Our Vegan Thanksgiving

Today is the start of Canada’s Thanksgiving long weekend. Every year I look forward to my family coming together for a lovely dinner. For over twenty-five years, our Thanksgiving dinners have been vegetarian. We’ve done a Tofurkey Thanksgiving, a Veggie Lasagna Thanksgiving, and several Indian Thanksgivings. Each time, I’d come away feeling good. Feeling good about being vegetarian. Feeling good that at least one less turkey had been killed. Feeling good about doing my part for animals.

Recently I watched a documentary called Cowspiracy. My daughter had been suggesting we watch it for quite a while. All too quickly I realized there was A LOT more I could do to help animals.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, I hope you will. It’s about the damage the agricultural industry has on the environment. Here are a few things I learned:

  • Livestock and their byproducts account for 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Methane is more destructive to the environment than CO2
  • 2500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1lb of beef
  • 1000 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 gallon of milk
  • 900 gallons of water are needed to produce 1lb of cheese
  • Livestock covers 45% of the Earth’s total land
  • More than 6 MILLION animals are killed EVERY HOUR for food
  • AND THIS ONE: ANIMAL AGRICULTURE is the LEADING CAUSE of SPECIES EXTINCTION, WATER POLLUTION, and HABITAT DESTRUCTION.

I know some of you will read this and discount it as animal activist propaganda. Others will read it, feel bad, and then do nothing. But I’m hoping some of you will see this is an opportunity—A chance to make a difference.

I always thought by being vegetarian I was helping animals. And I still believe I am. But I can do more. My daughter who was one of the pickiest eaters as a child—nothing green could even remotely touch her plate, has been a vegan for several years. She gave up foods she loved (cheese pizza, macaroni and cheese, cookie-dough ice-cream, cupcakes, and so many other treats) for the animals she loves even more.

My daughter is my inspiration, my role model. Attaining her level of commitment to helping animals is a high bar, one that will take me time to achieve . . . if I ever can. But what I can do is start small. I’m going to start by being vegan twice a week. And then every month, I’ll add a day. By the time it’s Christmas, I should be vegan five days out of seven. I know there will be slip-ups. Days I will fall short. Days I will be weak. I’m going to allow myself those setbacks, hoping in time, they will become fewer and fewer.

When I first became a vegetarian, I would picture cows and pigs being shipped off to slaughter. Imagine their fear as they were herded off the trucks. This was more than enough to stop me from eating a hamburger.

Now when I think about having a cheese pizza or buttered popcorn, I’ll picture the calf of a dairy cow being whisked away from its mom and sent to slaughter. I’ll picture all the habitats being destroyed to raise dairy cows. I’ll picture my daughter happily enjoying a veggie burger instead of a bowl of macaroni and cheese. And hopefully that will be enough to stop me from indulging.

So this year will be our first ever entirely VEGAN Thanksgiving dinner. And I can’t wait.

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