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Thanksgiving Feast: Celebrating 20 Years of Living Cruelty-Free

The following article was written by Daniella Ramadei.

It was 20 years ago this Thanksgiving that I was home alone the day after the holiday. My mother had kindly made a turkey sandwich for my lunch. I unwrapped it from the foil, placed it on a plate, and surrounded it with leftovers scooped from the numerous containers in the fridge. Before I sat down to indulge, I decided to walk with my companion dog, Snowball, to the mailbox so that I could flip through holiday catalogs as I ate. That decision changed my life.

“Brrr.” I shook my head into Snowball’s snout, rubbing noses, as I unhooked his collar after the walk. I wriggled out of my coat and slipped into a cozy fluffy robe, rolled up my sleeves, and sorted the mail. Ohhh, a PETA brochure! I had recently become a member and was excited to receive my first piece of mail—recognition of my newfound pre-teen independence. I dragged my squeaky chair closer to the table and winked down at Snowball who was sitting patiently, awaiting table scraps.

As I opened the PETA brochure, I stopped and stared at the most poignant photograph—turkeys who were barely alive mangled inside a cage. I looked at my sandwich, then the photo, then my sandwich, then the photo, and finally I saw that it was the flesh of these turkeys between my slices of bread. I emptied my plate into the garbage, made a PB&J, hugged Snowball, and tossed him bits of carrot. When my parents returned from work, my mom asked if I was tired of turkey and wanted spaghetti and meatballs instead. I answered, “Yes, but hold the meatballs, please.”

I was lucky to have very supportive parents who celebrated my decision to be vegan in my food, clothing, product, and entertainment choices. While I was home for Thanksgiving last year, I finally sat my parents down and reasoned with them as to why they should go vegan. After they watched “Chew on This” and Earthlings, they finally understood that their choices were supporting cruelty to animals. They went vegan at ages 62 and 64! A year later, they are both maintaining and enjoying the variety of a vegan diet and reaping the health benefits—no more high cholesterol or high blood pressure!

So this year, I am celebrating 20 years of living cruelty-free with my family and friends by cooking them a vegan feast! The meal is as follows, and the recipe for the starred dish is below. Enjoy!

Hors d’Œuvres

  • Oven-Roasted Chestnuts
  • Mixed Olives
  • Steamed Artichokes

Appetizers

  • Fennel, Arugula, Pomegranate, Mandarin, and Pine Nut Salad
  • Kale, White Bean, and Tomato Soup

Main Dishes

  • Roasted Rosemary Cauliflower and Kabocha Squash
  • Grilled Peppered Asparagus
  • Mashed Garlic and Parsley Red Skin Potatoes

Side Dishes

  • Mushroom Stuffing Muffins*
  • Pumpernickel Bread
  • Tofurky Hickory Smoked Deli Slices

Sauces

  • Tofurky Gravy
  • Cranberry Bourbon Sauce

Desserts

  • Chocolate Mousse and Pumpkin Pudding Parfait Topped With Crumbled Maple Cookies From Trader Joe’s
  • Carrot Cake with So Delicious Coconut Milk Vanilla Ice Cream and Cinnamon Powder

Mushroom Stuffing Muffins
1/2 cup vegan margarine
2 cups diced onion
1 1/2 cups diced celery
6 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
6 cups cubed bread
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. black pepper
3 cups sliced black olives

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  • In a deep sauté pan, heat the vegan margarine with the onions and celery, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until tender.
  • Add the mushrooms and herbs. Cook, stirring, for 7 minutes, or until tender.
  • Add the bread and turn off the heat. Stir in the broth and add the pepper and olives. Let sit until the bread soaks up the liquid.
  • Fill a muffin pan with the mixture and bake for 15 minutes.

Makes 8 servings

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  • Radhika says:

    wow wonderful story.. i am a vegetarian for 10 years now and just became vegan couple of days ago.. great inspiring story. Is there any health risk in taking soya milk. I heard that woman find difficult to get pregant? I am not sure. how is your health?

  • Nitin says:

    In the Hindu and Jain culture lies a deep respect for all living beings.Animals are either given godly status or protected in some form of legend.In case some domestic animal like e.g. a cat is killed by your hands there is a penalty / penance.
    The concept of love for Animals and that they too are the owners of this earth and deserve equal rights was imbibed right in the childhood in the form of stories and legends.

    Let the allmighty lord bestow the sense of love for all animals.

  • Rebecca Hassell says:

    What a wonderful story, thanks for sharing, & for the recipe too! Happy Thanksgiving. <3

  • Saba Alemayehu says:

    Praised be the Christian Vegan Lord for enabling this sister to do right on that Thanksgiving day. I mentioned in one of the books I wrote: The Lord Christian Jesus Was A Vegan and The Christian Vegan Revised Psalms by Saba, how I also became a Vegiterian on one Tahanksgiving day. I did not even know that day to had been a Thanksgiving day but resolved to go meatless from that day on, for Christian reasons. But that late afternoon the invitation came for me to join some people I knew for a Turkey dinner and I readily declined. If I did not decline that dinner invitation I might not have the determination to continue live by the Word and not by the animals’ bodily parts. That happend to me nearly 30 years ago. Let us all now thank the Holy Spirit, who single handedly helped each of us to go Christian Vegans for the sake of God’s eternal Kingdom. Amen.

  • Rose says:

    Very heartwarming story. Sometimes it doesn’t take alot to tug at our heartstrings. Im glad more and more people are opening their eyes and hearts to animal cruelty and being supportive and helping to make change.

  • Jay says:

    Nice article, love the pup.

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