Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Imagine gratefully sitting down at the table for a classic American Thanksgiving meal, only to notice the glorious turkey is nowhere in sight.
As strange as it sounds, a survey shows there are around 7 million Americans identifying as vegetarians; meaning this Thanksgiving they will intentionally pass on the traditional turkey, ham, and chicken-infused dressing.
If you happen to be in a room of 100 people right now, look around you: Statistics would predict that 3 of those people are vegetarians; meaning they choose not to eat meat.
Cue the Shell family from Nashville, Tennessee. Every time they walk into a room of 97 people, they become the token vegetarians.
How is it possible to have a Thanksgiving meal without any meat? Doesn’t that somehow defeat the purpose of the feast?
Nick Shell, father to 2 year-old Jack and husband to wife Jill, gives some insight on what will be on their Thanksgiving menu this year:
“We have this awesome recipe for vegetarian meat loaf. I know this sounds weird, but you make it with cottage cheese, bran flakes, French onion soup mix, chopped walnuts, and an onion. You mix it up in a big bowl then bake it in muffin tin in muffin form. It so believably tastes like real meat loaf, I often feel guilty when I eat it.”
While many of the Shell family’s daily typical meals are simple and based around whole wheat pasta, they plan to prepare some of their more special recipes for this Thanksgiving.
To accompany their “meat loaf,” they also plan to indulge in “baked spicy fries” and cucumber sandwiches on Jewish Rye bread. Of course, it goes without saying they will have a salad to start off their vegetarian Thanksgiving feast.
It sounds like the Shell family have their menu figured out for this year, but how would things be different if they were guests at someone else’s dinner instead?
“It’s actually not that big of a deal,” Nick explains. “When you live the extreme lifestyle of ‘no meat’ every day, you’re already accustomed to coming up with a Plan B. A lot of times, it becomes our responsibility to bring our Plan B with us to a dinner. We’ll volunteer to being a dish or two that we know will fill us, and that will also contribute to the meal as a whole, so others can enjoy it too.
For our son Jack, we seem to always be carrying out a bag of Cheerios and pouch of pureed veggies with fruit any time we drive him somewhere anyway. Or he can try what we’re having. So we really don’t have to worry about what to feed him; this lifestyle is all he knows. Even at his daycare, he’s used to being the only kid in class to have a separate vegetarian version of what the other kids are eating.”
But even with a fancy vegetarian selection, does a person truly enjoy their Thanksgiving as much as the other 97% of America? Nick shares his perspective on this:
“Honestly, I never really was a big fan of the Thanksgiving meal. For me, I always felt obligated to eat too much turkey and overcooked vegetables, becoming too lazy to escape whatever VH1 countdown was on TV. But now, as a vegetarian, I can be completely full, yet not feel bogged down. In fact, it’s becoming our tradition to go for a long walk after our Thanksgiving meal. Fresh air and sunlight are basically part of the menu too.”
Of course, vegetarians aren’t really limited when it comes to desserts. Sure, marshmallows and pudding are made from the skin and bones of pigs and cows; but other than that, a vegetarian can enjoy pumpkin pie, homemade cookies, and egg nog with the rest of the crowd.
However, if you are of the majority of America who will be eating turkey this Thanksgiving and the concept of a vegetarian Thanksgiving meal does not intrigue you, then there’s one more thing to be thankful for this year:
Be thankful you’re not a vegetarian.
To see the actual recipes of the menu items Nick Shell mentioned today, check out his Pinterest and click on his page called “Proven Vegetarian Recipes.” Then you can make your very own vegetarian meat loaf out of cottage cheese and bran flakes.