The Greatness of Gratitude

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.”
Melody Beattie

Thanksgiving is coming up—one of the most beautiful days of the year!

leavesThanksgiving Day is an extremely important holiday in the United States.

Always celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, it is a day to enjoy the bounty of life and the beauty of a home-cooked meal with loved ones.

It is a time to be grateful for everything we have.

Let’s learn a little bit more about the roots of this famous celebration.

The History of Thanksgiving

leafIn September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England and headed to America. It was carrying 102 passengers, a mix of religious separatists who were seeking a place to practice their faith freely, and other individuals who were seduced by the New World’s promise of prosperity.

Their trip was a treacherous one, lasting 66 days. When they finally arrived, they dropped anchor in Cape Cod, far north of their planned destination, which was the mouth of the Hudson River.

During the first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on the ship and suffered exposure, scurvy, and outbreaks of various diseases. In fact, only half the original passengers lived to see that first New England spring.

In March they went ashore and started building the village of Plymouth in earnest. They were helped by a Native American named Squanto, who taught them how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish, and avoid poisonous plants.

Squanto also was instrumental in helping the Pilgrims form a strong bond with the local tribe (the Wampanoag)—a relationship that would endure for more than 50 years.

In November 1621, the Pilgrims, who were delighted that their first corn harvest was successful, decided to celebrate. The feast, which lasted three days, was attended by 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans.

leavesWhile no one is 100 percent certain what was on the menu, historians believe they ate venison, ducks, geese, oysters, and lobster but not turkey.

While Thanksgiving Day was celebrated on and off since 1789, it was not until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln made it an official federal holiday. Legend has it that the President was convinced to create the holiday through a series of editorials by Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of the classic children’s song “Mary Had a Little Lamb”!

How to Celebrate a Plant-Based Turkey Day

A common question for plant-based eaters is, “How do I celebrate Thanksgiving when I no longer eat the turkey?”

Here are some tips for making Thanksgiving work for your plant-based lifestyle.

  • Plan Ahead: Talk to those who are hosting the gathering well in advance. Let them know what your eating preferences are and, if appropriate, suggest some simple recipes.
  • Bring Your Own Dishes: Another great idea is to bring your own dishes, with enough for everyone to get a taste of how delicious a plant-based Thanksgiving meal can be.
  • Focus on the Positive: Make sure to concentrate on what you CAN eat (versus what you cannot). Eating plant-based is a privilege, and maybe even some of the non-plant-based eaters will get inspired by your enthusiasm.
  • Be Thankful: Since Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude, it is the perfect time to give thanks for your health and how your plant-based lifestyle helps you enjoy a vibrant, healthy life.
  • Dr. Rosane Olivira and Mushroom and Sweet Potato Pot PiesRefrain From Judgment: You will likely share your Thanksgiving festivities with people who eat animal-based foods. Offer encouragement and acceptance, and be willing to answer questions. Remember that everyone is on their own path when it comes to eating choices.

Of course, the best way to enjoy your plant-based Thanksgiving celebration is with great recipes.

Like this one for Mushroom and Sweet Potato Pot Pies!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!