Meatless Thanksgiving

Savanna Gharibian

(Nov. 22, 2011)– Senior Amalia Hakobyan first became a vegetarian when she saw a PETA advertisement involving a pig and a quote that read, “I have dreams too.” From that day on, she decided to be a vegetarian. According to USA Today, 3% of American between the ages of 8 and 18 are vegetarians. Approximately 3% of adults are vegetarians as well, and another 10% count themselves as vegetarians. Overall, vegetarianism has increased since about 10 years ago. Hakobyan’s mother thought she was joking when she decided to become a vegetarian, but she certainly was not. Hakobyan has kept her word and is a vegetarian to this day. Even though there is a turkey on the table, Hakobyan said it feels “pretty normal” to not take part in eating it. “Some people look at the turkey on the table and just want to eat it. I just see it as an ugly decoration. I have no desire to eat it,” Hakobyan said. “Thanksgiving is not really a big deal for a vegetarian like me — who’s been a vegetarian for so long — to see a turkey on a table.” Sophomore Saikiran Ramanan, a vegetarian for personal and religious reasons, said he doesn’t feel left out at Thanksgiving, as his family members are also vegetarians. Although very common among Indians, it is not a requirement to be vegetarian. It is a choice, and Ramanan chooses to be a vegetarian, he said. “If I can live without meat, then why should I eat it?” Ramanan said. Ramanan’s Thanksgiving does not involve turkey. “We’re thankful every day, so why do we need to be thankful on one day?” Ramanan said. Senior Dillen Maurer, a vegetarian, does not celebrate Thanksgiving traditionally. “I celebrate with a lot of friends and there is not necessarily a turkey,” Maurer said. He also does not feel left out. “Thanksgiving is not about Turkey, it’s about spending time with friends and family,” Maurer said . It can be somewhat difficult to prepare meat-free meals when only one member of the family is vegetarian. New vegetarians may even find it hard to adapt to the new ways of eating, especially when exposed to meat. Senior Sara Anis has been a vegetarian for about two and a half months, and is the only vegetarian in her family. Anis wanted to “try out” being a vegetarian and commit to it. Anis’ mother does not approve of her being vegetarian, as the rest of her family eats meat. With turkey on its way, it may be hard to resist, but Anis will be eating tofu turkey, or just no turkey at all. Despite her commitment to vegetarianism, Anis has been tempted. “I crave sushi all the time,” Anis said. In hopes of deepening her commitment to being a vegetarian, Anis has based her senior project on vegetarianism. Anis said she feels that in the end she will be learning a lot and will be happy with her decisions. Being vegetarian can have some health benefits year round, which can encourage a reduced-fat Thanksgiving meal. A vegetarian eating the same amount as a person that eats meat will intake less fat due to the lack of meat from their diet. Hakobyan said a vegetarian would probably eat less cholesterol, fat and sodium. Whether it’s turkey or tofu turkey, it’s all the same at the end. Thanksgiving was created not for the food, but to bring families and friends together for at least one day, to enjoy and appreciate each others’ company. Sophomore Patrick Manooki goes to his aunt’s house for Thanksgiving and considers this a tradition. “Our feast is a main part, but Thanksgiving is definitely a day to give thanks,” Manooki said.