Here we are again. Time for traditional family convocations, violently superimposed over older traditions, older communities. And here again, as in every year for years running, this day named for gratitude is enveloped in political distrust and ethical chaos.
I’ll visit someone who needs a visit, who used to live next door. Then I’ll be at SuTao vegan restaurant, insulated, liberated, nourished, and deeply grateful. If you are vegan or becoming vegan, I’m grateful for you, too, and your intrepid hope. Thanks for your faith in your personal potential. Thanks for refusing to disrespect life. Thanks for declining to slaughter, conquer, or wall life off.
We’ve regained a sense of stability at our vegan tables. And yet, for us too, there’s more to acknowledge. What is Thanksgiving’s message for the people dragged against their will to this continent? Or for those who lived here long before it became the “New World”?
With each passing year we learn more about this holiday’s chain of title. About the Black truth-tellers who renamed it a day of mourning. About the Indigenous people robbed of their own traditions and personhood.
At the 1637 Pequot Massacre, English colonizers orchestrated the killing of hundreds of Indigenous adults and kids, and the burning of their village. The colonizers began giving thanks annually for their own successful migration, which erased cultures and traditions that had evolved over ten thousand years. According to Philadelphia Magazine:
Thanksgiving was made an official federal holiday in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, less than a year after he authorized what remains to this day the nation’s largest ever mass execution — the hanging of 38 Sioux men in Mankato, Minnesota in December 1862.
Since 1970, First Nations people have gathered for a day of mourning every Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock. All told, the United States has taken more than 1.5 billion acres of Indigenous land.
And the site of the Pequot Massacre, now Mystic, Connecticut, is today packed with tourist draws, including “encounters” with captive beluga whales, rays, Harbour seals, California sea lions, and African penguins.
Two Hundred and Forty Miles South of Mystic…
In the town of Wayne, Pennsylvania, within walking distance from where I live (if you want to risk being hit by a speeding car), is a Post Office mural. Brightened by spotlights, it shows the triumph of General Anthony Wayne over the dying body of an Indigenous human being.
An eagle glorifies the conquest. A bridled horse waits to carry the general to the next act in a grand drama of colonial looting. The artifacts would turn up, one day, in museum displays.
The town on the Philadelphia Main Line once called Louella became Wayne, in tribute to the local Revolutionary leader and Indian fighter. Here are those words on commemorative signage. This is how history gets twisted up and how our minds do.
We need to reclaim our minds and our time. In this spirit, let me share words that Lynn Kennedy posted on this blog and I’ve repeated in years past. Lynn works in the area of mental wellness and substance use with Indigenous people in what’s now called Canada.
The effects of colonization continue to impact current generations. Across North America, more and more people are being awakened to the injustices being done to Indigenous peoples and people of colour and are speaking out against the injustices being wrought on these peoples. I hope this extends to the continued barbaric injustices to farmed animals, and the impact on our natural world and our collective futures.
With that same hope, I’ll offer this recipe for Cashew Nut Roast. Robin Lane gave it to me 39 years ago. I was 22 and just turned vegan. I’ve made it yearly, ever since. For me, it turns an unthinking celebration of false memories into a healthful insistence on learning from the truth-tellers.
Healthful and Humane Roast
It starts with two cups of coarsely crushed cashews, like this. (Crushing the cashews can easily be done by hand, by carefully running a rolling pin or jar over bagged nuts.)
In addition to the cashews, we need:
4 ounces of dry brown rice
6 ounces of rye toast crumbs—including the caraway seeds (or add a dash of celery seed)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large, ripe tomatoes
4 tablespoons (organic) olive oil
Up to ¼ cup (organic) vegetable broth (depends on the consistency you prefer)
2 teaspoons brewer’s yeast
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
A squeeze of lemon and a pinch of ground pepper
OK! Now cook the rice until it’s tender and mix it with the ground cashews. Chop the onion and garlic and heat those up in your oiled pan to slightly brown them; chop and add one of the tomatoes; simmer it all until it’s soft and add a wee bit of broth.
Combine all of the above ingredients to press into two loaf pans or glass pie baking dishes. Slice the second tomato and use to decorate the top, sprinkle pepper over the tomatoes on top, then bake for 30 minutes or a bit longer at 350 degrees F / 175 C. Cut the cashew nut roast into slices to serve as a main dish, or make it a side dish as an alternative to bready stuffing.
Enjoy! May the turkeys stay free, living, evolving, in the web of life. Each day, for them and for us, is an important day. May we visit someone who needs a visit, walk gently through the woods, and celebrate life, which unfolds every day, despite our society’s perennial quest for stuff(ing). And may we contemplate how, in such a busy world, an honestly humane humanity can gather together, and what we will say to each other when we do.
Love and liberation,