From our panel of staff contributors:
An elderly relative went to some extra lengths to provide foodstuffs for a younger
— Wendy Donahue
Because the hosts are family, it's not at all unreasonable. A lot of
— Phil Vettel
In an ideal world, the host every year would inquire after the dietary habits and restrictions of Thanksgiving guests as tastes and dietary requirements change. In the real world, you must be prepared to provide for your daughter yourself. I'd call the hosting relative and say something like, "Now you know, Uncle Beefy, Little Suzie Seitan is a teenage vegan now. So, we'll bring what she can eat with us." Hopefully, whatever that is will need, at most, a quick zap in the microwave. Don't assume the ideal host has the ideal number of free burners or ovens for your use.
— Bill Daley
As with so many things at the intersection of your own kids and everyone else, a balance must be struck between honoring your daughter's ideals and respecting your larger family's feelings.
"I think the overarching priority is to be sensitive to your host," says Homa Sabet Tavengar, author of "Growing Up Global: Raising Children To Be at Home in the World" (Ballantine/Random House). "But you also want to honor your teenage child standing up for something she believes in and wanting to do something rigorous."
Thanksgiving, after all, does not belong solely to the host — or to his or her guests. Ideally, it's a coming together of the two.
"I see it as an example of unity and diversity and honoring and celebrating each member of the family," Tavengar says. "Especially as your family grows and more in-laws enter the family from different backgrounds. You want to be open and accepting to new traditions."
Tavengar suggests alerting the host family ahead of time and preparing a few vegan dishes to share with the group.
"If the host wants to make something completely vegan, that's wonderful, but that's up to the host," she says.
Neither should the host take offense at your daughter passing up the turkey and dairy-laden sides.
If your daughter is committed to strict veganism, praise her for her tenacity. If she's open to setting her diet aside for special occasions (and it's not doctor-imposed), you may want to take a moment to extol the virtues of experiencing other people's bounty.