November 15, 2006 — Hortencia Armendariz of San Benito will celebrate a Thanksgiving meal with some friends.
There won’t be a turkey at the potluck, however, because the group will be celebrating the holiday vegan style.
Armendariz said celebrating Thanksgiving as a vegan isn’t as difficult as people might think.
“I believe difficulty is relative,” Armendariz said.
Armendariz said following the vegan diet isn’t difficult with some prior research, and people shouldn’t be shy about requesting food that fits in that diet.
“You don’t have to be afraid to ask (in a restaurant) if there is a vegetarian or vegan option,” Armendariz said.
A vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat, while a vegan does not consume or use any products that are derived from animals, including eggs, milk and cheese. Vegans also do not wear leather or wool.
Armendariz said she has been a vegan for eight years, and while living in the Rio Grande Valley, she has remained faithful to the vegan lifestyle.
Aside from vegetarian and vegan side dishes for the Thanksgiving potluck, Armendariz said the group will also dine on Tofurky, a tofu product processed to look like roast turkey with stuffing inside.
“They have it at Sun Harvest (grocery store in McAllen),” Armendariz said.
Armendariz said although the McAllen metro area has more vegan options, H-E-Bs in Harlingen are catching up. The Harlingen locations now carry organic produce and soy products.
“I’m grateful that the Harlingen grocery stores are having more options,” Armendariz said.
Patrick Bauer, a culinary instructor at Texas State Technical College, said it isn’t far-fetched to hold a veggie-only Thanksgiving.
“There’s no reason not to feast on vegetables,” Bauer said.
For Thanksgiving, Bauer said he recommends using seasonal vegetables like pumpkins and different varieties of squashes.
“Some squashes are so hearty, they can fill someone up, just as if they were eating meat,” Bauer said.
Bauer, who has been teaching at TSTC for 22 years, said he has always stresses the importance of vegetables to his students.
Like paint to artists, vegetables can add color and dimension to an edible masterpiece.
“Vegetables can really add color to the plate,” Bauer said.
Bauer said beets are a colorful addition to meals.
“Beets are becoming popular in salads,” Bauer said. “You can have beets, cheese and pecans in a salad, and it looks good on the table and is pleasing to the eye.”
A vegetable dinner isn’t only beneficial to vegetarians, Bauer said.
“We have quite a diverse population in Harlingen,” Bauer said. “You have a lot of retirees who might be worried about their health more than other people.”
Armendariz experienced some changes when she became a vegan.
“For me, when I became a vegan, there was a huge change in my body,” Armendariz said. “I lost a lot of weight.”
But Armendariz’s choice to become a vegan stemmed from feelings of compassion.
“I believe in human rights and pursing environmental rights,” Armendariz said. “I have compassion for living beings, so that’s why I became a vegan, but people have all different types of reasons.”
Armendariz is one of the founders of the educational Cochehua Vegetarian Collective.
Cochehua promotes the vegan lifestyle in the lower Rio Grande Valley, Armendariz said.
Cochehua is a Nahuatl word that means to awaken, Armendariz said.
“The group is a way to educate people about the vegan diet,” Armendariz said.
Members will be attending her potluck, Armendariz said. Several people have shown their excitement about making the vegan dinner, she said.
“Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and show fellowship and gratitude,” Armendariz said. “And you can do that without killing and eating animals.”
The Brownsville Herald