Recently I've been hearing a lot of "if only" concerning vegetarian/veganism. For example, "If I had a vegan chef like Ellen, I could be vegan," or "If I cooked as well as my friend does, I could be vegan." You never hear, "If I could cook better, I'd eat more meat," or "I'd choose more pizza and gravy fries if I had a chef to make them for me." Cooking is a learned art whether you use animal products or not. These statements of "if only" do not make sense to me. The only one that does make sense, is "I'd eat less processed food if I a) had someone to cook for me or b) could cook better or c) actually enjoyed cooking." Processed food makes eating SO easy for Americans. Fast food, prepacked, frozen, however you look at it, processed food is ready to eat with no knowledge of cooking required.
I've read the same thing with other vegans: Dropping the animal products freed me in the kitchen. When the focus became the plant food and grains, I wanted to know more. I actually started reading cookbooks for FUN. I wanted more information. I experimented. I piggybacked off recipes and created my own! I want tasty food and I don't want to be cooking for an extended time, so I find recipes and foods that fit my desires. Most have been very successful in satisfying myself and my kids.
Here's my "if only": If only my whole family could forgo the bird and bird gravy, it'd be a better Thanksgiving dinner. Well, they're not there. They want their turkey. And hence, my kids will want their turkey as well. They know about Factory Farming and the horrors the birds undergo. No, I haven't shown them anything incredibly explicit and not for a couple weeks and I have no plans to bring it up again before tomorrow's feast. As most parents know, kids need choices and mine have the freedom to choose animal flesh away from home. At home, there's not that choice, but knowing they have it elsewhere is still freeing for them. I hope one day they'll feel freedom from eating flesh foods, but until then, they'll get to partake in a very American tradition of eating Benjamin Franklin's "if only," the turkey.