Thanksgiving is a magical time when most Americans
come together with family to gorge themselves
to the point of a full-blown food-coma.
Oh, and give thanks, be grateful, and that
Given that food is such a cornerstone of our
social interactions and traditions, holidays—and
Thanksgiving in particular—can be very intimidating
for new and existing vegans.
And aside from the logistics of what to eat
and how to deal with your loved ones, the
ethical issues surrounding this “day of thanks”
are quite troubling: from the very first Thanksgiving’s
foundation upon the slaughter of an indigenous
people to the annual tradition revolving around
the mass slaughter of turkeys.
How is a vegan to handle a holiday so loaded
with (potential) landmines?
Just leave it to this guide to help you navigate
Thanksgiving like a pro—from “surviving”
your non-vegan family to dropping “fun fact”
historical truth bombs at the table to even
educating effectively about the ethics of
Now that’s something to be thankful for!
Hi, It’s Emily from Bite Size Vegan and
welcome to another vegan nugget.
Just a quick FYI: you can find all of the
videos, guides and resources I’ll be mentioning
on this video’s post on BiteSizeVegan.org
Before we dig into what to eat for Thanksgiving,
let’s take a look at where (and how) this
Impress your family with your historical prowess
while secretly busting out an educational
activism sneak-attack with the true history
of this twisted holiday in The Truth About
“Today, this relationship established between
the Wampanoag and the pilgrims is mourned
by the Wampanoag who gather every year with
hundreds of native people at Cole’s Hill
overlooking Plymouth Rock for the national
day of mourning, on what we know as Thanksgiving.”
Now I’m not here to spoil your holiday or
invalidate your family traditions.
I simply want to take a look at both the origins
of Thanksgiving and the current practices
involved with its observance.
Most of us Americans grow up with the romantic
recitation of the first Thanksgiving with
the Pilgrims and “Indians” coming together
But this holiday has a human cost at its foundation—for
all its warm and fuzzy feelings, Thanksgiving
is essentially the celebration of genocide
You can find more Thanksgiving truth in the
full video “The Truth About Thanksgiving.”
Now that you know how this whole Thanksgiving
thing started, you may not feel so celebratory.
But who’s to say you don’t start your own
Luckily, going vegan doesn’t mean giving up
your favorite holiday-tied tastes.
Given how un-gifted I am when it comes to
the kitchen, I teamed up with some meal-mastering
vegan YouTubers to bring you the “how to”
of an epically ethical Thanksgiving dinner.
“Does a turkey-free Thanksgiving sound desolate
Is your only impression of a vegan Thanksgiving
[screeching horror sound effect] “Well fear
Today I’ve brought in a team of specialists
to create an epic vegan spread for your holiday
Grab all of the recipes and get all of the
tasty details in that full video and playlist.
If you’re anything like me, one of the hardest
parts of this holiday is the pain of knowing
what the turkeys we break, breed, confine
and kill experience.
That awareness can make it incredibly challenging
to be around non-vegan friends and family,
much less try to talk to them about the issue.
My “Draw My Life” video covering the life
of a turkey offers a way to introduce loved
ones to what turkeys experience—with all
of the weight of their suffering, but without
a single graphic image.
Consisting entirely of marker-board-drawings
and a poetic voice-over, this video follows
the abbreviated five-month lifespan of a single
“I’m up against my sisters.
It’s hard to breath.
There are so many of us.
This is our very first day.
I grow so fast.
We all grow so fast.
My legs can’t lift me.
My sister tries to use her wings to inch to
Others gave up long ago.”
You can find the written poem-transcript and
resources for learning about what turkeys
experience on that post.
Nothing fits a family gathering quit like
sharing anecdotal trivia about bizarre governmental
Impress your family with your know-how about
the strange history of turkey pardons (and
lay down some turkey truth while you’re at
Every year, the President of the United States
pardons two turkeys from being slaughtered
But what most people don’t realize about
this supposedly lighthearted tradition is
that the majority of pardoned turkeys die
within a year of their pardon:
“This extravagant production, run by the lobbyist
organization the National Turkey Federation,
essentially serves as an extended governmental
infomercial for the turkey industry.
The Federation’s annual turkey gifting began
more or less in 1947 when angry farmers sent
crates of live hens to President Truman in
protest of his failed “poultryless Thursday”
attempt to reduce national meat and egg consumption”
You can find more about the turkey pardons
on that post.
The most powerfully effective way to make
the connection between the body on our plate
and the being they once were is to look them
directly in the eye.
I streamed this footage live to YouTube from
a turkey slaughterhouse near me here in Iowa
just before Thanksgiving.
Even this small slaughterhouse alone kills
over 20,000 turkeys a day.
I stayed with them for hours.
In the Iowa cold.
They were terrified.
Covered in feces and sores.
Wheezing from respiratory infections and the
weight of their overgrown bodies.
Some already dying.
Within hours of this footage, they had all
Dragged through an electrified water tank
before having their throats slit open.
All for families to gather over their corpses
and “give thanks.”
But this is nothing to be thankful for.
You can see the full live stream and find
more resources on that post.
Now that we’ve covered the hows and whys of
a vegan Thanksgiving, and the disturbing origins
of the holiday itself, I’ll leave you with
something perhaps even more disturbing: your
Holidays can be a challenging time regardless
of your dietary inclination.
When you’re vegan in a family of non-vegans
and/or surrounded by non-vegan friends, things
get even less merry.
But fear not because today I’m going to
share my top tips for staying vegan during
Here’s a sneak peek:
“Tip #8: Beware The Stealth Dishes & Make
Stuffing is usually baked in the gutted out
body cavity of a turkey carcass.
Instead, don’t bake it inside the gutted
out body cavity of a turkey carcass.
Maybe use a casserole dish.”
While you always have the option of not eating
with your family and friends for the holidays,
if you want to be with loved ones who still
eat…well, loved ones, hopefully these tips
You can find more resources on social situations,
non-vegan family interaction, and holiday
recipes on that post.
I hope this holiday guide has helped you get
grateful for your “vegan vision,” while finding
tools for handling the challenges that come
with such awareness.
While going vegan can be daunting when thinking
of holidays and social gatherings, it also
opens up opportunities for creativity and
Please share this guide around to help other
vegans and vegans-to-be!
Remember to head on over to the linked website
post for all of the information and linked
To support the creation of free resources
like this, check out the support links below
or in the sidebar.
Now go live vegan and I’ll see you soon.
All credits go to Bite Size Vegan