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The Essential Vegetarian

Avoiding Meat during the Thanksgiving Holiday

By Katie Jeffreys

Features Editor

Thanksgiving is once again upon us. The holiday of plenty is often awkward for vegetarians, who find themselves with a plate either half empty or filled with high-carbohydrate foods.

As a vegetarian daughter in a meat-and-potato family, Thanksgiving was always the holiday during which my vegetarianism became most noticeable. Family members I have not seen in a while note the absence of poultry on my plate and question my reasons. This makes for good dinner conversation (what better time to tell someone about the impact of meat production on animal rights and the environment than when they are eating it?), but the topic can get boring.

As a result of all this, I have developed tastes for many different fall flavors, including pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, etc.

In addition to traditional vegetables, there are many soy-based products intended to give vegetarians an appropriate choice for the Thanksgiving table. The University Park Star Market, Wild Harvest (Mt. Auburn St.) and Bread and Circus all sell Tofurky meals. The refrigerated or frozen “feasts” include not only the vegetarian stuffing-filled tofu-and-wheat-gluten “turkey,” but also tempeh drumsticks, “giblet” gravy, and two WishStixs made from Tofurky Jurky.

Oregon based Turtle Island Foods, Inc. has sold Tofurky since 1995 to high acclaim. The texture and color are much like real turkey. Plus, preparation time is much more quick, only forty minutes. The Tofurky Feast feeds four adults.

If animal rights are a concern to you, as a reason for being vegetarian or just in general, you may be interested to know that it is possible to support abandoned or abused animals from stockyards, factory farms, and slaughterhouses. Much like needy children, the animals can be sponsored (for just pennies a day) or adopted (of course adoption of livestock would be against the MIT pet policy).

The sponsored animals live at the “Farm Sanctuaries” located in New York and California. They have a special campaign during Thanksgiving which generates funding to pay for the food for turkeys at the Sanctuary. For more information visit <>

This week’s recipe is appropriate to serve at Thanksgiving dinner as a high-protein alternative to Turkey. Soups are surprisingly easy to make, although this one takes some advanced preparation. As always, feel free to e-mail me with holiday wishes or any feedback (seriously people, does anyone read this?) at <>. Finally, have a happy, relaxing, meat-free Thanksgiving.

Acorn Soup

1 acorn squash (about the size of a large softball), scrubbed on outside and cut into fourths (unpeeled)

1/2 cup dried white beans

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 cup onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

Vegetable bouillon / broth (dry, enough for two cups liquid broth)


Parsley sprigs and carrot curls for garnish

Soak beans overnight.

Rinse beans and put in large pot with 3 cups water. Add celery, onion, garlic, and bouillon, bring to boil, and then turn down to low (cover pot). Fill another large pot with water and bring to a boil.

Put the acorn squash in the boiling water and boil for about 10-15 minutes or until a fork poked into the inside feels like poking a well-done mashed potato. Remove the squash and set aside to cool.

Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the inside and purÉe in a blender or food processor. After the squash is purÉed, add it to the bean mixture. Finish cooking soup so that an hour has passed from when the beans started cooking.

If the soup is too watery for your taste, cook without the lid on for a while, or purÉe about a third of the batch (beans, onions, celery, garlic and all) and then add the purÉed ingredients back to the original batch.

Season to taste with pepper. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and a carrot curl. Serves 3.