Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Holidays

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.

Elizabeth T.
Tennessee

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