A Green Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving

October 20, 2009 by The Dove 

By Shireen Qudosi Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and this year we have a few green additions to our family. With my newly turned eco leaf and with one of our family members going vegetarian, this year Thanksgiving presents a whole new set of challenges. But the idea of a green or even [...]


By Shireen Qudosi

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and this year we have a few green additions to our family. With my newly turned eco leaf and with one of our family members going vegetarian, this year Thanksgiving presents a whole new set of challenges.

But the idea of a green or even a vegetarian Thanksgiving seems like blasphemy to die hard turkey stuffers. To ease them into what will inevitably be a culture shock, I already started dropping the idea of a green feast that goes beyond just an organic turkey. When asked how theyd “green” their Thanksgiving, I got all sorts of responses from “add more plants to the dinner table” to “use green dye on the turkey”.

If were to be literalists, then Id rather go cold turkey than sit across the table from a green turkey.

Rethinking the Main Course

The veggie kick brought with it the “Tofukey”, a tofu turkey that received grimaces from most non-vegetarians, including myself if only because of the horrid name for it. Another option is to try a soy-seitan turkey – (for a great recipe, check out Chef Bryanna Clark Grogan). Soy is an alternative to tofu, and for many it has a much more appealing taste.

Most people are immediately turned off when thinking of vegetarian alternatives to traditional meat dishes. But this isnt because of experience, (since mostly like theyve never even tried it), but rather because of conditioning. Were brought up being programmed to think fowl when imagining a Thanksgiving meal. Itll take a lot of deprogramming and a little willingness on peoples part to taste a soy turkey – but once they try it, theyll be one step closer to rethinking their attitude.

Your part in all this is to make sure you dont botch it up. Find a great recipe, and do quick pre turkey day test run. This way you can rest assured on the big day and know your feast will be a big hit, with some turkey somewhere thanking you for being spared the gauntlet.

DID YOU KNOW: Approximately 45 million turkeys are (killed) cooked and eaten in the U.S. on Thanksgiving? Thats about a sixth of all turkeys sold in the U.S. each year.

With facts like these, its all the more important that we do our part to bring this number down.

Why You Should Green Your “Meat”

Not to long ago, there was a bigger to-do about our carbon foot print. More recently, people started looking at the carbon foot print of cattle, or what they called a “cow emission”. According a 400 page report by the U.N.s Food and Agriculture Organizations report entitled “Livestocks Long Shadow”, the worlds 1.5 billion cattle are responsible for 18 percent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than all other forms of transportation combined.

A great measure of how much awareness is spreading about this issue is to look outside of the green community. When my non eco friends started discussing it, I knew were starting to gain ground on the importance of the impact cattle has on our environment.

Its a more commonly known fact that cows produce a tremendous amount of methane a year, adding to an already increased global warming problem. As a natural part of a collective species, its a small and likely insignificant “contribution” – but when considering cattle is farmed to sustain a billion dollar beef industry, we can start seeing the compounded impact to our ecology.

Cows arent the only one. Any livestock that is farmed bears a similar burden on the environment. And if you recall the number of turkeys harvested and killed to cater to a Thanksgiving feast, you can start using your abacus to tally up the figures.

The Problem with Turkey

Turkey dinners have their own carbon foot print, or in this case a “wing print”, according to NPR, which did a piece on tracking the amount of resource it takes to raise a turkey and then transport it to its final destination. Each step along the way burns natural resources from farming turkey to the fuel it takes to transport them.

DID YOU KNOW: A landmark study at Cornell University revealed that turkey meat “production consumed energy in a 13:1 ratio to protein output.” The study goes on to add that:

Animal agriculture is a leading consumer of water resources in the United States.
Livestock are directly or indirectly responsible for much of the soil erosion in the United States
According to David Pimentel, Professor of Ecology at Cornell University, “More than half the U.S. grain and nearly 40 percent of the world grain is being fed to livestock rather than being consumed directly by humans.”

With these clear cut facts, we find ourselves hard pressed not to switch out turkey for soy even if just for one day. My recommendation is to email this article to your friends and family, particularly your guest list to get them thinking about the importance of an eco-friendly Thanksgiving feast.

At the end of the day, Thanksgiving is not about the food as much as it is about community – a gathering of loved ones over a feast regardless of what type of feast it is. And its hardly a celebration of gratitude if youve forced a turkey sacrifice for it, who Im sure isnt very grateful to have been included as an unwilling participant.

If youve got to get people to consider alternative lifestyle choices by hook and by crook, then so be it. Were on about 45 million turkeys here that will be very grateful to you for your efforts.

“Your Green Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving” is written by Shireen Qudosi and brought to you by http://www.heater-home.com, where youll find an abundance of heater articles to help guide you through a cold chilly winter. Follow them on Twitter@HeaterHome.



3 Responses to “A Green Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving”

  1. Nathan on December 1st, 2009 2:15 pm

    I have personally been a vegetarian for years, so I know exactly where you’re coming from. Anyway, my Thanksgiving is always meatless and filled with mashed potatoes. Yum!

    @ Sage: GOOD POINT. But I don’t know the answer.

  2. Sage on November 25th, 2009 7:10 am

    What I don’t understand is why vegetarians have to eat something resembling turkey? Why can’t they make up their own centerpiece dish? And also, isn’t soy and tofu the same thing? ‘Cause soy is used to make tofu?

  3. Jamie on November 24th, 2009 3:27 pm

    I totally agree about going vegetarian Thanksgiving! Although I do support American traditions, consumerist foods are often over-processed and unhealthy to eat in the first place. Unless you have wild turkey, I cannot see (or taste) the merits of eating commercially produced bird. Plus, many of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes are vegetarian to begin with! (i.e. green bean casserole, yams, sweet potato/pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, corn, etc.)

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