Roasted fall vegetables on a serving plate.
PHOTO: CHEYENNE COHEN (AP)
By DAVID WEINER | City News Service
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 46 million turkeys will be killed for Thanksgiving dinners this year, but the beleaguered animals do have a few friends in the Southland who’ll be celebrating the holiday without eating birds.
On Thursday, organizers will host the Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck, billed as “Los Angeles’ biggest vegan potluck event of the year.” The event, which has been held for more than 20 years, will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cheviot Hills Recreation Center at 2551 Motor Ave. It will feature live music and an open mic.
Love Always Sanctuary in Sun Valley is holding a “Thanksloving” event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at its site at 9841 La Tuna Canyon Road. Tickets are $20, and attendees can interact with rescued animals and enjoy vegan crepes made by the chefs of La Crepe du Jardin.
Kindred Spirits Care Farm in Chatsworth is holding “Thanksgiving at the Ranch” at noon Thursday at 11001 Farralone Ave. The event doubles as a fundraiser, with proceeds going to support the rescued farm animals at the site, including turkeys.
Farm Sanctuary in Acton conducts its Adopt A Turkey campaign every year. For a donation of $35, people can symbolically adopt a rescued turkey, or sponsor an entire flock for $150, allowing the animals to live out their natural lives at one of the group’s spacious farms.
Sponsors receive a certificate with their adopted turkey’s photo and bio, including their rescue story. The group has been sponsoring the program since 1986, and several of the turkeys’ stories can be viewed at www.farmsanctuary.org/adopt-a-turkey.
Farm Sanctuary also offers a “Turkey-Free Pledge,” which people can sign as a promise to leave turkeys off their plate on Thanksgiving.
Mayim Bialik, Alan Cumming, Corey Feldman, Nikki Glaser, Ashley Jackson, Jane Lynch, Richa Moorjani, Madelaine Petsch, Alicia Silverstone, Langhorne Slim and Jackson Galaxy are among the celebrities who signed the pledge this year.
The nationwide rescue group celebrates turkeys “as living, vibrant, social, emotional, and sentient beings” who “form loving relationships, have strong and distinct personalities, and deserve a life free from harm.”
“Thanksgiving is supposed to be about gratitude, but the factory farming industry has co-opted it to promote the consumption of turkeys who’ve suffered tortured lives on industrial farms,” Farm Sanctuary President and Co-Founder Gene Baur said. “It’s more fun and more compassionate to celebrate the holiday with turkeys as our friends, instead of eating them.”
Mercy for Animals, an international animal protection nonprofit headquartered in Los Angeles, introduced a public campaign ahead of President Joe Biden’s traditional turkey pardon at the White House, encouraging all Americans to pardon a turkey by choosing plant-based food instead. The group is also promoting a ChooseVeg guide as a resource for incorporating plant-based foods into holiday meals. It can be found at https://chooseveg.com/.
The group says the campaign’s goal is to educate the public about the routine cruelty in the turkey industry, including:
— in factory farms, parts of turkeys’ toes and beaks are cut or burned off;
— turkeys are bred to grow so large so quickly that some cannot even stand;
— the birds are sent to slaughter after just five or six months of life.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is also promoting a no-turkey pledge for Thanksgiving, in the fifth year of its “ThanksVegan” campaign. More information, including recipes, can be found at peta/org/thanksvegan.
Vegans of LA conducts an annual food distribution in the city: Its “Build-A-Bag of groceries” includes fresh fruits and veggies, plus plant-based milks, meats and cheeses. The giveaway was held on Nov. 9 this year, with the next one planned for Dec. 7 at Hope on Union in Los Angeles.
“Creating new family traditions centered around awareness and consciousness, I invite family and friends to join our vegan ThanksLiving celebration, where we honor the turkeys by adopting/supporting one each year from a sanctuary and placing his/her photo in the center of our table, serving all plant dishes and acknowledging the day as the national Indigenous Day of Mourning,” Paige Parsons Roache, producer and communications director for the food bank, told CNS.
Despite the near-ubiquity of turkeys on Thanksgiving plates, families do have an impressive number of other meal choices.
The most popular vegan option for holiday dinners is Tofurkey, an Oregon-based company founded in 1980 by self-described teacher, naturalist and hippie Seth Tibbott. The company debuted its tofu-based Holiday Roast in 1995. Tofurkey roasts and other products are available at many Southland supermarkets, and can also be found online for as little as $12.99.
Several other companies have followed suit and developed their own vegan roasts in recent years, including Gardein, Field Roast and Trader Joe’s.
Veggie Grill, a nationwide vegan chain that opened its first restaurant in Irvine in 2006, is offering a “Friendsgiving Freebie” promotion through Wednesday (the restaurants are closed on Thanksgiving Day) in which customers who use the code “Friends” can buy one bowl and get one free.
This year, Veggie Grill has a vegan Turk’y Cranwich on the menu, made of seared prime roots black pepper Koji Turk’y with cranberry aioli, vegan gravy and homemade cranberry stuffing on grilled sourdough bread.
Veg Out magazine has a guide on where to pick up a vegan holiday meal in Los Angeles on its website at https://vegoutmag.com/food-and-drink/where-to-pick-up-a-vegan-thanksgiving-feast-in-los-angeles/.
The National Turkey Federation, a group formed in 1940 to market the animals as food, did not reply to a request for comment about the welfare of factory-farmed turkeys, but the group says on its website that turkeys are “raised in specially designed, environmentally controlled barns that provide maximum protection from predators, disease and weather extremes. Except for breeding and transportation purposes, turkeys can roam freely within their house.”
The group further states that “to ensure animal welfare practices are upheld throughout the industry, the National Turkey Federation works closely with America’s turkey growers, veterinarians and industry experts to develop and maintain strict Standards of Conduct and Animal Care Guidelines for raising healthy birds in a safe environment at every stage of a turkey’s lifecycle.”