Being Vegan – Some Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts
By: Paul Graham
What a beautiful day that it is…sunny and about 70 degrees which is pretty nice for the end of November. The leaves are still on the trees and they are full of color…yes, that happens here in the middle of the desert too! This long Thanksgiving weekend provides some definite contrasts as I look back upon this week and all of the activities that makes this week what it is. It is a time of food preparation and of course sharing a meal with friends and family and hopefully reflecting upon all that we still have to be grateful for. That is what is all about…right? Thanksgiving is truly an American holiday, just like the 4th of July, but it is being increasingly converged upon by something that has become known as Black Friday, which has become a self-proclaimed holiday of sorts for some.
While we heard so much talk about prior to the recent election about the sad state of our economy, it is surely not evident on Black Friday and the days surrounding it. People were once again camping out over the Thanksgiving holiday to be in prime position to get a deal on some big electronics or something that they just can’t live without. Some may be buying presents for Christmas and other upcoming holidays, but too often it just a matter of filling our homes with more “stuff.” I watched the classic George Carlin routine about “Stuff” on YouTube the other night and it is such a good reminder that we spend a good deal of our lives acquiring this stuff, and unless we are a candidate for the show “Hoarders,” we spend the latter part of our lives trying to get rid of most of it.
I am not against consumerism….shop until you drop if that is what you like to do. I just want to raise a flag for thinking about shopping local whenever we can and not just the big box retailers who sometimes operate under some very questionable business practices. Wherever you live there are local artisans who offer some wonderful and beautiful goods that are unique and special and usually at very good prices. When we spend at local businesses and with local artisans most of that money ends up staying in our own communities, and that is a good thing. We can’t fix the economy everywhere, but we can do what we can to help the economy thrive where we all live. National Small Business Saturday is a day to highlight small local businesses and how important it is to support them. It felt really great to head out on this beautiful day and have some coffee at one of our great local coffee houses and then head out to pick up some great finds at The Main Street Faire and the Neon Holiday Bazaar in Downtown Las Vegas. I met some wonderful people and found some great buys. I think this is what we should be supporting all the year round as at least a place to start with our shopping. It brings a wonderful balance to this time of year in contrast to some of the craziness that abounds.
I also noticed some very positive movement in regards to food and what we are eating during the Thanksgiving Holiday. Plant-based eating is definitely gaining at least a small foothold in the minds, hearts, and stomachs of an increasing amount of Americans. We know well that meat and dairy consumption has been steadily going down but it is never more evident than at Thanksgiving. More and more people are opting for meatless alternatives to the turkeys, hams, and etc. that have traditionally found their way to holiday tables through the horrific gates of factory farms. I saw an upturn people foregoing meat-based meals and enjoying some of the wonderful homemade or store-bought alternatives that have come into the mainstream along with an abundance of plant-based sides and dessert options. More people than ever before also spent money that might normally go for the purchase of a turkey to “adopt” a turkey at an animal sanctuary instead. A movement has to start somewhere and what a better time than now to start a more concerted effort to conscious living and eating. What better lessons can we teach the future generations?
Of course, with the increased awareness, comes increased resistance as some people just dig their heels in a little more and keep the disconnect going between the “farming” practices of the turkey industry and what they buy, cook, carve, and put upon their plates in a spirit of thanksgiving. It is not enough to just have the turkey but now perhaps we should wrap it in bacon before cooking it. One should offer an apology to the turkey and their own arteries after that. I love traditions and I hope that we can always hold on to the ones that are dear and that can be celebrated without exploitation and with kindness and a clear conscience. If a tradition can not meet that criteria then perhaps it is a tradition that needs to end. The world has never been more in need of humankind to evolve and live at a higher level of love, kindness, and consciousness. I believe it not only can, but will happen. I am encouraged to see that we are moving in that direction. How we spend our money and how we eat are true indications of what is going on inside of our hearts. As we approach the coming holiday season, let us be more aware than ever before that peace on earth begins on our plates. If you don’t believe me…try it for yourself and then tell me that is not in fact true. It forever changes you and the way that you see the world.
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog www.eatingveganinvegas.tumblr.com which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas. He can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/EatingVeganinVegas.