Have a Vegan-Inspired Thanksgivukkah

11/23/2013 10:37 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014


It happens only once in some 77,000 years -- Thanksgiving and Hanukkah on the same night!

As someone from a family of various religious backgrounds and who loves to find the meaning and connection in various holidays, I'm looking forward to the only Thanksgivukkah in our lifetime.

Even if you don't typically celebrate both holidays, this rare occasion may call for you to try a little holiday mashing-up as well. It also may be the perfect chance to make your celebrations vegan-inspired.

The two holidays actually make sense together. Both center on groups of people finding ways to rebuild their families and communities, people seeking religious and cultural freedom, people whose miraculous experiences allowed them to survive against all odds. All ideals I think most of us can celebrate.

The two holidays also make sense to be celebrated in a vegan-inspired manner, the way I celebrate all holidays with my family. Vegan-inspired, to me, means making healthy choices infused with compassion, interconnectedness and the intention of respecting (not harming) all living beings and our planet.

So, what better way to show gratitude for our freedom and families than having the compassion to grant freedom to other living beings and their families? And why not make it a delicious, healthy and joyful celebration in the process?

If you're jiving with this train of thought, here are some ideas for your very own Vegan-Inspired Thanksgivukkah.

Vegan-Inspired Thanksgivukkah Foods

There are some great collections of vegan Thanksgiving foods and vegan Hanukkah foods out there.

What if you mix them up a bit? For example:

  • Vegan pumpkin sufganiyot (donuts) or vegan pumpkin cheesecake for dessert
  • My mouth is watering just imagining these!

    Vegan-Inspired Thanksgivukkah Activities

    What if you made your celebration active as well, turning it into "Eight Nights of Gratitude and Compassion?" Pick an activity you can do each night to celebrate compassion for all living beings and express your gratitude for all that you have.

    Here are a few ideas for you, to use with your loved ones, or to spark your own ideas:

  • Read a vegan-inspired book together. Like Eating Animals, The World Peace Diet, The Lucky Ones, or for kids, That's Why We Don't Eat Animals. For Thanksgiving-specific books, there's 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving and others. From the Jewish angle, try A Boy, A Chicken and the Lion of Judah.
  • Watch a vegan-inspired film. Like Charlotte's Web, truly a great flick for adults rethinking their relationship with "food animals" as well as for kids, who inherently "get it." Even a film like Forks Over Knives can inspire you and help make the connection of how beneficial a healthy, vegan-inspired lifestyle is for you personally, as well as the animals.
  • Make a gratitude tree. Using real branches and paper leaves on which people write what they're grateful for, carry on this ritual for eight nights. Infuse your gratitudes with compassion -- expressing thanks for other living beings, or even playing a game where you write gratitudes as other living beings.
  • Go gift shopping, vegan-style. This could be for Hanukkah gifts or starting your Christmas shopping. There are vegan shoes and purses, vegan beauty or spa products, vegan candles, cookbooks, t-shirts. Whatever you buy with this intentionality, you can enjoy knowing that your gifts do no harm.
  • Do a vegan-inspired mitzvah a day. A "mitzvah," of course, is an act of human kindness or moral duty. There are so many ways to infuse vegan-inspired compassion into your mitzvahs: sign a petition to help fellow living beings (animals or people), teach someone to cook a vegan meal, do a beach or river clean-up, bring a thank-you basket to firefighters or others who work 24/7 to help people and animals.
  • The Possibilities are Endless

    Thanksgivukkah is one of the rarest events we'll ever experience -- rarer than Halley's Comet or even a new millennium. I take that as something special to celebrate, for those of us accustomed to celebrating both holidays, and even those not.

    So get creative, dig deep and turn your celebration into eight days of gratitude and compassion. Honor the future -- of all peoples, animals and our Mother Earth -- by making your holiday food and activities vegan-inspired.