Ashevilleans celebrate compassion by taking turkey off the table

TALKING TURKEY: Many local businesses and groups have come up with inventive ways to celebrate Thanksgiving without turkey. Some, like Sanctuary Brewing Co., are raising money to help support rescued turkeys. Photo by Lisa McDonald

Befitting their role as the traditional centerpiece of a Thanksgiving table, some 46 million turkeys are slaughtered every November. Most of them are just babies — a mere five or six months old. While Americans are giving thanks for their many blessings, these birds don’t have much to be grateful for.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: “[Turkeys] are charming, flirtatious and hilarious animals,” says Sanctuary Brewing Co. co-owner Lisa McDonald. “They love attention and will show off to get it. They bond with humans and animals and are very docile.” Sanctuary brewed a special Thanksgiving beer as a fundraiser to support rescued turkeys. Photo by Hannah Sentenac
But a number of Asheville-area groups are working to shift the attention away from turkey and tryptophan. They’re creating a new vision for Thanksgiving dinner that celebrates compassion for all.

Animal Haven, Asheville’s farm animal sanctuary, is hosting a three-course Plantsgiving fundraiser at Plant restaurant on Wednesday, Nov. 23, for $45 per person. The money raised will help care for the sanctuary’s chicken, pig, geese, sheep and other residents.

“Many things — particularly holidays — are steeped with tradition,” says Trina Hudson, co-founder of Animal Haven. “For Thanksgiving, some of these traditions include family, giving thanks and a bountiful meal. That doesn’t mean a turkey, and there are so many alternatives available that allow you to not only have a compassionate meal, but a delicious one as well.”

The original idea for Plantsgiving was dreamed up 10 years ago by Plant co-owner, chef, and former Animal Haven volunteer Jason Sellers, who wanted to support the sanctuary with a cruelty-free feast.

At Sanctuary Brewing Co. in Hendersonville, owners Joe Dinan and Lisa McDonald brewed a seasonal pumpkin saison to do their part for compassion. From the sale of each Dinde Saison (dinde means turkey, in French), 50 cents is donated to help to sponsor a rescued turkey. So far, SBC has sponsored four at Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge in Pittsboro, N.C.

“We’ve had the privilege of spending time with turkeys that have been rescued and are living out their days in a happy environment,” explains McDonald. “These are charming, flirtatious and hilarious animals. They love attention and will show off to get it. They bond with humans and animals and are very docile.”

The Pardon - No Evil Foods
CHANGE IS COMING: “More and more people are becoming aware of the connection between animal agriculture and climate change, between the consumption of animal products and the effects on health, of the mistreatment of farmed animals, etc.” says No Evil Foods co-owner Sadrah Schadel “In light of all that awareness, people’s traditional notions of Thanksgiving are already changing.” No Evil Foods created The Pardon (pictured), a plant-based main course designed for Thanksgiving meals. A portion of sales from The Pardon benefit rescued turkeys. Photo courtesy of No Evil Foods

Unfortunately, she adds, the fact that they also taste good is what gets them killed and eaten by the millions. In addition to their efforts at Sanctuary, she and Dinan host a vegan Thanksgiving at their home every year.

One of the items served at their table is The Pardon, a plant-meat turkey alternative created by Asheville’s No Evil Foods. “With The Pardon, I think we made something that’s really connects to the experience of turkey. One of our staff members who’s not vegetarian or vegan said he liked it better than turkey,” says co-founder Mike Wollansky.

For every $25 worth of purchases of The Pardon, $1 goes towards the sponsorship of Xander and Xena, two turkeys who live at Full Circle Farm Sanctuary in Warm Springs, Ga. This year, The Pardon sold out, with nearly 400 of them being shipped out from coast to coast.

No Evil Foods co-founder Sadrah Schadel says Thanksgiving — and the nostalgia that goes with it — is big in her family. But as growing numbers of people wake up to the realities of food production, things are starting to change. “More and more people are becoming aware of the connection between animal agriculture and climate change, between the consumption of animal products and the effects on health, of the mistreatment of farmed animals, etc.” says Schadel. “In light of all that awareness, people’s traditional notions of Thanksgiving are already changing.”

There are other plant-based celebrations happening in the Asheville area in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Asheville Vegan Society is hosting a dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 23, catered by Eden Out. In addition, Eden Out will offer an order-ahead vegan takeout menu for people who prefer not to cook. Also, THE BLOCK off biltmore is organizing a Thanksliving potluck on Thanksgiving Day.

