Growing up, Thanksgiving at our house was always…
…a time of lots of food, family and friends. Every year, without fail, my mother would insist on getting a colossal, fresh turkey from our local grocer and then spend days prepping and finally cooking it. Truly our Thanksgiving meal was all about the meat.
But not everyone in our household was thrilled about the meat-a-palooza. As blasphemous as this may be to admit out loud, the turkey was never what I was excited about. Meat was just something I had to eat to get to the good food like stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy and dessert.
So, perhaps it comes as no surprise, that when I struck out on my own I became a quazi-vegetarian. By that I mean I only ate meat when dining out when social rules dictated that it was the polite thing to do, like at someone else’s home or at the insistence of my menacing grandmother. I was like a social smoker, but with meat, a social meater, I mean meat eater.
In fact, when I met my partner I secretly harbored hopes of raising children who also didn’t eat meat and maybe even find a way to convert him. Little did I know what a die-hard carnivore I was committing myself to.
Within weeks of cohabitating I was back on the meat train and had completely surrendered the fantasy of being a vegetarian. My reason? He was a fantastic cook and I hated cooking. The good ol’ path of least resistance.
The thought of becoming a vegetarian didn’t rear its legumed head again until several years later when we adopted our girls. However, I knew convincing them to go the veggie route was something I would have to lobby for on my own. But how would I get my tiny carnivores on board?
Then opportunity presented itself by way of a Thanksgiving miracle. My partner had excitedly announced that we would be having a fresh turkey for this year’s feast and that the people who owned the farm where our turkey lived had graciously invited us over to meet our dinner while it was still alive. This was my chance I thought. Surely my daughters would look at that sweet turkey face and think, “I can’t eat that bird. It has a soul.”
I gravely miscalculated their reactions.
Instead of swearing off meat for the rest of their lives, I got reminded about the circle of life by one of the twins, while the other pointed to the fattest bird and said, “I will eat that one.”
My oldest daughter, then six, sensing she needed to throw me a bone, said she would consider being a vegetarian with me if she could eat bacon. Oh and steak. She would be a bacon/steak-atarian…for me.
So we eat meat. And on Thanksgiving we eat a lot of it. And instead I look for other ways to feel a little less horrible about eating our feathered friends. Like by making sure that our turkey has lived a good life and had a humane ending.
And, for my sanity, I try mightily to avoid the Thanksgiving meat splash zone that occurs while my family of carnivores digs into tender flesh with the same relish and gusto I imagine a Tyrannosaurus Rex family might.