If you're like most Americans, you're looking forward to loading up your plate this Thanksgiving. You can already taste the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Oh, and pass the gravy.
But for America's self-anointed food watchdogs, Thanksgiving may as well be Black Thursday. These public health puritans look at a typical holiday meal and see nothing but slaughtered animals and clogged arteries. Their solutions? Tofu, bland vegetables and unrecognizable soybean concoctions.
Naturally, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is on the leading edge of this hysteria. Last year, the nutty anti-everything group ran an ad depicting a girl thanking God for when turkeys get killed by "people who think it's fun to stomp on their little turkey heads." NBC refused to air it during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
PETA wants everyone to go vegan. Since that means no turkey, the group has a few alternatives in mind. How about Tofurky? Or an "artisan-made vegan grain meat"? If this crowd had been at the first Thanksgiving dinner, everyone would have gone home hungry.
Then there's the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), an animal rights front disguised as a doctors group. PCRM darkly warns that turkey dinners leave Americans "lethargic," "several pounds heavier" and possibly sick from food poisoning.
Of course, their solution is the same as PETA's: Go meatless. And butter-less. And gravy-less. According to this misnamed "physicians committee" (whose membership is 96 percent free of physicians), Thanksgiving recipes should be limited to mixed salad greens, dinner rolls, and squash and lentil stew.
The same recommendations come every November from the Humane Society of the United States. It's helpful to think of it as PETA with a suit and tie — both made of polyester, because sheep and silkworms have rights.
You'd better also make sure no killer fruits and vegetables are lurking on your dinner table. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the undisputed champions of food paternalism, have published a list of what they call the "riskiest" foods in America. Somehow, lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts and berries all made the list. Potatoes too.
Once you've assembled a food-police-recommended, PETA-approved Thanksgiving meal, it might taste a little bland. But don't reach for that salt shaker. CSPI schoolmarm-in-chief Michael Jacobson actually calls salt "the forgotten killer" and relentlessly hectors the government to limit how much can be in foods.
Thanksgiving meal traditions all seem to come with someone's finger wagging at the serving spoon. That gravy will clog your arteries. That chocolate pie is a heart attack waiting to happen. And it won't be long before your dinner guests will be able to sue you for all the trans fat in your margarine.
Luckily, we all have the power to leave the Turkey Day naysayers where they belong: on the outside looking in. Be thankful we live in a country where good food is plentiful and where everyone can eat what he chooses.
Enjoying your Thanksgiving dinner is the best revenge against food activists who like to stick their noses into your kitchen. And when it comes to holiday meals, this sort of revenge is best served hot.