So if turkey is taken off the table, what does Thanksgiving become? In the words of Animal Haven co-founder Barb Bellows: “We would wish for all turkeys to be served a homemade pumpkin pie and for all humans to be served plant-based food surrounded by the ones they love.”


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50 thoughts on “Ashevilleans celebrate compassion by taking turkey off the table

  1. Scotty Morgan

    I will continue to have my turkey,Cades Cove ham,sweet and sour pork tenderloin and all the other trimmings. And give my thanks to the Good Lord that I live in this wonderful country also that Donald Trump is President Elect.

    • luther blissett

      Well, good for you. Eat it like it’s your last Thanksgiving because it probably will be.

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        So we can expect the end of the world as we know it within 12 months? Mkay. Will that be due to:

        * ManBearPig
        * Revenge of the Turkeys
        * The Last Trump
        * The arrival of a more advanced, compassionate alien species that will serve man
        * All-you-can-eat thermonuclear BBQ to which all are invited
        * Other

    • Dan

      Donald Trump is most likely going to require you to buy only his brand of turkey. He needs the money.
      Maybe you could volunteer to help at Animal shelters

    • David B

      Technically, Trump becomes President Elect after he is officially elected by the Electoral College. The popular vote (which went to Clinton) is advisory only to the Electoral College, and Electoral College representatives may (although it is doubtful that they would) use their judgement (as the Constitution intended) to elect a politically inexperienced and self-interested sociopath who has not committed sexual assault, tax fraud, slander and stiffed thousands of hard working contractors through the abuse of bankruptcy proceedings while making millions for himself. But that doesn’t seem to matter these days.

      • The Real World

        David B – Ya but, is Trump a vegan? That’s what matters……..

        (He wasn’t the only candidate who is sociopathic and has committed crimes. She can smoke him on both accounts.)

        • boatrocker

          Yet as you have to admit, he is a sociopath and has committed crimes.
          Just like both crappy ‘choices’ we were offered.

          • The Real World

            Yes, denial is not my thing; hence, my name. And I don’t have party favorites.

            At the level that our 2 illustrious candidates live you can be sure that most in their ranks have substantial degrees of either socio/pyschopathy, narcissism, megalomania or another psychological disposition more extreme than we mere mortals possess.

            And my life observations have indicated that the other aspect common amongst that crowd it a strong willingness to cheat; often at breathtaking levels. Morality is extremely relative (not high on the list!) for those types. Caveat emptor, indeed.

    • boatrocker

      Because a book of fairy tales written in the Late Bronze Age, where atoms, germs and the Scientific Method were unheard of are how truly enlightened types should base their life choices off of.

      It’s not your air either, unless vegan breath does not contain CO2 and is more compassionate than an omnivore’s breath.

  2. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    I tried Tofurky one Thanksgiving. It was horrible.

  3. boatrocker

    Interesting- I’ve volunteered out at Animal Haven over the years and those folks rock. I always liked the Irish wolfhounds they kept and enjoyed hanging out with the Vietnamese potbellied pigs.

    It will be interesting as well to read the cries of outrage from the militant vegan camp for keeping animals in ‘slavery’ by providing them with a place to sleep, feeding them and pretty much asking for nothing in return from them.

    While some of their animals may get seasonal jobs at the mall or a car wash, the rest of them look like they have it pretty good there and didn’t appear to be ‘tortured’, ‘enslaved’ though I think the human residents merely hid the whips, car batteries, waterboarding tables and brass knuckles when I showed up.

    By following vegan and PETA ‘logic’, would it be preferable for the kind folks at Animal Haven to ’emancipate’ their ‘slaves’ and let them live a natural life of freedom for the whole 10 minute walk from their property until being splattered on Tunnel Rd., or are many vegan arguments simply pie in the sky hysterics?

    Hey, don’t eat a turkey for Thanksgiving, good job.
    Have fun training your adopted turkey to chase a tennis ball like a pet. When it reaches the end of it’s life, will you just watch it die of old age as opposed to actually letting it feed a family?

    Oh, I forgot- vegans don’t believe in keeping animals as companions as that is slavery too.
    Did anyone tell the kind folks at Brother Wolf that? Numerous workers there are vegans.

    • Michelle Neff

      Not all vegans associate with PETA’s views. I have two wonderful adopted dogs and I don’t believe they are in ‘slavery’. I’m vegan because I’m trying to do my part to reduce unnecessary suffering.

