Monday, 14 October 2013

Giving Thanks: a vegan cashew cheesefest

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that I can't get enough of Autumn or Thanksgiving.  I wait for them all year round.  I love the sense of change in the air, I love the changing of the colours (the amazing golds, purples, and reds are something I miss des-per-ate-ly about Canada), and I love the idea of the Earth giving up its bounty for us.  And I love that we have an entire holiday devoted to feeling gratitude for this bounty.  Sound a little hippyish and cashew cheesy?  Get used to it.

I know sometimes vegans have a hard time feeling gratitude.  Gratitude for what, you might be asking.  For the billions of animals who live and die in terror everyday?  For the millions of people, lacking real nutritional education and healthcare killing themselves with animal products?  For the disappearing rain-forest being used to farm cows for human consumption?  Yeah, for those things.  Kidding!  And yet, I feel that I have plenty for feel thankful for, especially as a vegan.  And if you'll be so patient, I'd like to enumerate some of the reasons.

So many people see vegans as judgmental and self-righteous, thinking that we see ourselves as superior and holier-than-thou.  Truthfully?  I mostly just feel grateful.  Grateful that some niggling little thought in the back of my mind drove me to return to the idea of veganism before I ever even realized I was interested.  Grateful that I had the time to read the information.  Grateful that for whatever reason, at that time, I was open and receptive and willing to act.  Grateful that this little word, vegan, came into my thoughts and heart and actions and changed my life forever.

I'm so grateful for every little thing that lead to this change.  Access to the internet.  An affection for research. Living in a country with easy access to abundant, healthy vegan food. Farmer's markets.  Tofu and tahini and cashews and kale and spinach and chocolate and almond milk and potatoes.  The knowledge of how to feed myself cheaply and healthfully.

And I'm grateful for specific people.  A lot of them.  Here's just a small sampling.  Thank you to Alicia Silverstone, Rory Freedman, Kim Barnouin, and Colleen Patrick Goudreau for giving them information that blew my mind wide open and left me with no other option than to become vegan.  Thank you again to CPD and Alicia, as well as, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero and the Moosewood Collective (not vegan, but they always have plenty of plant based recipes) for keeping me in delicious, interesting vegan recipes.

Thank you to Jack Norris, Ginny Messina, Joel Furhman, John McDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn, and Colin Campbell for giving me endless amounts of nutritional advice, information, and resources, and turning me into a leafy green fanatic.

Thank you to my big brothers, whom I'm sure will never ever read this, for paving the vegetarian way for me in our family, and for teaching me to question the world around me.  Thank you to my mother for teaching me to view the world with compassion.  Thank you to my father for teaching me it's okay not to accept the status quo.  And for teaching me how to hold a kitchen knife properly.

Thank you to my sweet Daniel for, despite his carnivorous ways, supporting me, going to vegan events and restaurants with me, and interrogating our waiters and waitresses on every ingredient in my dinner. Thank you to my dear friend Lindsay for opening her mind and heart to the information I gave her, and attempting to change her cheese loving ways.  Thank you to my other dear friend Jean for deciding to take a stand for the fishies.  Thank you to my wonderful and witty partner-in-crime Emma, for constantly seeking out new information and flirting with vegetarianism.  Thank you to my lovely, kind co-worker Natalie, for opening her great big heart to new information and jumping into veganism with full-force.

Thank you to those who do work I could not do to give animals a voice.  Investigative journalists and slaughterhouse workers who document what goes on behind closed doors are rare, valuable heroes, and I'm so thankful that they do the work that most people would not be brave or strong enough to do.

Thank you to Sparky, Stanley, Buster, Sophie, Molly, Jasmine, and Livia for letting me love you for your too-short time on this earth.  Thank you to all the animals who learn to forgive and love humans, despite everything we do to them.

And thank you, dear readers, for just being awesome.