the decision to no longer attend
holidays at my father's house. Although most of the
people who assemble there (my step brother's and my
brother's families, as well as my husband and myself)
are either vegetarian or close to it, my stepmother
insists on serving a turkey or a ham or both. Very little
of it gets eaten. For years we just brought our own
entree, with plenty of extra so others could try it,
but I found myself becoming depressed at the thought
of going there and watching the annual dissection.
I now try to drop by the day before, or early in the
morning, on Thanksgiving and Christmas. We exchange
gifts, visit, etc. with no food in the picture. I think
my father is sorry about this situation, as am I, but
he understands why I feel this way and yet remains unwilling
to try to make changes in the holiday fare. I've considered
inviting everyone to my house, where they would have
to eat what I serve, but I don't have room to invite
the whole crew for holiday dinners.
This year my husband's brother and his wife visited
us from another state. They are moving in the direction
of vegetarianism and were excited to give Tofurkey a
try (they loved it and are planning to get one for Christmas).
It was nice to have a quiet, peaceful holiday with no
direct involvement in the death of a large, interesting,
and sapient bird, and I think our guests thought so,
too. It's certainly a step in the right direction.
e x t e s s a y -
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