    • Bob

      Haha! Are you responding to comments that were never made? The comments in your head?

      I know showing compassion to all beings is a scary concept for you, but you don’t have to be afraid. The carnism America has programmed deep in your psyche can be undone. Follow your true heart and forgo the flesh.

        • huhsure

          Omnivore: Someone who convinces themselves that their eating choices are dictated by biology, instead of deeply held tradition.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            Yeah right. Tradition is always foremost on my mind when I eat. /sarc

          • boatrocker

            Yep. That’s what I’m thinking every time I make dinner- trying to reconcile the abuse I suffered as a child at the hands of my ‘carnivore’ family for feeding me and trying to find it in my heart to forgive them for serving me both meat and plants on my plate.

            I suppose that’s why the Dalai Lama eats meat in moderation too.

  4. notyourname

    Tofurkey is not great, but this article isn’t talking about that, it’s in support of local products and producers – and though I couldn’t get my mitts on The Pardon this year, I’m sure it’s miles better than that other thing. This is a nice, fair piece and maybe, just maybe, there will be some open-minded people who see that a bird does not need to equate with the actual giving of thanks and sharing of friendship on Thursday.

  5. Michelle Neff

    I always thought it was odd to celebrate thanks over a dead bird. I’ll be enjoying some yummy plant-based altneratives instead!

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      So… dead plants instead of dead bird… mkay.

      • Bob

        Are you equating pulling weeds with slitting the throat of a turkey? Honestly? Do you not walk on grass because you care so much about plants? Do you know how many more pounds of plants it takes to create animal products vs just eating the plants? Or were you just joking? You must’ve been joking. Good one!

        • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

          Well walking on grass doesn’t kill it, so you can always be thoughtful as you walk and apologize. I do go out of my way to not kill bugs; and I’m very careful to collect every seed, because it bothers me to think that I might deprive some seed of its destiny and desire to be all that it can be (I know what it’s like to feel lonely and abandoned); and I feel much better when I use pruners to cut vegetable leaves instead of just ripping them off the plant.

      • boatrocker

        Just outta curiosity, why are plants that are scientifically proven to feel pain never mourned over a dinner plate?

        Guess I’ll just have to stick with photosynthesis as a diet.

        • boatrocker

          Yet those pesky scientists have proven plants register pain via the secretion of chemicals, so enough with your oppressive humancentric “Only Nerve Endings Matter” routine.

          And how are you not moderated as a poster for flinging personal insults directly at other posters like they were tofu arrows?
          oh yea, I forgot about the Mtn X’s crack team of editors and moderators.

          Wait, lemme guess what your response will be-
          “flinging insults is nothing like MUUUUURDDDDER!” ok, got it.

  6. Julia

    We are fortunate to have so many wonderful options this year. The compassionate community is growing in the Asheville area. This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the many people here actively working towards a kinder world.

  7. Bob

    Fantastic article! Thank you, Hannah and thank you MtnX!

    Compassion for all! Happy ThanksLiving!

  8. The Real World

    “I always thought it was odd to celebrate thanks over a dead bird.” —- I don’t know whether to laugh or roll my eyes. Perhaps I’ll do both. Quick, we need to have a seance or find a time machine so that Michelle can discuss the dead bird situation with our ancestral American pilgrims (cuz they had soooo many other options, ya know)

    “The compassionate community is growing in the Asheville area.” —- I hope you’re right about that, Julia. But currently, we have many, many here who do not seem to understand that compassion/tolerance/open-mindedness includes accepting that there is a huge variety of viewpoints and multiple value sets in this world. This little ‘ville can be a serious echo chamber sometimes and very narrow-minded.

    Bottomline: everybody make sure to hug your turkey on Thanksgiving. (oh my, maybe that didn’t sound quite right)

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      That could be their new motto: Hug your Turkey, don’t choke your goat.

      • The Real World

        LOL! But, uh oh, that didn’t sound quite right either……. ;o)

  9. think critically

    Great article, Hannah!

    Whenever someone speaks of compassion, Snowflake and Boatrocker just have to mock them, spread lies and misinformation about PETA, tell us they don’t like Tofurkey (I don’t like it, either), equate the suffering of plants to the suffering of animals (so picking a flower or mowing the grass is the same as gouging out a puppy’s eye), etc. Their comments are so juvenile and false, I don’t know why anyone even responds. Are they paid shills for the meat industry? Are they teenagers or pre-teens, as the maturity of their comments seem to indicate? Or are they just nasty people who can’t seem to get on with their lives and do something positive rather than attack the good efforts of others?

