Mention Thanksgiving and Americans immediately think of family get-togethers and the waft of spiced pumpkin pie, while for the rest of us it conjures up an image of Monica with her head stuck in a giant turkey in a particularly hilarious episode of Friends.
Once the preserve of the US, Thanksgiving – which began as a national holiday for the blessing of the harvest and preceding year – is now celebrated around the globe, uniting people from all backgrounds to symbolise intercultural peace and participate in a common tradition.
From football games to street parades and huge balloons, Thanksgiving pulls out all the stops, with the traditional meal typically including turkey, bread stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, and that pumpkin pie.
But one of the world’s busiest holidays is always going to impact the planet, unless we choose to think ahead wisely. So here’s how to celebrate this traditional fare while remaining truly thankful and to our beloved earth.
Delicious Vegan Alternatives
So many aspects of a traditional Thanksgiving meal are fully vegan. Create mouthwatering dishes with sweet potato, parsnips, onion shallots, cooked beetroot and cranberries, and sparkle with walnut, mandarine and herbs. Brussell sprouts are a firm seasonal favourite too! Kibson’s has created a special DIY Vegan Box ( AED 260) including all of the above and this can be delivered to your doorstep.
Re-use Your Food
A staggering 200 million pounds – 100000 tons – of turkey are thrown out during Thanksgiving each year. Not only is this wasteful, but think about how many creatures have been killed and then mindlessly disposed of.
The wasted resources involved in the process are estimated to equal the water to supply New York City for 100 days, and the carbon footprint of 800,000 cars driving from Florida to LA. So go for a vegan alternative and don’t throw your food away! Start by estimating a realistic portion and don’t cook more than necessary. Check your cupboards for food you can use now before you buy new. Tell your guests to bring a reusable container and take leftovers home for lunch the following day. Save some leftovers for yourself too…a Thanksgiving fry-up drizzled with onion gravy is a surefire winner.
Use Reusable Cutlery and Plates
Thanksgiving might happen during autumn, but many celebrations will take place in states and countries with a warmer climate. Where alfresco dining is an option, don’t be tempted to get single-use cutlery and plates just because it makes the clean-up ‘easier’ or because it might look more aesthetically pleasing.
The fallout from this mindset is unsustainable and contributes to landfills. The best eco-friendly alternative is to use what you have. If you don’t have enough spoons or bowls, ask a guest to bring some from their home. Or you could buy second-hand, the most sustainable way to shop. If disposable cutlery is your only option, choose eco-friendly materials like bamboo that are easily compostable or biodegrade fast.
Resist Black Friday Deals
Tempting as it is, Black Friday – which happens around Thanksgiving – promotes overconsumption. It’s a clever marketing tool, disguising sales as incredible opportunities you’ll be sorry to miss, when really, you’re just buying stuff you don’t need. Sure, you’re saving 30 per cent, but you’re also spending 70 per cent. Who’s the real winner here? Of course, buy something you genuinely need and make the most of the bargain. But all the frills and feathers? Let’s face it, they’re going to end up shoved into a cupboard, until they break, and then sadly, they’ll end up in the bin.
Plastic tat is unfashionable as well as harmful to the earth, ending up in landfill. So consider some alternative decorative options, such as making card name places and getting each member of your party to write a message of gratitude on the back of another person’s card. Ask the children to create turkeys out of card and paper. Turn any empty glass jar into a candle holder. With a dab of glue, stick on some Fall leaves to give the jar a truly festive look. And keep your toilet rolls! Cut them into two-inch wide rings and write a thankful saying on them, then use as napkin holders.
Love the Great Outdoors
Connecting with nature, in any of its forms, is a celebration of gratitude in itself. Whether you decide on a family walk in the woods, an evening stroll on the beach or just a run around with the kids at the local park, the more we appreciate being outdoors, the more we see the beauty of this earth. And you want to protect something so beautiful, right?