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A Thankful, Turkey-less Thanksgiving

14 years ago, my mom gathered up her daughters, sat us down, and made a very important announcement: she and my dad had decided to become vegetarians. After explaining her reasoning and telling us why she thought we might want to give up meat too, one question burst from my lips:

“But what about Thanksgiving??! Could we still eat the turkey??”


When she explained that no, being a vegetarian meant that you didn’t eat turkey on Thanksgiving or ham on Easter, or any meat any time, I was shocked. How the heck could you have Thanksgiving without the turkey?? And more importantly, why would you want to? That was seriously going to make me think twice before committing to this vegetarian thing.

That was 1996, and vegetarianism wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. However, to this day, the number one question I get around the holidays when I tell people I’m a vegetarian is the same as the one I had all those years ago: “But what about Thanksgiving? What do you eat? And year after year, I explain to people what I quickly found out that first meat-less Thanksgiving – I eat the side dishes. And I never go hungry!

But the fact remains that turkey is the center-piece of America’s Thanksgiving feast. When people first hear of a Thanksgiving without the main attraction, their gut reaction is the same: question how one could possibly survive the biggest eating day of the year without it. I’m sure once they take a moment to think about it, they realize how silly the question is (though they still may have their doubts about why you would want to experience Thanksgiving without turkey…but that’s another story!).

Don’t get me wrong, I love the smell of turkey. Walking in the door of a home where someone has been cooking all day and smelling the freshly baked foods is heaven. But you tell me, does the meat really taste as good as it smells?? I would bet not (that smell sets the bar pretty high). ;)

Most of my meat-less Thanksgivings have taken place with extended family, where I am not in charge of the food. I don’t bring my own specially prepared meal. When it comes time for dinner, I simply help myself to the side dishes and happily dig in. The plates of everyone around the table are made up of little (or not so little) piles of all the wonderful dishes. No turkey just means I get to help myself to an extra scoop of sweet potatoes, or a larger pile of butternut squash casserole. And it means I’ve always got room for a slice of pie…or two.

I know many out there never want to imagine a Thanksgiving without turkey. But if you’re considering it, I promise you it’s really not all that hard. There’s usually so much other great food to eat that after the first time, you won’t even think twice. I’ve survived 14 Thanksgivings without turkey. This year was my first without my family, and I can guarantee you that I missed them more than I ever missed that turkey.

Finally, I know I’m late in saying this, but I have so much to be thankful for this year. Even though I missed being at home surrounded by 3 great sisters, 2 awesome parents, 2 crazy cats, and a sweet little pup, my day certainly was not lacking in love. The past year has been filled with a lot of change and growth. I’m thankful for all the wonderful experiences I’ve had and the friends (both old and new) that I’ve shared them with. And of course, I’m thankful for all of you who read this blog of mine. Whether you read every day, or simply like to stop in from time to time – thank you. Thank you for taking interest in my ramblings, and for all the support you’ve given me these past months. It means more than you could ever know.

Before I end this post, here are just a few of the things I am thankful for:









I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend filled with love, laughter, and of course, amazing food. As we enter into this holiday season, don’t forget to take a minute to give thanks for the blessings in your life.

18 Responses to A Thankful, Turkey-less Thanksgiving

  1. awesome! i’m a vegetarian too! it does blow people’s mind…but since i was raised this way i never miss the traditional meat-based meals. my mom used to make meatless loafs in the shape of turkeys or other interesting things. there really are just tons of options available now. its so easy to fill up on the good food over the holidays! i’m so glad that you wrote this post. its interesting how concerned people are for my turkey-less thanksgivings…
    the dawn´s last post ..the week’s end- 20 weeks to go

  2. Is that your puppy? Adorable!
    Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run]´s last post ..Rain- Roots &amp Sushi Rolls

  3. I’m glad you had a nice Thanksgiving. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to be away from your family, but it sounds like you still had a wonderful day. Hopefully, you had plenty of sweet potatoes!
    Becky´s last post ..Giving Thanks

  4. Great post. I KNOW your family missed you this year, a lot!
    The pictures were great too, but who is the guy stuffing his face?

  5. Oh my goodness… ADORABLE puppy! And I think it’s funny that the first thing you thought of was the Thanksgiving turkey. =P
    Megan @ The Oatmeal Diaries´s last post ..i am thankful

  6. I’m so glad you had a nice Thanksgiving! I think it’s so cool that your parents are vegetarians. Such awesome role models :)

    I know how you feel. It’s so hard being away from your family at the holidays- but so nice knowing another family loves you, too.

  7. Family & friends are so much more important than the menu. So happy that you enjoyed your turkey-less holiday. :)
    Bekah @ runtrackmind´s last post ..20 Years Ago

  8. This was the first vegetarian Thanksgiving I’ve had as an adult, and I couldn’t have been more satisfied either! Like you, I was plenty happy with all the side dishes – stuffing with veggie broth, anyone? Who needs the meat?

    • I’m glad you had a good turkey-less Thanksgiving! :) It’s almost funny how easy it is to not eat the turkey…and not even miss it.

  9. This was my FIRST Thanksgiving without turkey. It did smell good, but I didn’t miss eating it, and left the table plenty full.

  10. Turkey is dry anyway! HA! I love these thankful posts- it makes me happy to see so many people appreciate the little things in life. So cool that your parents were the ones who got you into being a vegetarian- and it stuck!
    Lizzy´s last post ..I am Thankful

  11. Not going to lie…I usually only eat the turkey because it’s tradition. I don’t particularly like it all that much, so I usually cover it with cranberry sauce and eat it. With so many sides to choose from, one could easily go without the turkey and be just fine.

    I didn’t have turkey on Thanksgiving either….someone brought chicken to work and I had some of that. However, I almost never cook meat for myself, so I rarely eat meat…the less I eat, the more I don’t like it when I actually have it.

    That puppy is adorable!! Are those your sisters? And parents?
    Susan – Nurse on the Run´s last post ..a little post-hospital turkey trot

  12. The turkey is actually my least favorite Thanksgiving dish – so I don’t think you are missing out at all! Love the pics, especially the one of your pup
    Liz´s last post ..Soup-er Sunday

  13. I love turkey but have complete respect for everyone else that doesn’t care for it. In fact, I’d love to have a vegetarian Thanksgiving:)

    Your pictures are absolutely beautiful. And I could dognap that puppy –ooooh!
    Nichole´s last post ..We’re gonna have the hap hap happiest christmas since Bing Crosby tapdanced with Danny fn Kaye

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