A Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Spare the Gobbler & Take a Stab at Tofurky

November 26, 2008 5:19 PM0 comments

For healthier eating at the Thanksgiving smorgasbord or to let some turkeys see another day, a meat-free repast is easier than ever to bring home or enjoy out this Thanksgiving day

It’s the carnivore’s nightmare: the turkey, the keystone of the holiday table upon which so much tradition hinges, is gone. In its place, a suspiciously similar counterfeit, a plump, meaty roast. But alas, this is no bird. It’s a concoction of beans, mashed and processed, spiced and baked, and, in honor of the turkey’s traditional place in the American mindset, they call this bird-bean Tofurky.sidebar.jpg

This imitation meat is the sincerest form of flattery to the fabled holiday bird, and friends to both the thousands of turkeys spared the knife and the appetites that expect some meat on the dish.

Turtle Island Foods (www.tofurky.com), which produces the bird-like roast, estimates 275,000 or more of them will replace the gobbler’s throne on the table.

Tofurky is one front line warrior in a vegetarian line-up that is making inroads onto the holiday table.

Nowadays, the Thanksgiving menu is awash with vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes.

National grocery chains such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, which cater to crowds looking for high-end quality fares, offer Tofurky. Select Whole Foods also carry other roasts like the Celebration Roast and the Veggie Turkey Breast.

The faux turkey doesn’t come to the table alone, either. Many natural food stores, again including Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, provide vegetarian recipes to the staple Thanksgiving accompaniments – vegan butternut squash casseroles, mushroom tarts and soups.

Vegetarians, vegans and the curious can discover more options and how to prepare vegetarian meals from Trader Joe’s (www.traderjoes.com) or Whole Foods (www.wholefoods.com) online or by heading to their local store and inquiring within.

Jackie Zovko, of the Pimmit Hills Whole Foods, encourages shoppers to visit the in-store “Holiday Table,” where a knowledgeable employee can guide shoppers and their questions through the store’s wares.

The resources for planning and preparing a Thanksgiving feast, however, are not limited to the high-end chain stores. According to Erica Meier from the pro-vegetarian animal rights group Compassion Over Killing, “It’s never been easier to enjoy Thanksgiving feasts in the D.C. Metro region., eating in or dining out.”

Vegetarian groups across the Metro region are sponsoring events during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The Vegetarian Society of D.C. is holding one of the area’s largest events, with their annual “Life-Affirming Thanksgiving Dinner” on Nov. 27, this year at the Hyatt Regency in Bethesda, Md.

For additional veg-friendly dining events, diners can check out a calendar of events at www.VegDC.com.

Meier also refers inquisitive cooks at home to Compassion Over Killing’s web site, www.cok.net/feat/thanksgiving, for more information about meatless feasts.

For the kitchen-weary closer to home in Falls Church, eating the Thanksgiving feast without cooking remains an option, too, with all the traditional (veggie-style) fixings.

In a festive spirit, Sunflower Restaurant, the Falls Church area’s completely vegetarian dining establishment, is assembling a special repast for its Thanksgiving Day diners.

Sunflower’s chefs are furnishing a tofu turkey for their holiday table, with an organic whole wheat bread stuffing inside, packed with walnuts, pecans, cranberries and seasoning. Organic brown rice and mashed Okinawa purple yams accompany the main dish, with a choice of gravy – a creamy, warm mushroom or a spicy black pepper dressing. The complete meal is $12.95.

In addition to the nutritional Thanksgiving fare, Sunflower’s diners can choose from their extensive menu, which ranges from vegetarian and vegan appetizers to dessert. Tofu is one of several options, too, alongside other protein-rich faux meats, including tempeh, also made from soybeans, and seitan, a wheat gluten.

There are plenty of reasons for diners to forgo the turkey and processed foods this Thanksgiving, out of compassion for the birds or their own waistlines. Regardless of the rationale, the resources and the means to make or find a vegetarian or vegan Thanksgiving dinner are readily at hand.

For the especially compassionate, you can adopt a turkey this Thanksgiving and provide for the animal’s welfare. Visit www.adoptaturkey.org to learn about more ways to let the turkeys enjoy the holiday season, too.

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