I became a vegetarian during my freshman year of high school, on Thanksgiving Day. I was fourteen years old and, excluding the first few years, when digesting such things would have proved difficult, I figure that I had between 10 and 12 traditional Thanksgiving dinners before purging myself of the consumption of flesh.
Earlier that year, I had met a girl who was a vegetarian, the first I had ever met. I knew such exotic creatures existed in the wild but the actual practice was something I had only heard about, not experienced. At the time, pizza and PB&J were about the only meals I knew of that fit the bill of vegetarianism. Now, even most steakhouses have something vegetarian on their menus.
The first record of vegetarianism comes from the writing of Pythagoras around 500 BC. The idea of treating other species with respect and dignity remains a tough one for most people these thousands of years later but it is estimated that there are about 10 million Americans who currently observe a vegetarian diet. It seems to me that the practice is gaining credibility with young people, and that has to be a good thing.
Thanksgiving Day is traditionally celebrated as a time to reflect on the good things in life: the things that are still bountiful as nature becomes stingier with her light and heat.
There are a lot of things to be thankful for this year. I am thankful for everyone who has gotten the vaccine, who wears a face mask and practices social distancing, for their help in overcoming a pandemic that currently sits at number 6 on the list of history’s worst.
It takes no effort to see what is wrong with the world. Just turn on your TV or scroll through some social media. It is easy to get angry, discouraged, or frustrated. But what is easy is often the enemy of what is useful. So, as you tuck into your meat- or plant-based feast today, it would be a good idea to take advantage of the opportunity this day gives us to stop everything else we are doing and reflect with gratitude on everything that is right with the world.
Here is a song of thanks from a few years back, from another world:
For the time you made me smile When you were crying all the while For the time you helped me see The other man who I could be I want to thank you I want to thank you For the time you held my hand When I had nothing but who I am For the time you said to me, "It's OK. Don't worry." I want to thank you I want to thank you