The leaves are just beginning to turn golden at Friends of Animals headquarters in the northeastern United States. Orchard-fresh apples, peaches and plums abound at the farmers’ markets; squashes and gourds will soon be ready for harvesting. The days shorten, young people rush off to their studies, and their elders are welcoming time for self-reflection. We’ll soon be hearing of giving thanks, perhaps visiting with relatives we rarely see, and exchanging wishes of peace on Earth.
Gratitude is important; it reminds us how to look for the good in the world, acknowledge it, and inspire positive feelings and energies. “Thank you” is too important a phrase to utter without meaning. A holiday filled with peaceful products of Earth’s natural bounty is something for which we can give thanks.
Traditions are changing. We used to give thanks to, or for, the turkey we’d consume full of stuffing. Then we would eat as much as humanly possible and toss out a lot of grocery bags.
We never stopped to consider the idea that turkey farms are built on the open spaces that wild turkeys once enjoyed. We gave thanks for the land on which we built new nations, but we didn’t ask whether humans should keep taking up so much of that land. We gave thanks, but in doing so, we really took so much for granted.
We live and learn.
Now, the focus is on life-affirming foods, fresh, whole, and lively, picture-perfect as they are nutritious. Now, it’s about our gratitude for knowing our meal really matters. Now, we’re eating as though the Earth and the beings who live on it count.
While the president is pardoning a token turkey, I know that many of you, our members and readers, will be offering your families and communities real guidance. Your work is to be praised and treasured. If we all ate and celebrated mindfully, opting out of resource-costly animal agribusiness, we could greatly reduce energy consumption, feed humanity, spare forests full of trees, and make our world a far more joyful spot in the universe.
Donald Watson and friends coined the term “vegan” in 1944 to describe a vegetarian movement that adopted and applied the values of conscientious objection. In other words, to withdraw our support from animal agribusiness would be our declaration of peace to all conscious beings. Thus, the movement was founded on an express commitment to reverence for life. Watson was a great idealist who said if the commitment to “non-exploitation” would take hold, it would be the greatest peaceful revolution ever known.
And in this time of climate disruption, it’s becoming clear that armies and weapons are not the only threat to peace on Earth. There is also the cutting down of trees, the polluting of rivers, and the loss of the unique web of beings: bees who pollinate the almonds, birds who bring seeds across the miles. What we decide to eat plays an essential role in keeping birds on the wing and bees abuzz.
Peace on Earth is too important to be folded and stuffed in an envelope once a year. It really does mean the end of wars, whether on animals, on each other, or on the planet.
Once we become conscious of the vital role our food plays in a movement for peace, we begin to understand just how powerful each of us is as an agent for change. That’s why we have introduced the Friends of Animals cookbook, Dining With Friends. It makes a great holiday gift, one that supports animal advocacy at the same time it gives your friend or relative pleasure.
Here is a sample menu for the season that we included in our cookbook, and one of the recipes it features. As much as possible, we recommend selecting organic ingredients. Enjoy!
Autumn: A Time of Thanksgiving
Carrot Pâté, served with wheat crackers and celery
Pumpkin Bread with Dates and Pecans
Walnut Pear Salad with Celery Seed Dressing
Tempeh London Broil
Mashed Yukon Potatoes
Spiced Orange Broccoli
Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake
Spiced Orange Broccoli
A member of the cabbage family and a close relative of cauliflower, broccoli offers one of the highest nutrient-to-calorie ratio of any popular vegetable. A hint of pepper and citrus gives this broccoli dish an appealing glow.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced shallot
Rind of 1 orange, chopped
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
l large bunch broccoli florets, cut into uniform pieces
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Sauté first five ingredients in large frying pan over medium heat until garlic and shallots have softened, stirring frequently.
Add broccoli to pan; cook and stir 1 minute. Add orange juice, vinegar and salt. Cover and steam for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-high heat. Drizzle with sesame oil. Toss and serve hot.