Heap up on side dishes

Jeannine Snyder

Don’t eat the turkey.

It sounds simple enough, yet once everyone sits down at the dining table, things may not be so straight-forward. Peer pressure may set in coupled with the flavorful aroma wafting from the perfectly-cooked bird.


Sure, it smells like good ol’ home cooking, thanks to Mom’s expertise in the kitchen, but it’s really a tortured bird carcass that probably never saw the light of day sitting on that serving platter. (Plus, it’s the herbs and spices creating the mouth-watering aroma, not the carcass.)

On a more positive note, being vegetarian during such traditional feasts as Thanksgiving is just a few steps away.

The most important step for keeping all meat off the plate is asking for the ingredients of the side dishes a few days BEFORE the big feast.

“At family Thanksgivings, I just ate the side dishes,” said Stephen Mitchell, vegetarian for the last two Thanksgivings and senior French major.

Most turkey accompaniments are vegetable-, grain- or fruit-based, such as green bean casserole, stuffing, beets and cranberry sauce.

Call ahead and see what’s on the menu. Remind the cook a vegetarian is coming to dinner and ask about non-vegetarian ingredients that lurk in seemingly safe side dishes. Common culprits include gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and soup, which all may contain chicken stock.

If this happens to be the case, politely request a substitution with vegetable stock. It’s just as flavorful, so the non-vegetarians won’t notice a change – particularly since most of these dishes are served once or twice a year.

Another option would be the complete substitution of the turkey with a tofurkey. Find these bird-friendly concoctions of tofu, herbs and spices in health food stores, or take the time to make one.

Sophomore Emily Emery, an avid omnivore, prefers the texture tofurkey offers to that of a traditional turkey.

“Tofurkey is nice because it’s really consistent,” said Emery, who doesn’t care for the variations found throughout turkey meat.

Because of that, Emery said she would choose to eat a tofurkey instead of a turkey when give the opportunity.

Also, keeping in mind last week’s front page story of The Review about tainted pepperoni of Totino’s and Jeno’s brand pizzas, skipping the meat may lessen the chance of food-borne illnesses. Prepared in a similar fashion as a turkey complete with stuffing, but without the chance of cross-contamination with poultry juices, tofurkeys offer a tasty, healthy alternative.

If worst comes to worst and no one will make exceptions for the lone vegetarian of the bunch, stop by a grocery store and grab a variety of fresh fruit.

Just leave the turkey alone.