I am a hardcore, diehard non-meat eater. And I make no exceptions, except for a significant cross-cultural experience or when I want a hamburger. My family stood by me when I declared my vegetarianism. They love me unconditionally and accept my dietary orientation as part of who I am, at least until Thanksgiving dinner.
As if the fourth Thursday in November is reserved for scarfing a bunch of food we otherwise never nibble, they all inquire if I’ll be having turkey. After all, gobbling the gobbler is to being human what the dictionary is to words: it separates the Americans from the people who spell “color” with unnecessary vowels.
Sure, who doesn’t love spicing up their green bean casserole with a few strips of bird flesh? I know I do. As a condiment for my all-plant diet, turkey comes second only to bacon’s blue ribbon. But if I so much as let the turkey touch my taters, my family will doubt my otherwise devout meatlessness the whole year through.
This freak show is about to go on the road. I’m having my first Thanksgiving at my soon-to-be in-laws’ house. These borderland folks raised two wonderfully stubborn girls and routinely fight off the neighborhood javelinas with a slingshot, yet my simple decision not to eat one of the seventeen available dishes has turned meal preparation into a reality show.
You may not believe me, but I truly don’t miss turkey. The best parts of Thanksgiving dinner are made more possible by NOT eating turkey. These are: 3) sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, 2) pumpkin pie, and 1) those hours in the late afternoon when everyone else is half unconscious on the couch and I can do anything I please in peace and quiet because I’m not all hopped up on the belief that tryptophan makes you sleepy.
And that’s not all, muscle-munchers: being a vegetarian is stuffed with massive perks. To find out what exactly these might be, gobble down the entire Fool’s Gold Thanksgiving Special, live on the New Mexico Mercury and The KC Post.