By Simone Tharkur.
As people rush to the supermarkets in preparation for Turkey Day, others are leaving the gobbles off their list.
“I’ve been a vegetarian for four years,” says Kara Ng, a CCNY sophomore and chemistry major.
Even before converting to vegetarianism, Ng celebrated Thanksgiving a little differently. As many Americans rise with the sun to begin their assembly line of must-have dishes, the Ng’s Chinese family goes out for brunch. “We go to Eighth Avenue in Brooklyn, for tea and talk. It’s like Brooklyn’s little Chinatown,” she says. “After brunch, we go home and prepare everything from scratch, together.”
Although Ng is the only vegetarian in her family, their Thanksgiving table has always skipped the stuffed, de-feathered, center piece. “We don’t normally eat turkey; we never have,” she says. “My family usually eats a roasted pig with the face and all.”
In Chinese tradition, “meat is an element in every dish,” says Ng. “It is very rare for an Asian to be a vegetarian; it’s just not heard of.”
Still, Ng’s family has tried to accommodate her. “Last year my mom tried to humor me by making a tofu turkey, stuffed with glutton free stuffing. Everyone hated it but me. They were all disappointed,” says Ng. “I felt like everyone at the table was staring at me,” she added. “That was our first and last vegetarian Thanksgiving.”
After feeling like an “inconvenience,” Ng planned ahead for this Thanksgiving. “I’ll eat the side dishes and have my mom substitute meat for other things –oh and lots of desserts.” Ng confesses that although the other foods “smell real good,” she’s never been tempted.
Despite their choice of meat or lack of, the Ng family knows the true value of Thanksgiving. “For us the food is not important; it has no symbolism,” Ng says. “It’s about getting our huge family together.”