How to Eat Vegan on Thanksgiving

Story by Zoe Wexler, Staff Writer

Thanksgiving and the following holiday season are full of obstacles for vegan and vegetarian students. Avoiding animal products can be especially difficult during this time of year due to all of the hidden ingredients in dishes. From gelatin in cranberry sauce to meat in stuffing, one can never be sure exactly what they are eating at Thanksgiving dinner.

Although it may be difficult to eat vegan when the holidays come around, it is not impossible. By substituting animal products for vegan alternatives in dishes and buying specially made vegan foods found in most grocery stores, anyone can enjoy a cruelty free holiday feast.

Many people believe that by excluding dairy and meat from Thanksgiving dinner, vegans have to miss out on signature holiday foods. However, many seasonal dishes can be easily recreated using cruelty free ingredients. For simple recipes dairy can be replaced with milk substitutes including almond milk, soy milk, and rice milk. Dishes that require eggs can be made using flax seed or chia seed eggs, which emulate the omega-3 found in real eggs. These egg substitutes can be made by simply mixing water with the ground up seeds. Margarine and butter substitutes can also be found in most grocery stores, using plant based ingredients and coconut oil instead of dairy milk.

Vegan students can even eat meat dishes this time of year, as many online manufacturers produce vegan meat alternatives. Entire turkeys can be bought off of Myrtle Greens, a vegan-friendly online grocery provider. Vegan Essentials, an award-winning vegan online store, sells entire hams and various Thanksgiving roasts.

Despite the negative stigmas that vegan diets have acquired, it is very important to see that people who follow this diet can eat all of the same style of foods that any other person can eat. Most of the time, the people who view veganism as unnecessary and inconvenient are just uneducated about the impact that these diets have. Many think that a meat and dairy free diet only benefits the animals, but this is far from the truth.

“I chose to go vegan because it is better for the environment and I just didn’t like the thought of eating animals,” said sophomore Angelika Ziemecki.

Veganism benefits the environment in so many ways, and this is because meat and dairy production greatly contributes to pollution. By choosing to abstain from these industries, vegan individuals play a role in reducing damage to waterways.

Large factory farms raise livestock in huge populations, feeding them antibiotics to enhance their growth. Because there are so many animals being raised all at once, the amount of animal waste being produced is so great that there is nowhere for it to go. This waste often ends up in nearby rivers and streams, bringing harmful chemicals from the antibiotics into aquatic ecosystems. The nutrients from the waste can also lead to eutrophication, algae blooms, and dead zones.

Vegans are also less susceptible to certain illnesses, including heart disease and cancer. Multiple studies show that chemicals in meat, dairy and eggs lead to cardiac arrest and the development of cancerous tumors. Therefore, individuals who avoid these products are less likely to be affected.

All of the benefits that veganism can have and all of the ways it can be easily achieved explain why it is such a popular lifestyle. Vegan dishes are not as difficult to make as it may seem, making it an efficient and impactful diet. Even if you cannot eat vegan due to allergies and dietary intolerances, it is still possible to eat sustainably through buying animal products only from local and family owned sources. This holiday season, anyone can eat cruelty-free and make a difference.

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