Pity the poor Thanksgiving turkey.
Fattened up all year, it’s devoured in a matter of minutes, eaten as leftovers for days thereafter, and then long forgotten – until next Thanksgiving, at least.
If the turkey is the “Broadbreasted” variety – which most supermarket turkeys are – it’s life has been particularly bleak. After being bred to produce an unnaturally large chest, its legs are so short it must be artifically inseminated to reproduce. Farmers remove the tips of these young turkeys’ beaks to prevent cannibalism triggered by close living quarters in cages and warehouse. As for having the strength to fly? Forget about it.
Fortunately, delicious vegetarian options abound — and you should be able to find many of the ingredients at your local farmers market.
In a Vegetarian Kitchen with Nava Atlas offers a full-course meal, including salads, main dish options, side dishes, stuffing, and vegan pumpkin pie.
The Veggie Table suggests an even broader array of delicious sounding soups, appetizers, and entrees, including a vegetable gratin made from tomatoes, eggplant and onions that will be as beautiful on your table as it is yummy.
If your Thanksgiving just won’t be the same without a gobbler on the table, consider a heritage turkey. This genetic ancestor of the Broadbreasted variety roams freely outside, mates naturally, and eats a traditional (well, for a bird) diet of insects and fresh grass. Don’t be surprised when you notice that heritage turkeys are smaller and more expensive than their factory-farmed cousins. This is definitely a case of quality over quantity (and besides, the size may be perfect if you’re one of those people who can’t face eating leftover turkey for an entire week).
You can find a heritage turkey at the Local Harvest website, or check with your local farmer’s market.