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A Thanksgiving tradition that gives entirely new meaning to the concept of “turkey dinner”

Thanksgiving turkey
Reuters/Brian Snyder
Where’s my dinner?
  • Ana Campoy
By Ana Campoy

Deputy editor, global finance and economics

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

For Thanksgiving, Terry Cummings prepares a medley of canned corn, watermelon, breadcrumbs, and tofu. Then she throws it all on the ground.

That’s because the guests of honor at her holiday feast are eight turkeys, an assortment of chickens, and a three-legged goat named Evie. “Thanksgiving with the Turkeys” has become a tradition at the Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, in Poolesville, Maryland, which Cummings runs.

The idea is to promote a meat-less Thanksgiving dinner. “We’re trying to show people how wonderful turkeys are,” she said. “They have personalities, they’re friendly.”

The event has also become a gigantic potluck, with a smorgasbord of vegan dishes brought by human guests to the sanctuary. Some 1,000 people attended this year’s Thanksgiving dinner at Poplar Spring, which was held Nov. 19. And they’re not all vegans, says Cummings.

The first iteration of “Thanksgiving with the Turkeys,” 18 years ago, only drew a couple dozen people.

By all accounts, a good time was had by all species involved. The turkeys in particular enjoyed their meal, which included all their favorites, per Cummings. (The birds themselves would be considered vegan, aside from the occasional insect they hunt.)

“It’s the ONLY way to celebrate Thanksgiving with a turkey,” posted one attendee on Facebook.

Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary
A bird feast.
Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary
Turkey pet.
Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary
One handsome bird.

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