I can’t believe Thanksgiving is just around the corner! This day truly is one of my favorite holidays, even though I gave up eating meat decades ago. That’s because Thanksgiving really isn’t about a specific menu; the day represents enjoying the company of friends, family and loved ones. But how can we celebrate animals next week when we are surrounded by well-intentioned meat-eaters? Here are a few tips to help you not just survive the day, but even enjoy it (and make it as animal-friendly as possible):
1. Show off your bounty. If you are the one hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, lucky you! Move over, Tofurkey: There are so many wonderful options for a Thanksgiving feast, how does one choose? This article rounds up awesome recipes, such as Squash and Apple Puree (which looks delish!) and Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Chimichurri and Almonds. Oh She Glows, one of my favorite sites, shares a whole host of inspiring dishes, including Crispy Smashed Potatoes With Avocado Garlic Aioli and Gooey Pumpkin Spice Latte Pudding Cake. And don’t miss One Green Planet’s “25 Soups, Salads and Starters for Your Vegan Thanksgiving.” (The Buffalo Sweet Potato Stuffed Mushrooms look amazing!) Of course, if cooking’s not your thing, consider catering a few courses from Whole Foods or your local vegetarian restaurant. I promise you: No one is even going to miss the meat.
Christmas Eve: a time for good tidings, togetherness and … tea. Yes, tea! Tea may seem an unusual holiday tradition, but for me, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a cozy night in with family and friends. And ever since ditching my daily hot chocolate for healthier tea a few years ago, I’ve become something of a tea enthusiast—and not just on holidays.
I basically drink tea all day long when it’s cold out. Even in the summer, I love my tea in the cool mornings and chilly evenings. In fact, the only thing I love as much as my chocolate is my tea!
My favorite teas come from two companies in particular. I love them not only because their mint and chamomile tea is the very BEST in my opinion (and I have tried many teas!), but also because they are both socially conscious, which I love.
Here are my picks for seven of the best, most truly delicious teas:
1. My favorite tea brand is Mighty Leaf. They are a great company, and I absolutely love their Organic Mint Melange in the a.m.
2. My second favorite from Mighty Leaf is Chamomile Citrus in the p.m.
3. Their Organic Green Dragon is a fave of my friends who like their teas caffeinated.
4. & 5. My second favorite brand is Numi. I just love their Moroccan Mint and their Chamomile Lemon. They do a lot of giving back; check this out—they are a cool company!
6. My caffeine-drinking friends swear by Numi’s Chinese Breakfast tea.
7. My favorite loose leaf tea is from Mountain Rose Herbs. Their Firefly Chai is super delicious, and it’s the only chai I’ve ever found that is caffeine-free.
When Leah D’Ambrosio (my SARA co-founder) and I return to London in August 2015 for SARA teacher training, we will be looking for some great places for afternoon tea. (These look like top contenders!) London is such a hot spot when it comes to tea. This was our absolute favorite tea place last time we visited. You can bet we’ll be visiting it again!
And now for the secret to a perfect cup: According to a study commissioned by Cravendale Milk, the most important ingredient is patience. Click here for their step-by-step instructions.
I would love to hear from you! What are some teas I simply MUST try?
I became a vegetarian in 1987. That was … 28 years ago, woah! It was my freshman year at Berkeley, and I attended the Berkeley Animal Liberation Front’s “film night” and watched a movie about factory farming. Needless to say, I lost my taste for hamburgers on the spot!
Of course, going vegetarian presents some immediate problems–especially during the holidays. If you’re a vegetarian like me, you know what I mean. For instance, every year on Christmas Eve my family serves salami slices and cooks up traditional German sausage from a special meat market in Fresno, California. Then, the next morning, they fry up eggs in the sausage grease. And consider Thanksgiving: When I first became a vegetarian, while everyone else was gorging on turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and “in-the-bird” stuffing, I was left with plain potatoes and steamed veggies and maybe a soft bread roll. Not exactly my idea of a feast.
Luckily, my mom—who is an amazing cook—began to rethink some of her dishes to make them vegetarian-friendly. Not just for the holidays, but at all of our get-togethers. And while I still pass on the turkey and gravy at Thanksgiving, she now makes a delicious stuffing “outside the bird” that’s even better than the original recipe (according to me and my sisters, anyway). And we are better about making sure there are lots of other options, too, so that everyone has a full plate. It has taken some time, to be sure, and has required the embracing of new traditions. But, here we are. And now none of us “goes hungry” during holiday feasts.
This year, I have to be more creative than years past. Due to health reasons these post-cancer days, I am now mostly dairy-free and gluten-free. Yesterday I cooked up some special dishes to add to the feast this year. I brought my new favorite comfort meal: Lemony Lentil & Kale Rice Bowl.
Luckily, dessert is never a problem when you’re a vegetarian! And though I have cut down on gluten and sugar a lot, I’m happy I can still enjoy my ancestors’ simple but delicious Küchen recipe once a year; it’s a special coffee cake my mom serves on Christmas Eve and morning.
For more meatless holiday meal ideas and inspiration; check out these beautiful recipes from Martha Stewart.
These are our traditions; what are yours?