saving a turkey: our first vegetarian Thanksgiving

I am thankful that this year we are having two Thanksgiving celebrations. One with our immediate family on Thanksgiving, and another out of town on Friday with our orphan family–the family of friends we had Thanksgiving with for years and years before we moved and had kids. 

It is only because of that second Thanksgiving (which will be traditional in terms of food, if not participants) that my family half-heartedly agreed to indulge me in our first vegetarian Thanksgiving (I didn't push them so far as to go vegan). This is a holiday miracle because my husband is the most traditional person I know. He wants Thanksgiving to be exactly as he had it as a child. I was shocked enough that he allowed me to add a couple of southwestern style dishes to our fare when we moved to Arizona, but to abandon the turkey? I never thought it would happen. But with the promise of a 21-pound turkey on Friday, it has.

Everyone asks me what we're doing "in place of the turkey." I think they mean, "as a main dish." I get it. The whole thing is quite bewildering to most. I'm up to my shenanigans, again. So whatrwehavin'?

This is what we're making "in place of the turkey." food photo source: vegetariantimes.com

This is what we're making "in place of the turkey." food photo source: vegetariantimes.com

We thumbed the pages of our November issue of Vegetarian Times magazine and came up with:

our menu

winter squash pot pie with swiss chard and chickpeas

green beans and radishes braised in orange juice

mashed parsnips with crispy parsnip ribbons

creamed spinach

chocolate cherry semifreddo

These recipes are all new to us, and we're super excited to spend the day cooking together as a family and saving a turkey. 

If you like that idea, and you really want to be a hero (it works even if you've already got the turkey on the oven), you can adopt a turkey through Farm Sanctuary. It's a fantastic program called Farm Sanctuary's Adopt a Turkey Project. They say:

For a one-time donation gift of just $30, anyone can sponsor a turkey who lives at one of our three shelters. As a turkey sponsor, you will receive a special Adopt a Turkey certificate with a color photo of and fun details about your new friend.

Check out their 2013 video to get to know the adoptable turkeys:

 

Aren't they sweet?

And to keep you in the save-a-turkey spirit, here is the chant Po (my first-grader) did in music class: 

a turkey named Burt thought he'd make up a dance

and he'd dance for the king and the queen

if he did a good job, and they liked it a lot

they wouldn't eat him, cause that would be mean

he went 

slide–close, slide–close

flap your wings and touch your toes

he went 

slide–close, slide–close

shake your tail and wiggle your nose

a turkey named Burt thought he'd make up a dance

and he'd dance for the king and the queen

if he did a good job, and they liked it a lot

they wouldn't eat him, cause that would be mean

yeah!

Yeah. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

are animals food? last night's dinner conversation

We eat meat very rarely in our house. I'm borderline vegan, but I do make meat for the kids a couple of times a week. They can make their own choices when they are older and understand all of the information before them. I let them know why I don't eat meat, and I tell them why people do. I never criticize them for eating it or tell them it's bad, but I don't serve it frequently, either. Last night for dinner, I made the kids some cod and veggies. They had the greatest conversation with no intervention on my part. (In case you're new to my family, my son, B, is sixteen. My son, Porter, is six, and my daughter, Campbell, is four.)

Campbell: So, this is fish, but not the kind that swims. That would be hilarious!

Porter: Um. Yes it is, Cam. What kind of fish did you think? Fake fish?

Campbell: So, am I actually eating an animal right now?

The boys: Yup.

Campbell: And they squeeeeeeeeze the eyeballs out so it tastes good?

B: Well, that's one way to put it.

Campbell: One time, I want to try eating fake animals, because I don't like eating real animals.

B: You kind-of have. Didn't you eat at McDonald's?

Campbell: Oh, yeah! That's not real food!

Exactly.

Image