Thanksgiving and Tradition


Just a quick post today about Thanksgiving and the “tradition” of eating turkey…

I used to be all about tradition, especially with regards to Thanksgiving. I loved the food, the family, the football, everything. These days, the family/friends portion of it more than suffices. After becoming vegan, it eventually became clear: tradition doesn’t always equal “good” or “right” and thus shouldn’t be some sort of magical excuse able to be applied to anything that someone wants to do. As has been said many times before, there have been a lot of “traditions” throughout history that have been pretty evil. There is nothing implicitly good about something just because it’s the way it’s always been done.

With that, two things you should read:

To My Friends at Thanksgiving by Mary Martin,

Traditions are decided upon. They are consciously, intentionally repeated. And new ones can be created at any moment. I choose to opt out of traditions that cause harm and are the direct result of the exploitation and commodification of beings just like Charles, but who look a little different. And I want Baby Sky to grow up in a home where there is just as much respect for chickens and calves and fishes as there is for greyhounds and cats and people. Of course, the world outside of our home tells a different story. But we can bring our story to that world.

and my favorite of the Buddhist sutras, the Kalama Sutra (emphasis mine).

Do not go by revelation;
Do not go by tradition;
Do not go by hearsay;
Do not go on the authority of sacred texts;
Do not go on the grounds of pure logic;
Do not go by a view that seems rational;
Do not go by reflecting on mere appearances;
Do not go along with a considered view because you agree with it;
Do not go along on the grounds that the person is competent;
Do not go along because [thinking] ‘the recluse is our teacher’.

Kalamas, when you yourselves know: ‘These things are unwholesome, these things are blameworthy; these things are censured by the wise; and when undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill, abandon them…

Kalamas, when you know for yourselves: These are wholesome; these things are not blameworthy; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness, having undertaken them, abide in them.

2 Responses to “Thanksgiving and Tradition”

  1. Allison

    I like what you have to say about tradition and it’s so true that so much of what we seem to do around the holidays depends on it.

    I’m currently trolling vegetarian and vegan blogs to help promote my friends comic strip. Interested in a vegetarian/vegan comic strip? Check out Here are few of Lola’s Thanksgiving strips to give you taste of her topics. I hope that you will check out her site and pass it along.


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