Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas for the Newly Vegan

Holidays are the most difficult times of the year for those of us who become vegan later in life. I grew up in an Italian-American household, where every Christmas Eve, we would feast upon seven kinds of fish (as if one weren't enough.) Fried smelts, cod (baccala), spaghetti with lobster sauce, mussels, you name it. Then on Christmas Day we used to go to my grandmother's where a feast was ready that would put the one in Whoville to shame--antipasto, ravioli, ham AND turkey, tons of side dishes, cookies, cannoli, etc. To define our fondest memories by food alone is frankly silly--Christmas is about family after all. It is a waste of time now to lament all the turkeys and pigs we ate in this season of giving for so many years. While I miss certain tastes (my grandmother made the best sauce ever, but it was a meat sauce, and you cannot duplicate it with faux meat--I have tried), I know that it is very possible these days to have a delicious feast devoid of the suffering of animals.

As many of us celebrate the birth of Christ, it would be well to recall that He died for our sins and for our salvation. Those animals in the manger came to witness Man's salvation--they too share in the glory. They too are God's creations and His children. What better way to honor the Lord than to make your holiday meal devoid of suffering and death?

For me, this Christmas Eve, a yummy vegan clam clowder will be my main entree (a delicious recipe courtesy of VegNews magazine). And for the Day, a Celebration Roast with a red wine reduction sauce will be more than enough to satisfy my palate. Sure, these dishes are new--heck, I don't even have a pasta dish on the menu! We create new traditions to honor old values. We can still cherish the old memories when we honor the values of family and togetherness, NOT how we celebrated them.

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