Do you know the 1982 song Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder? We still live in a severely divided world. After a difficult election season, we might need to ask ourselves, how will we negotiate Thanksgiving and other upcoming holidays?

Next week many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving holiday asks us to bring dissimilar people together, to widen our circle of family and friends. Thanksgiving means just that, to give thanks for what we have. To celebrate the bounty of our lives – whatever it may be – with whomever we can. It is a lovely holiday and many peoples’ favorite because it is more about just being together than buying gifts.

But we have so many differences. Some of us like seitan over steak, tacos over burritos, dogs over cats, tofu over turkey, treadmills over the elliptical, open windows more than closed. Veggie Burgers or Black Angus? Some of us swear by android and others, Apple. Bow ties and suspenders? Hiking boots or heels? Polka dots or stripes, yikes!

Our differences are endless but our similarities are too. We crave love, safety, acceptance, peace within ourselves, and good health. We want to matter to someone, freedom to make decisions, trust is important as is meaningful work. Our similarities maybe more significant than our differences.

Right now our country appears to be focusing more on our differences than our similarities. Since this year is already extremely tense for some; toss something like eating only plants (gasp!) into the mix could be volatile!

What are we to do?

Here are few thoughts from a long time vegan:

TIP: If you are veg guest at someone’s house who doesn’t eat the same as you, please bring a main dish of some sort. If you are able, bring a few other smaller items as well, or a tasting sample of several dishes. Think how interesting it would be to bring a vegan “tasting bites” sampler for folks to try a bite or two? How fun to broaden culinary horizons one bite at a time! Celebrate Food Adventurers!

TIP: If you are having someone visit who eats mostly a plant based diet, please consider making the effort to provide more than standard veg side dishes. Experiment with a more substantial plant based main dish, stew, or soup. This will encourage the non-veg folks to try something new as well. Why not try this delicious grain based stuffing recipe instead, or some from the sites listed below?

TIP: Forget everything has to be homemade, it’s extra pressure! If you like to cook, then cook. If you don’t, buy prepared food. Simply do the best you can so that you arrive at the table with a beautiful smile and warm heart.

TIP: Check the moralizing at the door. No one wants to hear about the numbers of animals slaughtered, rising sea levels, sustainability, destruction of the rainforest, or anything else. Share your food and what you are grateful for. Full stop.  If you are asked questions about veganism, of course answer them but maybe in smaller groups of interested parties. Bottom Line: Please do not dominate the conversation despite being as excited as you are about how amazing it is to be vegan. I know it is, isn’t it!?!

TIP: If there are extremely challenging people at this year’s Thanksgiving gathering ask yourself if you need or want to see them. Get real. This year is different. Of course, we want to be as tolerant and compassionate as we can. When we combat hurtful comments it often escalates. When we act like a door mat we are tread upon. Can we effectively stand up to rude remarks with a joke, a deflection and change of topic, or not? Do we want to? How angry are we? Read more about dealing with anger in our families here. Each person has to decide for themselves what is best for themselves and their immediate family.

A SHORT STORY: For decades there was woman in our family who was very mean to me. She was mean to a lot of us! She made horrible remarks and was divisive. After years of trying, pushing it aside for the sake of the family, it became a toxic, festering, wound inside me. My anger was unbearable. I decided to let her go and never see her again. It felt good! Years later, I learned she died a horrible, lonely, death isolated from everyone. Although I was sad for her, I felt proud of myself for not burning up in rage. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself and your loved ones.

If you are lucky enough to have interested, engaging friends who want to learn more about the wonderful world of veganism, count your lucky stars and make the most of this beautiful holiday. Capitalize on the moment, (justifiably called a “teachable moment”) and follow up with them. See if you can do more together around food. Go marketing, eat of course, (!!) swap recipes, connect on social media around vegan food, compassion for animals, or environmental concerns. See how you can encourage more experimentation, more enthusiasm, and more knowledge why and how you can transition to a plant based diet. Heck you can even share my educational video program and Facebook page with them to learn more!

Check out the library, do a search online, there are ton of vegan recipes out there!

A few classic recipes sites to browse include:

One Green Planet
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
T. Colin Campbell
VegNews

Happy Eating! Happy Thanksgiving! May we live in perfect harmony.