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Vegetarian nightmare

Maddie Daly | Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving: The one day a year where you can get away with eating literally all day long and doing nothing but sitting around feeling like you’re going to explode. Turkey, stuffing, cranberries, sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, green bean casserole … Sounds like heaven, right?

Wrong. Thanksgiving is an organic-loving vegetarian’s nightmare. Watching the toddler-sized bird being baked, fried or browned, then stuffed and pulled apart … I have to leave the room to keep my breakfast down. It’s not even that I feel bad for the turkeys (although baby turkeys are adorable; Google it and see) – I just can’t stand the muscle-y, dripping-wet texture and the irrational thought that I will accidentally bite into a bone.

Then, there is the preservative-filled “bread” that has been soaking in the bird’s bodily fluids for hours, appropriately named stuffing, the cranberries that slide out of the can in perfect cylindrical shape, still ribbed from the can’s contours, the browned marshmallows ruining perfectly delicious and healthy sweet potatoes, green bean casserole burying the actual green beans in fried onions, fat and oil … I think I’ll pass.

However, it’s just awkward to sit there with an empty plate while everyone else stuffs their faces, not to mention it is a huge insult to the cook. So whenever we travel to see family for Thanksgiving, I am forced to fill my plate with a little bit of everything and sit there hiding my scowl, nibbling and moving food around to give the appearance that maybe I had too many snacks during the day and can’t eat another bite … as I suppress my growling stomach.     
     
Come to my house for Thanksgiving and I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised. Not only do I cook half the food myself, but also it is fresh, natural and (partly) meat-free. Of course, my family rolls their eyes at my refusal to participate in the ritualistic eating of the turkey, but I know they secretly love my pumpkin ravioli, butternut squash and walnut risotto, sautéed green beans with bacon (confession time: I am a shameless bacon-loving ‘vegetarian’) and mashed sweet potatoes dusted with cinnamon sugar. This feast of healthy deliciousness is absolutely as fulfilling as the typical American spread, if not more.

So next Thursday as you’re slicing your gelatinous “cranberries” and violating your turkey by stuffing it with perfectly cubed bread, you’ll wish you were at my table. Now who wants some pumpkin pie?

Contact Maddie Daly at mdaly6@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.