Advertisement

Mixing vegans with Thanksgiving

Your teenager has gone vegan. Is it OK to ask the relatives to make her a special Thanksgiving meal?

November 21, 2012|By Heidi Stevens, Tribune Newspapers

Parent advice

From our panel of staff contributors:

An elderly relative went to some extra lengths to provide foodstuffs for a younger vegan relative one recent holiday. The relative read the fine print on a cheese package labeled "vegetarian" and told our elder — apologetically — that it contained casein, which is an animal protein, and therefore she couldn't eat it. For that reason, it is good for the vegan (or her guardians) to bring some provisions and offer in advance to prepare and share them. Ideally the host also will prepare some items that meet the vegan's standards. That said, we all learned what casein was and it provided conversation fodder. Nobody cried or fell out over it.

— Wendy Donahue

Because the hosts are family, it's not at all unreasonable. A lot of Thanksgiving side dishes are vegan anyway, or can be so with a little adaptation. Portion off some cooked potatoes before adding butter and milk and mashing the rest, or toss a foil-wrapped sweet potato in the oven to cook as the turkey does. And you can make at least some stuffing without giblets or butter. Just be sure the relatives know what vegan means.

Advertisement

— Phil Vettel

In an ideal world, the host every year would inquire after the dietary habits and restrictions of Thanksgiving guests as tastes and dietary requirements change. In the real world, you must be prepared to provide for your daughter yourself. I'd call the hosting relative and say something like, "Now you know, Uncle Beefy, Little Suzie Seitan is a teenage vegan now. So, we'll bring what she can eat with us." Hopefully, whatever that is will need, at most, a quick zap in the microwave. Don't assume the ideal host has the ideal number of free burners or ovens for your use.

— Bill Daley

*

Expert advice

As with so many things at the intersection of your own kids and everyone else, a balance must be struck between honoring your daughter's ideals and respecting your larger family's feelings.

"I think the overarching priority is to be sensitive to your host," says Homa Sabet Tavengar, author of "Growing Up Global: Raising Children To Be at Home in the World" (Ballantine/Random House). "But you also want to honor your teenage child standing up for something she believes in and wanting to do something rigorous."

Thanksgiving, after all, does not belong solely to the host — or to his or her guests. Ideally, it's a coming together of the two.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles
|
|
|