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It’s the Thanksgiving I dreaded.

On either side of me, plates are heaped with food. Thick slabs of turkey glide on gravy and nudge a puffy mashed potato mound. A dinner roll sits atop green bean casserole, marshmallow goo blankets sweet potatoes and butter smothers it all. Pies lay in wait.

My vegan plate remains bare, a slap in the face to the pilgrims (who, if we’re honest, deserve it).

Even the corn is bathing in a cream mixture and the canned cranberry is kept in its appealing tube shape because of gelatin. There is nothing for me to eat.

“Let’s get ready to rumble!” I whisper to my stomach in my best announcer tone. Luckily, the football game on TV drowns out the thundering of my insides.

I think overall, I ate one square of a graham cracker I found in my grandma’s pantry, paired with a scoop of mixed vegetables she had left over. I would have been better off at the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving feast – I can eat most toast, pretzels, popcorn and jelly beans.

Thanksgiving is not such a fun and feasting holiday for me or many vegans and vegetarians in omnivore households.

Whining aside, I understand that being vegan or vegetarian is an individual’s choice. It’s a “laughable” millennial trait to be vegan, like avocado toast and paying way more than cranky old men did for schooling and actually caring about people who aren’t white. Crazy what we kids are doing nowadays.

Oftentimes, once free from parental guidance and mom’s supper on the table at 6 p.m. sharp, college students decide to adopt a different dietary approach. This choice may be with the intention to lose weight, help the environment or something else entirely. Whatever reasoning, any diet will likely be difficult to follow at times, including and maybe especially, on Thanksgiving.

Since no one is accountable for what you put in your body besides you, it is good to come to Thanksgiving prepared. Because you cannot expect everyone to cater to your needs, you may want to come equipped with food that you can eat, so your starving body does not cave in to the delectable goods outside of your intestines’ comfort zone. Maybe try cooking your own infamous Tofurkey.

Another option for those with open-minded Thanksgiving hosts is to suggest and provide slight tweaks to classic dishes. As the one following the diet, you likely have more expertise in how to alter food enough that it can be enjoyed by you, without disrupting others’ meal.

For example, vegan butter is a couple bucks more expensive and undetectably different from regular butter. The same goes for dairy-free milk alternatives. Just these two substitutes can make a massive difference in what you can and cannot consume this year.

So, my fellow grass grazers and leaf lovers, I encourage you to stay strong in your beliefs during this trying time. Sometimes it takes more effort and will power to lead this lifestyle, but I believe we can get through this holiday that’s mainly for flesh feeders.

To any meat lovers with a vegan or vegetarian in your family… please consider making at least some dishes your veggie loving loved one can consume this Thanksgiving. We’d really appreciate it and will be less hangry answering relatives’ annoying questions.

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