A Plant-Based Thanksgiving

Due to environmental pressures, family health concerns, and growing awareness from information learned in a health psychology course this semester, I have been meat free for nearly 3 months.  This health psychology class, instructed by Professor Donna Axton, specializes in awareness of the importance of nutrition, diet, education, and environmental stressors which impact a variety of different health outcomes.

Diathesis Stress Model – Predispositions to negative physical or psychological diseases are activated by the presence of environmental or psycho-social stress.

Did you know that the food pyramid or “plate” represented as a healthy meal, is not necessarily what we should be ingesting?  Those same government programs are often funded by milk and dairy corporations which have existed for decades.  There is no doubt a need for farming in this country.  Especially at a smaller level which can increase community collectivism and decrease our environmental footprint.  However, major farms could do their part to stop focusing on maximization of profits and instead switch to sustainable and healthy alternatives.

Did you know that consuming meat is extremely unsustainable for the planet and can not continue at the rate that it is occurring?  Meat production and consumption is one of the largest environmental risks and contributes to fossil-fuel energy consumption.

Did you know that dairy has been linked to many detrimental cardiovascular outcomes, clogged arteries, higher blood pressure, cancer, obesity, gastrointestinal issues and even exposure to the same hormones and chemicals that the animals are treated with?

Due to some of these facts (and many other ones) I attempted to have my own Vegetarian dinner.  And I’m happy to announce IT IS POSSIBLE!!!

We had vegan butter and used almond milk to make mashed red potatoes.  Vegan stuffing, vegan sweet potatoes (couldn’t find vegan marshmallows on time but they do exist) Home-made vegan gravy with vegetable broth that was amazing.  The green bean casserole was also vegan.  It’s pretty easy to eat an all vegetable diet.  Humans evolved to eat meat in colder climates when food was less available, but due to modern advances we do not need to eat meat anymore when we can find anything and grow anything we would like.

The hard part was the turkey substitute.  I will not lie to you, while vegan butter and cream cheese may be better than the real thing, and vegetables and fruits never get all, the Tofurkey we purchased was not that tasty.  The stuffing on the inside was good (and vegan) along with the included brownies which were to die for.  But the Tofurkey tasted like a wet crouton honestly. I still just felt good that I didn’t contribute to the harm of animals or the environment though, and I felt light and energized instead of stuffed like I usually am after eating.

Upon later investigation I found out that Tofurkey is the cheapest (it was 24 bucks) and most flavorless substitute to get.  Quitting meat and dairy consumption is pretty easy with all the alternatives.  Especially when you take into account the health detriments, hormonal imbalances, environmental stress, animal abuses, and in-sustainability of meat and dairy consumption.

I included pictures of dinner and some vegan ingredients you can find at places like Natural Grocers and Trader Joe’s (some I have even found at Walmart).  All in all it was an amazing Thanksgiving.  I hope you see from the pictures that it is possible!  I’m super proud of myself for accomplishing this for the first time ever and can’t wait to improve next year by being prepared with vegan marshmallows, vegan pies, and a better turkey substitute…

The only major downside I can say is there wasn’t any scraps to give the puppy!

 

Author: Ryan Knuppenburg (Senior Intern)

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