    Even right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer is evolving. He recently said “in a hundred years people are going to judge us as a civilization that killed wantonly and ate animals. There’s going to be a time when we’re not going to need to do that. And they’re going to end up judging their ancestors, meaning us, harshly for having been that wanton and that cruel.”

    The time is now, not 100 years from now!

    “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men.” Alice Walker

    • Peter Robbins

      There’s something about less killing that brings out the worst in people.

    • The Real World

      think critically – I don’t know if you’ve read the boatload of Letters to the Editor recently about these topics and the many, many comments on them. If you have read them and are able to comprehend accurately then you’d know why those two (and myself) are making these comments.

      I’ll let them speak for themselves but my view is this: I fully respect other people’s eating and life choices and have no problem with them sharing info about them. I’m always interested in a wide variety of views. But, too many present a very narrow, self-righteous, “superior” view and it’s wrong. Because you do not have all of the relevant info about other peoples lives to be in a position to lecture how they should eat. So, you all need to get over yourselves and your preaching. And, who cares what Krauthammer thinks or how people 100 years from now judge us.

      Read Lee Warren’s letter for an excellent example of how to present an argument.

      “the same as gouging out a puppy’s eye” — hey, nobody better be touching my puppy! (oh, I did it again. Things are sounding all double entendre-like lately)

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      Funny how someone named “think critically” encourages just the opposite with his appeal to authority fallacies. Charles Krauthammer? That’s a HUGE LOL.

      • think critically

        I am a progressive, I just wanted to show you that even Charles Krauthammer is able to do a bit of critical thinking, something you can’t seem to grasp when it comes to why animals are deserving of respect. And respecting animals means not killing them simply to satisfy a culinary preference.

        • boatrocker

          A preference like a choice then? Hmmm, choice is bad?

          For real, when vegans press this hard for a preference for education, the preference t to marry anybody you choose, the preference to have a child or not, speaking out about our country’s role as the World Bully (oops cop), ending police brutality, corporate welfare and asking 1%ers to pay their fair share then I can take vegans seriously.

          Until then, vegans are the Deadheads of eating for wearing blinders. That is not a compliment by the way, Deadheads.

        • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

          It’s not critical thinking. It’s belief. I wonder if Krauthammer is getting some kind of kickback from PETA for his vegan-friendly advocacy. I seriously doubt that he is a practicing vegan.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            I just read something of Krauthammer’s and do not think that he has anything to do with PETA. He has a reasonable vegetarian view that IMO you misrepresented as being vegan.

            “Which brings us to meat-eating. Its extinction will, I believe, ultimately come. And be largely market-driven, as well. Science will find dietary substitutes that can be produced at infinitely less cost and effort. At which point, meat will become a kind of exotic indulgence.

            As a moderate carnivore myself, I confess to living in Jeffersonian hypocrisy. It’s a bit late for me to live on berries and veggies, although if I can eat free range, I will.”

  10. boatrocker

    Know what would be really funny?

    If vegans researched how many animal based products are used in large scale brewing (large scale meaning anything bigger than your 5 gal. fermenting vessel) in order to make all those cute little ‘craft’ beers Asheville drools and fawns over.

    Vegan Smug vs. Beer City Smug- Clash of the Titans indeed.

        • boatrocker

          The paper industry also uses animal-based products in order to publish books you only become familiar with once Hollywood turns it
          into a movie.

    • NFB

      Not to mention all the animals that are killed in vegetable farming. Rodents who threaten crops get 86ed, some get run over by tractors. Other animals have their habitats cleared for farm land. All this so humans can have their trendy $20 tofu ceviche.

      • boatrocker

        Tipping of the hat-

        Are you sure we’re not long lost sockpuppet cousins for pointing out the brutal truths minus the new age Asheville tourist $ worshipping makeup?

        I don’t sleep walk or sleep post as far as I know, but then again how would I know for being asleep if I set up multiple accounts for posting
        just for the pleasure of being called a murderer or a progressive sheeple by folks with names that include “think”, “Real” or “Truth”?

  11. Cynthia Sampson

    There’s still time to join us for a fab vegan potluck at TBob (THE BLOCK off Biltmore, 39 S. Market Street, corner of Eagle and Market streets) tomorrow (TG day) at 4:30 p.m. if you’re not afraid to challenge your myths about vegans and vegan food. No horns, promise! (Brass trumpets and bugles excepted.)

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