What do Vegetarians Eat for Thanksgiving?

No, the title to this post isn't the set up for a joke. Though I do know a yoga joke: How many Iyengar yogis does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Only one, but he'll need a strap, two blocks, four blankets, and a chair.

Okay, now I feel better. I actually was thinking about that joke on the way to work today, trying to find an excuse to put it into a post.

But the subject at hand is colleagues' and friends' fascination with what I'll be eating for Thanksgiving. I've been more or less a vegetarian since going to yoga teacher training three years ago. For two weeks, we were treated to amazing meals every night, cooked by the inhouse vegetarian chef. The idea probably was to get us hooked, and it worked. The more or less part comes in because I do eat bacon in spaghetti carbonara or on BLTs; I eat seafood; and I'm not now nor ever plan to be vegan. No cakes?? How does one persist under such conditions?

Being a vegetarian in the Midwest is, at least in my world, akin to traveling from some farflung exotic place to America. People are polite, curious, intrigued, and occasionally bemused. Always polite, though. And I try to be equally considerate. The best advice I read about being a vegetarian came in a cookbook by, I believe, Deborah Madison, who has written several good cookbooks as well as running Greens in California, one of the first gourmet vegetarian restaurants around. She suggests that when you go out for dinner and you are served something not vegetarian, that you reply "Thank you." Perhaps you taste it or not. The part that sticks with me is to not judge someone else's eating habits. Not only does the Golden Rule apply here. But eating certain foods or not doesn't make one a higher life form. It's another one of those differences that make us all so interesting.

So, for Thanksgiving, I'll be concentrating on the cornbread stuffing with apples; the mashed potatoes with gravy from scratch; slices of the mass market canned cranberry sauce that still has the lines from the metal can inscribed in it; and brussel sprouts, crisp and sauteed in the wok with some soy sauce. And a bite or two of turkey. Just the same meal I've always eaten, even before I became, more or less, a vegetarian.