Thanksgiving can be a hard time for us all. The pressure of preparing a huge meal, long traffic-ridden travel and family fights just to name a few of the tension-raising elements. It is undoubtedly one of the more stressful holidays with the only real payoff being a huge coma-inducing meal. But what if you’re unable to enjoy the meaty main course bird. Is it all still worth it? WellWell spoke to Katie Culpin, author of Vegan Holiday Cookbook: Festive Plant-Based Meals and Desserts for the Thanksgiving and Christmas Table, about the challenges and advantages to being vegan during Thanksgiving.
When did you first go vegan? How has the reaction and accommodation from family members and friends during Thanksgiving shifted from then until now?
I went vegan about 12 years ago. At first my family wasn’t very supportive of the idea, but they’ve come around slowly over the years and now my mom even saves vegan recipes to send me and make when we see each other.
How difficult was your earliest Thanksgivings after going vegan? What were the main dishes you were able to make or eat?
Some of the early ones were quite difficult. It’s hard seeing meat on the table when you know what has happened to the animal to get there. But since then I usually spend festive holidays with friends instead and we have full vegan feasts.
What dishes did you miss most? Was it a dessert?
I missed the traditional sweet pudding that we usually have but found it’s quite easy to veganize. Now you can even find vegan versions in the supermarkets.
How did this lead to the writing of Vegan Holiday Cookbook: Festive Plant-Based Meals and Desserts for the Thanksgiving and Christmas Table?
I have quite a few vegan festive recipes on my blog—Delightful Vegans. I was approached by a publisher who wanted me to make a book specifically to cater for festive recipes. I was happy to get creative with festive vegan recipes and make the book come to life.
What are some dishes in your book people may be surprised to find out can be made vegan or have a vegan alternative?
I have a vegan festive roast in there, which is also gluten-free, a mushroom wellington, a stuffing recipe, cranberry sauce, and even a few great dessert recipes including a Pumpkin Pie Meringue Cheesecake that is featured on the front cover of the book. I also include a vegan cream and custard recipe.
Any dishes that do not have a vegan alternative you miss during Thanksgiving?
Not these days – really, anything can be made vegan. It’s incredible what people can do with plant-based food.
Anyone who’s ever attended a family Thanksgiving dinner knows the tired feeling about twenty minutes after you finish eating where you’re essentially exhausted from all the food you’ve eaten. Are you able to avoid this occurrence due to the healthier nature of vegan dishes or is the post-dinner slumber inevitable?
In some ways, yes, you feel satisfied and less heavy eating a vegan diet. But I think it’s still possible to overeat, and also eat too much of the wrong sorts of food that do make you feel heavy and tired. It’s all about balance.
What are some other benefits to being vegan during Thanksgiving and the holidays?
The main benefit is to reduce animal cruelty. I think if slaughterhouses had glass walls, a lot more people would be vegan. Another benefit is to get creative in the kitchen and perhaps cook something you haven’t tried before – be experimental and enjoy it.
What are some issues associated with animal products often used during Thanksgiving that people may not be aware of?
Take turkeys for instance. Over 40 million of them are slaughtered each year for Thanksgiving and that’s in the USA alone. They are de-beaked without pain killers and killed when they are about 4 to 6 months old. The main issues associated with festive occasions is the animal cruelty that comes with consuming so much meat around those times. Also, many animals are pumped with hormones to make them grow faster, which doesn’t seem very appetizing to consume either.
About Katie Culpin
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