Taking turkey off the Thanksgiving table Restricted diets necessitate non-traditional menu choices

Noah Isherwood, Campus Carrier asst. arts and living editor

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As we sit down to dinner on Thanksgiving, we may wish to remember the members of our community making more non-traditional menu choices. These two stuffing recipes are catered to vegetarians, or vegans, and those who eat gluten-free diets, like the two students featured above. 

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, those with stricter diets, whether by choice or necessity, are beginning to think of how the menu for their holiday feast will need to be altered. Having a restricted diet necessitates careful planning on a daily basis, but this planning seems to take on more significance at Thanksgiving. 

There are many different reasons for adopting a restricted diet. For some, like sophomore Malia Busenitz, it is a philosophical choice. 

“I am a vegetarian for environmental reasons,” Busenitz said. 

Others, such as sophomore communications major Halle Teague, have a restricted diet out of necessity for health reasons. 

“I have celiac, so basically I’m unable to absorb the gluten protein inside a lot of grains like wheat,” Teague said. 

These restrictions on meat and wheat can cause issues around Thanksgiving, given the fact that so many Thanksgiving staples are comprised of one or both. 

“I’m not able to have stuffing, I’m not able to have dinner rolls, or like a lot of the pies or cakes or anything like that,” Teague said. 

The inability to consume food with gluten takes many Thanksgiving foods off the table, quite literally. Teague said that she and her mother, who also has celiac disease, must be very conscientious about the preparation of their Thanksgiving dinner so as to avoid cross-contamination, but that it is not a huge problem as Thanksgiving takes place at home where they can control the preparation of their food. 

As for Busenitz, the fact that meats, such as turkey and ham, are the centerpieces of Thanksgiving dinner is frustrating but not entirely impossible to deal with. 

recipe2 copy2.jpg“There is truly so much food at Thanksgiving that there are a lot of options, at least for me at my Thanksgiving there’s so many options that it’s not as hard as you would think,” Busenitz said. 

Many of the side dishes at Thanksgiving are almost entirely meat-free, so Busenitz has more choices than it may seem. In fact, she does not find Thanksgiving to be terribly different from her daily life in regards to diet. 

“That’s kind of how it always is. I know that Thanksgiving, yes turkey is like the symbol, but in almost every meal the meat is the main dish, especially in our culture,” Busenitz said. 

Thanksgiving is a holiday filled with many traditions, some of which are still being created. Busenitz and Teague are among many this Thanksgiving who are choosing to create new traditions for their Thanksgiving menus, both for philosophical and health-related reasons. In the future, these choices may well become more widespread traditions as more members of our community adopt restricted diets. 

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