On Thanksgiving, What’s a Vegan to Do?

It’s the day after Election Day, and relationships are already under stress. Yet now, as much as ever, we need to come together, organizing for a mental shift in humanity. We’d have had to anyway, no matter whose team won and whose lost. Keep cultivating at the local level, and on the level of what’s most important to sustaining this Earth.

This is also a time of traditional family convocations, and I’ll bet not one will be untouched by the political chaos swirling around us. It’s a good time to find safe moorings, refresh our souls, and prepare for the work ahead.

If you are vegan, may you feel the support of vegan friends. If you are not yet with us, consider your personal potential to come together and crowdsource a refusal to war any more on the bio-community, or to war against or wall off “other” human beings and nations.

I’m not much of a YouTuber, but with a little urging from friends, I decided to have a go at making a vegan-to-vegan message. It’s dedicated especially to you who are just becoming vegan during an unprecedented meeting of environmental and social turbulence. I hope you find meaning in this video, and feel free to share it.

Finding Your Vegan Tribe: Some Practical Tips

Lydia and Mauro of From A to Vegan have some good suggestions for this post. They suggest we host vegan dinners, inviting vegan and vegan-supportive friends and family members to the gatherings.

And look to the Internet to find festive vegan get-togethers in your area on Meetup.com. In some areas, you might find none, but that just means you’ll need to start one and invite those hidden vegans out of the closet and into your circle.

Get together and share some new recipes (and feel empowered to share yours right here, in the comment field).

Here is a recipe for Cashew Nut Roast that Robin Lane gave me when I became vegan. It appears in the cookbook Dining With Friends (used copies available for a penny on Amazon at the moment).

Holiday Cashew Nut Roast

Serves 4 to 6


1/2 pound cashew pieces
4 ounces of brown rice
6 ounces of rye toast crumbs—including caraway seeds, or a dash of celery seed.
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large, ripe tomatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 teaspoons brewer’s yeast
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Dash of lemon (preferably freshly squeezed)
Dash of ground pepper


Cook rice until tender; grind cashews. (This can easily be done by hand by carefully running a rolling pin or jar over bagged nuts.)

Chop onion and garlic finely and heat in oil until they are slightly brown; chop and add one of the tomatoes; simmer until soft and add the broth.

Combine all of the above ingredients and press into two 9-by-5-by-2 1/2 -inch loaf pans or glass round pie baking dishes. Slice second tomato and use to decorate top, then bake for 30 minutes or a bit longer at 350 degrees F / 175 C.

You can share the Cashew Nut Roast as a main dish, or as a side dish as an alternative to bready stuffing.

Here is my serving suggestion. I’ll be making this one for the tribe.

Banner photo source: CheepShot, via Wikimedia Commons.

5 thoughts on “On Thanksgiving, What’s a Vegan to Do?

  1. Hi Lee,
    I just wanted to say that I truly appreciate your well thought out writings! I have been vegan for a number of years but I continue to seek wisdom and truth wherever I can, and strive never to become too complacent or stagnant as a vegan. I ordered your book “On Their Own Terms: Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth” and have been reading it every day. I’m not far enough along yet to give an impression, but I know that I will be able to take away a lot from this book! I joined a vegan Meetup group in my city a year ago when it first started, and have attended almost every event, and it is frustrating that only a small handful of people ever show up, though we are now up to 91 members. The core group of us have been doing everything we can think of to draw in more people (having events at different times or different days, different locations and different types of events). I have far more online vegan friends, and right now they have been a huge support during this awful political time. It helps to know we are not alone and together we can find the strength to keep fighting and moving forward!

    Anyway, I have a recipe that is my own creation I would like to share. It happens to be gluten free also for anyone interested. I made this for a potluck at work last year and people seemed to like it:
    Tropical Sweet Potato Balls


    1 cup corn flour
    1 cup almond flour/meal (can grind your own blanched almonds)
    Tsp baking powder
    ½ tsp baking soda
    Pinch salt
    Ginger powder
    Orange zest

    2 large sweet potatoes, skinned, steamed or baked, and mashed

    1.5 cup fresh chopped pineapple or one 12 oz can diced pineapple with juice
    1/3 cup of pure maple syrup
    2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
    T vanilla extract
    T chia seeds or ground flaxseed

    Turbinado sugar or other course sugar

    Preheat oven to 350 F.

    Add dry ingredients to a bowl and mix well.

    Add cooked mashed sweet potato to another large bowl (make sure it is totally cooled)

    In a blender or food processer, process wet ingredients (pineapple through chia seeds)

    Add wet ingredients to the sweet potato bowl.

    Slowly add dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients, incorporating it in batches, until you have workable dough that is relatively stiff. If you need to add more corn flour feel free, or alternately, if you need to add a little water that is fine.

    In another small bowl, add some turbinado/course sugar

    Shape dough into golf size balls with your hands. Roll the balls into the bowl of sugar and then place them on a well oiled cookie sheet or a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

    Bake balls in oven for 30-45 minutes, checking after twenty minutes or so and at thirty minutes. Balls are done when slightly brown and firm. The time it takes to bake them depends on how many you made and how large or small the balls are. Larger balls take longer.

    I was able to get 32 balls out of my batch, but this will depend on the size of your sweet potatoes and how large or small you roll your balls.

    Let balls cool on a rack before enjoying. These will keep refrigerated in an air tight container for several days. Best if eaten either the day of or the day after. May be eaten cold or warmed.

    • Elaine, thanks for all of this.
      I like your resolve to avoid becoming a stagnant or complacent vegan.

      That recipe looks good. I’ll try it.

      It’s good to know that remote relationships help sustain you. I find that too. I hope you keep trying with the in-person gatherings as well. It can take years before a group coalesces and when it does it’s so uplifting.

      My newer book is the independently published On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century. It’s re-written, has a new chapter and a new foreword by Jeffrey Masson. If you send a street address to climatelaw[at]me.com I’ll send you the new one; it’s on me.

  2. Thank you Lee for your inspiring words. I personally have utilized all 3 of the options you listed in trying to cope with thanksgiving. Your thoughts about what ” holidays” , particularly thanksgiving, really mean and their genesis are spot on. I am learning to treat each day as important, not just the ones designated by a sometimes artificial and materialistic culture. I am trying not to stress out over things or people’ feelings/ attitudes I cannot control or spend too much money on the latest craze / gadget that will end up in someone’ s closet or in a landfill in 6 months. My plans arent solidified for any of the seasons’ upcoming events; my priorities will be trying to stay flexible , happy and healthy.

    • Empowering thoughts and words. I’m happy for you, that you’ve tested and become free of the three scenarios (a little exaggerated by my video, but clearly you know what I mean). You offer another way of transcending the holiday frenzy: declining to feel left out, you celebrate life that happens every day.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with others who might be feeling pressed by the same social attitudes you’ve described and that quest for stuff(ing).

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