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Have a Compassionate Holiday: Save a Turkey

Fitday Editor
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Do a turkey a favor and have a vegetarian or vegan holiday celebration. For ethical and health reasons, vegetarians don't eat animals, including beef, poultry, pork, lamb, and fish). In addition to meat, vegans don't eat animal products like milk, eggs, and cheese, or any foods that contain these ingredients.

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Antoinette, a turkey at Farm Sanctuary. photo by Connie Pugh

A plant-based vegan feast will do far less damage nutritionally than the traditional Thanksgiving meat-based meal, as it cuts out a good deal of fat, sodium and all of the cholesterol, since cholesterol is found only in animal foods. Best of all, serving a cruelty-free holiday dinner will honor the animals customarily used as ingredients - a gentler way to gather with loved ones in the spirit of giving thanks for our lives, health, and happiness.

Here are some tips to avoid ruffling feathers this holiday:
  • Try a delicious "faux" turkey by checking out Gardien, Quorn, and Tofurkey products in your store's freezer section. Alternatively, update your main dish style with a stuffed squash, legume (beans, lentils), or nut roast.
  • Make holiday gravy and stuffing using vegetable broth instead of meat-based broth.
  • Soy and coconut milk (unsweetened) are great swaps for milk in your soup, mashed potato, pumpkin pie filling, cookie, and other baked goods recipes.
  • Replace butter with margarine (Earth Balance has buttery spread and shortening versions) and eggs with egg replacer for your cooking and baking.
  • Search online for seasonal recipes that offer compassionate alternatives to the conventional turkey dinner. You can find recipes for all your faves, including soups, breads, vegan stuffing, candied yams, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin and pecan pies - or simply "vegetarian holidays."
Adopt-A-Turkey Project

Twenty-five years ago, Farm Sanctuary, an organization that rescues mistreated, abused, and neglected farm animals, challenged the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with an event that celebrated and cultivated kindness, encouraging people to "adopt" turkeys instead of eating them. This "first Thanksgiving" has grown into an organized movement in which sponsorships help them rescue animals and provide care for them at their sanctuaries, as well as educate and advocate for farm animals everywhere.

Ellen DeGeneres, the national spokesperson for the project for the second year in a row shares,
"Did you know that every year between 250 and 300 million turkeys are bred for slaughter in the United States? More than 46 million for Thanksgiving alone. So, this Thanksgiving, instead of eating a turkey please join me in adopting one, from Farm Sanctuary's Adopt-A-Turkey Project and you can give a turkey something to be thankful for."
To save even more lives this year, you can adopt a turkey with a donation gift of $30 by visiting or calling the Turkey Adoption Hotline at 1-888-SPONSOR. You will receive a certificate with a photo and details on your new turkey beneficiary. And for the ultimate cool, original holiday gift of compassion, you can adopt farm animals for your loved ones and yourself, including cows, pigs, goats, sheep, ducks, geese, turkeys, and chickens by visiting, email [email protected], or phone 607-583-225 ext 225. Visit your new adoptee at the Watkins Glen, NY, or Orland, CA, shelters on your next vacation.

Jeannie Gedeon, MPH, RD/CDN is a nutrition therapist who specializes in counseling for eating and weight issues and is an expert in the treatment of eating disorders. Jeannie works with patients recovering from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, compulsive overeating, night eating syndrome, food addiction and compulsive exercise. Her offices are located in mid-town Manhattan and Huntington, NY.

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