A Kinder Thanksgiving

Posted by Matthew Liebman, ALDF Staff Attorney on November 23, 2009

This Thursday is Thanksgiving. As a politically progressive vegan, I have a lot of mixed feelings about the holiday. Obviously, Thanksgiving is hell for turkeys, 45 million of whom are killed each year for Thanksgiving alone (getting a “free-range” turkey is no better). The holiday is also stained with the colonial history of violence against indigenous peoples, whose kindness to European “settlers” was repaid with centuries of genocide. There is much valuable discussion over how vegans and progressives should celebrate Thanksgiving (or whether we should celebrate it at all).

I respect those who see Thanksgiving as a time for mourning and reflection on this country’s colonial legacy and on the way it treats animals raised for food. At the same time, I also respect those who wish to reappropriate Thanksgiving by bringing it in line with our progressive values, as they pertain both to animals and indigenous peoples. I believe it is worthwhile to take time out to recognize our privileges (and to consider how we came by those privileges), to appreciate our families and friends, and to savor food and companionship in ways that we are often too busy to indulge.  

Food is invested with all sorts of cultural meaning, which is why sharing food in the context of celebration is immensely powerful. Sharing vegan food highlights our mutual commitments to living in accord with our ethics. To that end, I’ll be spending this Thursday having an all-vegan feast with my friends from ALDF.  

Here’s a vegan pumpkin pie recipe from my friends Zack and Lenora and a vegan mac ‘n’ cheese recipe from the New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook (a classic, buy it here). Please feel free to share your vegan holiday recipes in the comments section below.

Pumpkin Pie

1 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp  vegan margarine

1 can/16 ounces of cooked pumpkin
1 cup (approximately) brown sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or alternately 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp each of ginger,  allspice, ground cloves, and nutmeg)
1 box silken tofu
1 faux egg (Ener-G Brand Egg Replacer).

Crust: Blend all crust ingredients together with a fork. Gradually add 2 tbsp of iced water, until you can form the dough into a ball.  Roll it out with a rolling pin until it’s large enough to fill the pie pan. Crimp the edges.

Filling: Blend together all filling ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Pour/spoon it into pie crust; bake at 400 for 30 minutes, then at 350 for another 20 or until the middle of the pie is firm to the touch (or doesn’t slosh when shaken).  

Macaroni and “Cheese”

3 1/2 cups macaroni
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup flour
3 1/2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 cup oil
1 cup nutritional yeast flakes (available at most health food stores)

Cook 3-1/2 cups macaroni. In saucepan, melt 1/2 cup margarine over low heat.
Beat in 1/2 cup flour with a wire whisk and continue to beat over a medium flame until the mixture is smooth and bubbly.
Whip in 3-1/2 cups boiling water, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder, and a pinch of tumeric, beating well.
The sauce should cook until it thickens and bubbles.
Then whip in 1/4 cup oil and 1 cup nutritional yeast flakes.
Mix part of the sauce with the noodles and put in casserole dish.
Pour the rest of the sauce on top.
Sprinkle with paprika and bake for 15 minutes in a 350 degrees preheated oven.
Put in broiler for a few minutes until sauce gets crisp.

One thought on “A Kinder Thanksgiving

  1. pam says:

    It’s hard to enjoy the “seasons” when people all around you talk about the animal that is going to be on their table. Meat eaters back away quickly when they learn you don’t eat meat and are trying to get away from other animal sources as well. A co-worker told me that God put animals here for us to eat. I looked at her and said, “well, I should be dead then.” God did not put animals on earth for us to mistreat, which is one of the reasons I went meat free. Factory farming and raising turkeys for Thanksgiving dinners is cruel and inhumane and why would I want to give thanks for that??? I hope more and more people will learn to think before they eat. Sadly, this world has a long way to go before animal cruelty is a daily thought and not a novelty thought. God Bless my turkey, who will be running free with his friends.

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