By Paul Graham,
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.” - Albert Schweitzer
I have noticed that many people have begun sharing thoughts of gratitude each day so far this month on social media and other ways. I think truly living in a place of gratitude is one of the most important things that we can do…not only for a month…but for every day of our lives. I believe it is a key to even more wonderful things coming our way. Some of our greatest times of growth come from showing gratitude even for things that don’t seem all that positive at the time for they teach us some of our greatest lessons. We are coming upon one of our favorite traditional American holidays…Thanksgiving. First celebrated as a time in our country’s history when the early settlers made it through a difficult period and celebrated their provision and gave thanks. I believe many still celebrate in the true spirit of the holiday…simple gatherings of friends and family and sharing thoughts of love and gratitude with one another around a celebratory table.
Thanksgiving has also become a time for so many other things like football, parties and a gateway into an over-commercialized holiday shopping season. I would say that in many ways it has lost much of what the holiday was intended to be. I also believe that celebratory table is not about seeing how much we can eat, but taking a moment to pause and truly be thankful for what we do have and hopefully set a tone for the rest of the days of the year as well. Thanksgiving has taken on a new dimension for me these past six years since I have become vegan. As I have been preparing food and partaking of it since making a change to a cruelty-free lifestyle, it has released a whole new level of gratitude in my life. I am thankful that in all that I am doing…and all that I am eating, that no living being is being harmed by my actions. There is a true sense of joy in that. There is no way that I could reconcile the blessings in life that I enjoy while partaking of food that was provided at the expense of the life of another living being. I could never again in my life give thanks for that.
An estimated 46 million turkeys will have their lives taken so that they be the centerpiece of so many “celebratory tables.” There is certainly nothing about this for the turkeys to celebrate. They are separated from their mothers at birth and have no nurturing whatsoever. They are pumped full of doctored feed and drugs to help them to grow as quickly as possible. They are mutilated without painkillers. They are not given time to form the deep emotional bonds that they are capable of having. Artificially inseminated and abused. Many are broken and bruised on the transport to slaughter…their lives cut far short of what they would normally be. Humane slaughter for any animal is a myth and no matter how they were raised, they still end up with the same fate. Millions are accidentally boiled alive each year in the process. Yet why, year after year, do we persist to hold up a tradition of thanksgiving and gratitude centered around a table of death and suffering. Let’s be honest…that is what is.
I would like to offer a challenge to anyone that is willing to take it…and that is to try something different this year.
I can assure you that it is more than possible to have an incredible meal, a true feast of gratitude, with delicious food that is free from animal products whatsoever. There are thousands and thousands of recipes available now that are so creative and beyond anything that you could imagine. Whether you are by yourself, or with family or friends, I encourage you to think about this and discuss the possibility of doing something different this year and celebrate with life on your table, and not death. I can guarantee you that nothing tastes as good as knowing that you are giving thanks and enjoying food that no animal had to suffer or die for. If this really sinks in for you, and I think that it will, you will realize that this holds true for every other day of the year as well. It is a time to think beyond ourselves and how are actions affect others. We need to live in a constant state of gratitude and we should not let anything hinder that. If you want to know gratitude at level you have never experienced before, then choose to partake of life for yourself and for the billions of animals that we share this planet with. Choose life. Now that is something we can truly give thanks for.
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog, Eating Vegan in Vegas which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas.
Paul’s e-book, Eating Vegan in Vegas: If It Can Happen Here, It Can Happen Anywhere is now available at www.sullivanstpress.com.