Change can take you by surprise.

Without warning an old way of doing something can make way for something exciting. Change is good regardless, but especially when it has to do with long standing traditions. Change can do the body good. All it takes is an open mind. And curiosity. And some persuading.

This year we had a Vegan Thanksgiving. That’s right, I did say Vegan.

A bold choice given the turkey bludgeoning we all get every year. How anyone can resist the pressure to do the usual feast is beyond me, but I must say we managed it. It was a bit different than the amazing feasts my Grandma Florence used to make, but it turned into a very successful and extremely tasty holiday meal.

Our youngest daughter made the choice to be vegan about six months ago. She chose to do this based on her ideology and animal activism. She kept it up because she finds she feels better eating that way, which is about the best reason I can think of to keep it going. This year she invited one of her college friends (a vegetarian) to come join our family Thanksgiving. Her friend started eating vegetarian when they got to college, in part because the meat dishes in the college dining hall were so consistently disgusting. She kept it up because she felt healthier and more energetic eating that way. Again excellent reasons for keeping it all going.

Both made it clear they were not going to eat animal products for Thanksgiving.

I’m sure you can see the dilemma. We could make vegan dishes for our daughter and her friend. Dishes that everyone could eat. But the roaster bird, gravy, sausage stuffing, cheesy potatoes and buttered vegetables would exclude them. Somehow it felt another solution needed to present itself.

So, in the spirit of this season, we decided to be inclusive and create a Vegan Thanksgiving meal that could be enjoyed by all. Although it took a little creativity, in the end we had great fun and a great meal. Even better was the fact that everyone could eat, well, everything. I mean I know some people who don’t like vegetables. I get that. However it doesn’t mean they can’t eat vegetables.

In the end everyone could be included. Plus one of the benefits was that the kids dove in with great enthusiasm to help with the food preparation – a definite perk. It made the whole event that much better. Even the cleanup was remarkably easy!

Our menu included:

1) Faux turkey “Tofurkey.”

2) Mushroom gravy (vegan).

3) Onion and leek and mushroom sauté.

4) Oven baked sweet potato slices.

5) Sliced Brussels sprouts and kale sauté sprouted pumpkin seeds.

6) A raw salad with thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, massaged with an olive oil vinaigrette, (see below) with sprouted sunflower seeds, sprouted pumpkin seeds and raw pignolas.

7) Cauliflower sliced and baked in coconut milk.

8) Two kinds of cranberry relish.

9) Rolls with organic “Earth balance” Omega-3 fake butter (nothing like the margarine you knew, grandma)

10) Garlic mashed potatoes made with some almond milk.

11) For dessert, a vegan and gluten-free persimmon bread – very popular!

12) Fresh seasonal fruit.

Quite a feast. Everyone was full yet energetic after the meal. None of that large turkey meal slothfulness. All in all a successful experiment. Even more interesting was that we did not really miss the old way at all. We ate well, felt great and still had left-overs.

I’m already thinking about Christmas.

As you get ready for more holiday meals, consider making a change. Although our change took us by surprise we came away with a great experience everyone could enjoy. With a little planning your family could adventure into a whole new way of embracing the holiday season. We certainly are going to now. If we can re-vegan Thanksgiving – the mother load of meals – then Christmas doesn’t have a chance.

In the coming week or so we will post some of the recipes listed above for you to use this year. In the meantime, here’s a little dressing recipe we just love using. Get those salads done right the next few weeks.

Vinaigrette dressing:

1) 1 cup olive oil (for strongly flavored greens you can substitute flax or hemp oil. Use walnut oil if you want a lighter dressing.)

2) 1/2 cup white wine or rice vinegar

3) 1/4 cup lemon juice or water

4) 1/2 teaspoon salt

5) 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

6) One pressed garlic clove

7) Optional: 1 teaspoon dried oregano, some black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Easy. Tasty. Healthy. Choices like this dressing are worth the change, not to mention the positive impact they have on your health. You can do it. If we could transform Thanksgiving, you can too. Just embrace the change.

Have any suggestions for alternative holiday feasts? Let us know. Until then – To Your Health.

Image courtesy of © Can Stock Photo Inc. / salpics32

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