Pictured above: tofurkey, cranberry sauce, roasted brussells sprouts, green beans, a microwaved red bliss potato, sweet potatoes, and my "miso happy" gravy mixed with the tofurkey mushroom gravy. in the background are fresh bananas and pears that my 14 month old son was not going to eat, so I happily ate them.
In the book "Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World" the authors discuss about how meek vegans suffer, and that a vegan cannot assume that the omni-world will take care of their dietary needs. Making sure your vegan ass is covered during the holidays is super important. I struggled a bit at my in-law's home during the holidays, but I stood my ground. Just look at that plate. Doesn't it look awesome? No animals were harmed while I engaged in some serious un-turkey day nomming.
The struggle was this: we were headed to CO for Thanksgiving. My in-law asked me for a shopping list, and I happily submitted it to her. I was very specific on brand names and where to find these items. I was surprised and super grateful that she was willing to do this for me, because I was honestly willing to do the shopping myself. She purchased some vegan items for me, but it wasn't what I had asked for at all. Again I was super grateful, but how can you can you make a vegan persimmon pudding without earth balance?
I went to the local food co-op and bought said EB and some tofutti cream cheese, no problem. Then came Thanksgiving Day. I was able to get some grean beans to cook with my tofurkey, but when I asked about the presence of milk and butter in the mashed potatoes, she (this is my interpretation) balked and said, "of course." She added, "I was a vegetarian for 20 years and I avoided obvious meat but wasn't so picky about other things." and I stood there quiet for a moment and asked for my own red potato to microwave. I didn't think it was a big deal, but I felt I was treated like it was an inconvenience. I asked about butter in the brussels sprouts and the sweet potatoes. Both were okay, but I could hear the tension in her voice as I asked about the ingredients. "I guess you won't be having rolls either because I made them with powdered milk." Another relative came and brought organic egg nog. "Oh, you won't be having this? Some of my friends take eating vacations just for the holidays." I felt a frothy mixture of anger and sadness because I could have done all the shopping and cooking for myself by myself and not have been such a burden. No, I don't want to take a 'vacation' from my veganism. Lesson learned: even when offered assistance, I will still make my food ahead of time and have it Fed-Exed to the family vacation destination. Or better yet, relax and stay at home with other vegans and let my husband and child hang out with family.
To my vegan blogging buddies I know you can relate, but I want to say something to other omnivores who are trying to be helpful and supportive to other vegans: We sincerely appreciate your effort to help us but WE DON'T WANT BUTTER, MILK, CHEESE, HONEY, OR EGGS IN OUR SIDE DISHES. THEY AREN'T VEGAN IF THEY ARE SERVED THAT WAY. I know it it just seems like vegans are being pains in the ass about this, but we've chosen to be vegan for a reason. While I really enjoy the taste of meat, eggs, cheese, honey, and butter--I can no longer eat these items in good conscience knowing what I know about the factory farming industry. Even "organic" farms abuse their animals. I know that doesn't make sense but that's farming for you. "Happy" organic dairy farms artificially inseminate cows to get them to lactate for human consumption. Once a baby cow is born the cow is often taken from the mother, given formula, and the cow's milk is kept for human use. If the baby cow is a girl, she's pimped off to become a milk maker. If the baby cow is a boy, he goes off to Bovine University as a veal calf or beef cattle. When a momma cow is too old to make milk she is killed, and it doesn't matter if she's raised at a nice organic farm or living in a modern Auschwitz factory farm, it's still murder. The poultry and egg industry is worse. Yes, even "nice" organic hatcheries. This is why I don't want to consume these products. I believe that animals were not meant for us to use and abuse. If you are an omnivore that wants to be supportive of a vegan you must respect this, even if it seems like we're being a pain in the ass. After all, some of us try to be respectful of your odd eating habits.