7 Reasons to Make Your Friendsgiving This Year Plant-Based

With the holiday season fast approaching, you may be envisioning the people, places, and, most importantly, the foods that it will most likely entail.  What plans will you conjure up with friends?  What new traditions will you create to last for years to come?  How will you decorate your space?  What recipes are you willing to try out this year?  Hopefully, one idea that came to mind was the possibility of a Friendsgiving.  Friendsgiving involves celebrating the season away from family, surrounded by your closest friends and a giant potluck of homemade foods.  This tradition, whose origins remain unclear even today, not only means the coming together of your favorite people for some relaxation and holiday celebration but also a chance to show off your culinary skills!  You might start researching Pinterest boards and Instagram pages beforehand in search of that one perfect recipe.  However, this year I challenge you to replace those animal product-heavy options with equally delicious, environment saving, vegan ones!  Picture this: instead of a depressing turkey or chicken adorning your dinner table, the sweet and warm aromas of sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, tofu stuffing, pumpkin pie and heaping bowls of enticing, steaming vegetable entrees cover your tablecloth.  There are a million reasons to make the switch to an entirely plant-based diet.  So here are just seven, for the holiday season.

1. You can save the turkeys!

Every year in the United States, around 300 million turkeys are killed.  The vast majorityof those are during the holiday season.  Huge corporate turkey farms oftentimes drug, beat and even cut off their beaks while keeping them in crowded, windowless sheds.  Baby turkeys never see their own mothers and grow up to become an unhealthy weight that their bodies cannot sustain.  By refusing to give the turkey industry a cent, we can speak with our own buying power and hopefully put an end to these immoral practices.  We may not see these changes overnight, or even in the near future, but every time we speak with our dollar, companies are forced to respond to that demand.  So this year, opt for a more ethical, and nutritious entree like tofurkey!

2. It might even kickstart your health journey!

While the holiday season can mean memories that last a lifetime and heart-felt traditions between friends and family, it can also mean that caring for our bodies takes a backseat.  It can be easy to get lost in a sea of unhealthy treats that we immediately regret eating afterward.  However, choosing a plant-based route, even if it’s just for this one Friendsgiving, can save 1,390 calories and 523 grams of cholesterol, and even adds 20 grams of fiber!  There are millions of easy vegan holiday recipes out there that don’t sacrifice taste and add so much more to your health by nourishing with real ingredients.  Who knows, you might even decide to continue your vegan journey through the rest of the holiday season and into those New Year’s resolutions!

3. More available ingredients.

Imagine it’s the day before your big Friendsgiving celebration and you are scrambling to find that perfect turkey for your guests.  You go to five different grocery stores and one after the other is wiped clean of what you need.  However, you notice that they all have an ample abundance of one thing... vegetables!  Every grocery store’s produce section is a haven for all your vegan Friendsgiving needs and often times in more abundant supply than meat options.  Whether you choose a farmers market, community garden, co-op or a traditional grocer, vegetables from every region and season imaginable are be made available to us.

4. It saves money. (Your wallet will thank you later)

For those of us on a college budget, as I assume most of you are, the vegan route could even save your wallets the hefty cost of a meat-heavy meal.  In fact, a new study has shown that vegetarians save at least $750 per year compared to meat-eaters.  That means vegetable, grain, and legume products have considerably lower prices than their animal product alternatives.  This means more ingredients, more recipe opportunities, and even more bang for your buck!

5. Reduces your carbon footprint!

Today we are living in an age of countless environmental issues, but one that is receiving consistent attention is carbon emissions and for good reason.  Our environment is currently undergoing the largest rise in greenhouse gases and global warming ever experienced in its history.  Despite this being an international issue that requires the political coalition of nations across the world, there are still things we can do as a consumer to make whatever changes necessary, and one of those is the switch to a vegan diet.  In fact, a new study even shows that it could be the “single biggest measure” in reducing our carbon footprint.  That is a HUGE deal. While no one is expecting you to switch your entire diet overnight, hosting a vegan Friendsgiving this year could be the perfect foray into your environmental journey!  You might even save the planet in the process.

6. Goodbye Post-Thanksgiving fatigue.

You know that bloated, tired, just-want-to-take-a-nap feeling you get right after your big Thanksgiving feast?  Well, that might be caused by the red meats, dairy products, and even gravy on your dinner table containing high-fat content.  These products demand more from your body to break it down.  This leads to that fatigued feeling you just can’t seem to get rid of for days on end.  Don’t fret!  There is a simple solution!  Replacing all those foods with nutritious plant-based ones leads to more energy after a meal and way less bloating.  I have noticed a significant change in my body’s response since going vegan and I never want to go back to those post-turkey feelings.  So, switching to an all-vegan Friendsgiving this year could mean more time spent being active with friends after your big feast (charades, anyone?) and less time recovering!

7.)   Believe it or not, you could even help stop world hunger.  Seriously.

A ton of resources and land requirements are hidden within our Thanksgiving plates.  For instance, a typical 16-pound turkey needs “48 virtual pounds of corn, soy and other feed crops”, which could all go towards feeding the billions across the globe currently suffering food shortages.  If we took all the crops that the agriculture industry uses to raise the world’s turkeys every year and allowed them to be distributed amongst our growing population, food insecurity could be one step closer to a resolution.  Again, while one all-vegan Friendsgiving won’t actually stop world hunger, it reveals to corporations our consumer demands and could lessen their own appetite for wasteful production of meat.

There are many reasons we should adopt veganism into our diets.  These include everything from ethics, to the environment, to our own health.  During the holiday season, this switch can be specifically difficult as it is inundated with animal products in the form of cookies, pies, stuffing, etc.  However, when we place ourselves in a more meaningful context, these treats become less and less attractive and the care for ourselves and the world around us takes precedent.  In fact, we do not even have to sacrifice eating these tasty treats as virtually every single recipe can be made plant-based.  It tastes just as good, and feels even better! Hosting just one vegan Friendsgiving could do more for ourselves and the earth than we ever could have imagined.  So this year, get in the kitchen to cook up your best vegan meals, invite over your closest friends over and give the gift that keeps on giving!

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