Talking turkey

C0mmentary by Lenzie Purcell
Times-News correspondent

This 'turkey' is made entirely of fruit, but Teens & Twenties writer Lenzie Purcell talks about the importance of giving thanks, whether you are a meat eater or a vegetarian. / Photo illustration by Abby Redding, Times-News correspondent

I used to spend Thanksgiving Day drooling in front of the oven until my mother got out the carving knife.  When she finally deemed it fit to be eaten, my plate would be filled with turkey leaving little room for vegetables or bread. But that all changed three years ago when I became a vegetarian.
I stopped eating meat after reading a book that described the antibiotics found in meat, poor living conditions for livestock, environmental problems caused by commercial agriculture and health benefits of a meat-free diet when done right.
I closed the book and never picked up a steak, chicken wing or BBQ sandwich again — the latter being the hardest to resist by far, probably because our state is deemed by many as the BBQ capital of the world.
   The first visit home following the summertime diet change was Thanksgiving. My “meat-loving” mother had tried her best. She offered me a plate of microwaved “turkey,” or fauxturkey. But while I was barely able to chew the rubbery soy imitation bird, my family downed serving after serving of flavorful, perfectly-roasted turkey.
Although many vegetarians are happy with, and of course thankful for, vegetables, Thanksgiving is a holiday and it deserves a meal worth remembering. A few hearty options include: rice and tomato cakes, maple glazed tempeh, lentil and mushroom loaf and quinoa stuffed butternut squash. A quick Google search can provide tons of vegetarian options to please anyone’s palate.
It also is important to avoid “seasoning” with meat. It hardly crosses the minds of many Southern cooks who throw in strips of bacon with many vegetables and beans, but most vegetarians don’t enjoy picking out bits of meat from their veggies. Mushrooms can replace meat in many side dishes to add flavor and vegetable broth can substitute for chicken broth in stuffings and soups.
Although it’s polite and kind to offer veggie options for vegetarian family members, what is most important is the spirit of Thanksgiving. It’s an individual decision to live a meat-free life and the dinner table isn’t the most appropriate place to talk about people’s personal choices.
It’s the season of love, peace, thanks and food for all.

Lenzie Purcell is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Teens & Twenties writer.


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