Surviving Thanksgiving as a progressive vegan

How to bring something positive to a stressful day Photo: Etafly

SANTA CRUZ, November 25, 2013 — Most Americans will agree that there is something about this time of year which brightens their mood, softens their hearts and causes them to give a second or two more of daily consideration to their fellows. Some call it magical, others just get swept up in the uplifting music and bright decorations. This is a product of custom and advertising.

As the nation celebrates Thanksgiving this week, it is worth noting what it is people are observing. On the following day, commonly referred to as black Friday, all anyone will be talking about is how much food they stuffed into their faces. Black Friday has become D. Day for retailers nationwide, with many of them opening their doors earlier each year. Several box stores will now simply open on Thanksgiving Day, presumably beating the competition to the punch.

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How has a holiday designed to celebrate gratitude devolved into such an embarrassing display of gluttony and unbridled consumerism? Rather than considering ways to tighten our collective belts and do something for those less fortunate, the majority of us take some pathological comfort in overeating, and then trying to out-glutton our friends by regaling them with stories of our voracity the following day.

Thanksgiving never works out very well for American turkeys. Somewhere along the line, somebody decided that the best way to celebrate the things we are thankful for would be to slaughter millions of turkeys and stuff their rotting carcasses into our pie holes. As time has worn on, and advertising has deftly woven increased consumption into the holiday, we are now expected to eat even more. Once we have eaten to the point of physical immobility, we are expected to assume a supine position and allow the national doctrine disguised as football wash over us. It is a pathetic ritual, as celebrations go.

Thanksgiving can be a challenge to the progressive vegan or vegetarian. The holiday is often an occasion to reconnect with family members, many of whom have vastly different ideological views. After the cursory beating is administered on political or social matters, the vegan then begins the day-long ritual of attempting to explain why they choose not to consume dead animals, where and how they get their protein, and why they have to make everything so difficult for their poor mother (or whichever unfortunate family member has been charged with preparing the ridiculous amounts of food).

At the end of the day, Thanksgiving for the progressive vegan is an exercise in restraint and, on the bright side, an opportunity to practice acceptance of others and their points of view. Bringing something positive to the day (and maybe bringing a vegan dish to share) ought to be their main focus, rather than how misunderstood and judged they feel and how everybody else in their family is wrong.

SEE RELATED: Holiday Recipe: Simple tips for cooking a Thanksgiving turkey



Russ Rankin writes about hockey, music & politics. You can find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He also sings for Good Riddance and Only Crime. Find out what he’s up to by checking out his website.


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Russ Rankin

Santa Cruz, California native Russ Rankin is the vocalist for the seminal California punk band Good Riddance, the hard rock band Only Crime as well as currently performing original songs as a solo artist. Rankin is a dedicated vegan, an avid animal rights advocate, a political activist and has been a regular columnist for AMP Magazine and New Noise Magazine as well as contributing to various magazines such as Alternative Press, Razorcake and others. 

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