Going meat-free this Thanksgiving? Good for you! There are a ton of benefits for doing so, not just for you, but for the turkey! We think we can speak for the turkey when we let out a big, “Whew! Thank you!”
Let’s Get Real About the Benefits of Not Eating Turkey
Before we get into the substitutes for turkey, we will let you know some of the benefits of not eating turkey for Thanksgiving, that may make you feel better about your decision.
- Turkeys are living beings and have personalities and don’t want to die for you to eat them. They form strong bonds with their flock, enjoy playing, and are very curious. Why take that away from them so that you can have a big meal with your family?!
- Most turkeys that are purchased in stores come from terrible conditions that you wouldn’t even want to step foot in. Not only are the slaughterhouses inhumane, crowded, causing high stress levels for the turkeys (to say the least), they are often mutilated, infected with disease, maybe treated with antibiotics, inhaling ammonia during their short lives, then killed in an inhumane way, and landing on your dinner table so that you can eat all of that trauma.
- Not only are the conditions terrible for the turkeys, but most slaughterhouses are terrible for the workers. When demand is high, production needs to increase. Not only are the animals hurt more in the process, but so are the workers. In 2018, the Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism compiled data from U.S. meat plant workers and found that “amputations, fractured fingers, second-degree burns and head trauma” are common injuries workers face every day. Yikes! Can you imagine how bad it gets when demand gets high?
- Meat consumption has been linked to increased cancer risks as well as heart disease. Processed meats can carry harmful bacteria like E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella. Hello, how often do we all hear about meat recalls due to these issues?
- Delish turkey alternatives exist, and we are going to tell you about them. We’ve tried just about all of them, and there is something for just about all pallets, so there really are no excuses when everyone loves all of the sides and fixins anyway.
Let’s Get to the Turkey Substitutes
Turkey alternatives have come a long way over the past few years. More companies are coming through with their own recipes. Bye-bye are the days of just tofu-bland turkey-dupe recipes. We’re talking about companies who are doing it right where the average meat-eater wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
In the average grocery store, you will find a few plant-based turkey brands, especially around the holidays. There are a few others that we will introduce you to, that may take some digging, but we’ll share the resources with you, too.
Tofurky– ahhh, the tried and true standby for non-turkey eaters at Thanksgiving everywhere. You really cannot go wrong with Tofurky and they seem to get better and better every year. Their Holiday Feast is absolutely amazing. It is tasty, comes with wild rice stuffed inside, side of gravy, and a chocolate cheesecake. We have always found this to be a great alternative. *Found in most grocery stores around the holidays, and Vegan Essentials.
Gardein– this is for the turkey lover who may want a little more breading. Gardein’s Turk’y Roast is a great option. The plant based roast has wild rice, kale, and cranberry stuffing inside. It also comes with gravy. You will need your own sides to pair with this one. It is flavorful, though not as much as the Tofurky in our opinion. If you are a Gardein fan though, you will like it. *Found in most grocery stores around the holidays, and Vegan Essentials.
Field Roast– This one is a great one, though hard to find. Even our resource for Vegan Essentials often has it sold out. It is the Field Roast Sage and Garlic Celebration Roast. If you can find it, grab it! Their website has a delicious recipe to pair with it, which we are linking. It is a recipe for the roast, made with cumin and roasted carrots- the perfect meal for Thanksgiving. Some of our local specialty stores have it, and/or can order it if we contact them early enough, so try that if you run into issues.
No Evil Foods– We love No Evil Foods, and not just because they are from our home state of North Carolina, but because their plant-based foods are so damn flavorful, it just seems wrong. The Pardon is their alternative to the turkey. It is made with white miso and dry-rubbed with peppercorns and herbs and will make you feel so much better about not eating the real turkey. This one is super difficult to find. Even the places that sell No Evil Foods do not sell it. We used to purchase it from their website, but now you can only purchase it online via Vejii.
Honorable Mention– also by Tofurky– for those ham lovers, Gerry loves for us to grab the Plant-Based Ham Roast with Amber Ale Glaze. Cooked slow, it is juicy, flavorful, and has a nice sweet brown sugar taste to the glaze that is absolutely amazing! This is difficult to find, so we usually have to order this early on Vegan Essentials. We order two- one for Thanksgiving, and one for Christmas.
We hope this year, you will consider saving a turkey by not eating one. If you haven’t encountered a turkey, please seek a sanctuary and go spend time with one. We love days like the Day with the Turkeys at Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge in Pittsboro, NC, where you can learn more about the animals, get to know the turkeys by name.
Turkey production is cruel, dangerous for the workers, and harmful to our health. Americans can still have a delicious Thanksgiving feast without eating turkeys. This year, we encourage you to go meatless and try one of the plant-based options. Lastly, if you want a real chuckle, check out this Ode to Turkeys and Not Eating Them from a few years back. 🙂
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