A Feral Thanksgiving

This is the year we’re not supposed to gather for Thanksgiving. Of course, many of us revamped this celebration years ago. It was uncomfortable at the outset for those whose families glossed over a lot to create a show of togetherness. Then we became vegan, and the fetishistic rituals focused on giant bird bodies looked sadder and more grotesque every year.

Uttering our regrets came as a multi-layered relief, even if we felt vaguely guilty or guilted by relatives who clung to tradition.

We regained a sense of normality by meeting at vegan tables. And yet, for us too, there would be much more to acknowledge. What was the Thanksgiving message for the people dragged against their will to this continent? Or for those who lived here long before it became the “New World”?

Since 1970, Native Americans have gathered for a day of mourning every Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock, recalling the Pequot people and their fate in the place now called Mystic, Connecticut. At the 1637 Pequot massacre, as many as 700 indigenous adults and kids were slain and their village burnt to the ground, clearing the land for European expansion. The Puritans outlawed the name Pequot, and began giving thanks annually for having so quickly exterminated the native community. We’ve got a walk-in closet full of skeletons here.

The Covid-19 stay-at-home guidance offers us time for a deep, collective breath — and for deep and collective regrets. 

Last Thanksgiving…

Colin Kaepernick spoke at the Indigenous People’s Sunrise Ceremony, in recognition of an Indigenous occupation of the former federal prison on Alcatraz Island. “Thank you to my Indigenous family,” Kaepernick said on Thanksgiving 2019. “I’m with you today and always.”

Kaepernick told Twitter followers that the U.S. has stolen 1.5 billion acres of Indigenous land.

It seems fitting to question the domestication of our historical memories into Thanksgiving. And maybe that’s harder to do as we decorate our doors and our tables in crimson and amber hues, and gather in kitchens to bake root vegetables and cashew roasts.

Maybe we need a long autumn weekend amidst the bare trees and chilly air to consider Plymouth Rock, to hear Colin Kaepernick’s words, to remember those who were never at the table, and to think about how, on such a busy planet, a human family would gather, and what it would say when it did.

Love and liberation,

Lee.

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

Ingredients:

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

Preparation:

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.