Every year the president of the United States pardons a turkey or two, but what about the other 46 million turkeys who will be brutally slaughtered and picked apart limb by limb on dinner tables across the country? Are they any less deserving of being pardoned — of living out their natural lives?

For a holiday steeped in the tradition of giving thanks for an abundant harvest, it’s pretty hypocritical to give thanks and promote love and compassion while surrounding the carcass of a dead bird. The tradition of consuming a dead animal is far from aligned with this holiday’s life-affirming message.

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The holidays are upon us and it’s time once again to encourage friends and family to extend their circle of compassion to include those who end up on the dinner table. Holiday gatherings are the perfect time to educate others about the inherent cruelty of eating animals and introduce them to delicious, vegan alternatives.

Hosting a private meal, organizing a public potluck or distributing vegan food samples are ideal ways to motivate others to live more compassionately. By demonstrating the great taste and health benefits of vegan cuisine, we can influence our friends, family, and community to leave the turkey off the table this holiday season.

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Holiday gatherings are the perfect time to show friends and family that vegan living isn’t something to be scared about but that it can be quite the opposite…living compassionately and cruelty-free is something everyone can celebrate. You can share favorite vegan foods, animal-free gift ideas, and gently educate loved ones on the countless benefits of reducing their use of animal products.

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Give side dishes the thanks they deserve.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Americans will trash an estimated $282 million of uneaten turkey this Thanksgiving; which contributes to the $165 billion in uneaten food Americans waste every year.

“Along with trashing uneaten turkeys, they’ll be wasting the resources necessary for its production — meaning 105 billion gallons of water — enough to supply New York City for more than 100 days — and greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 800,000 car trips from New York to San Francisco,” a statement by the NRDC said.

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Thanksgiving is only a week away and most Americans have only ever encountered a turkey in the freezer section of the grocery store or one who was served to them on a platter – sadly, most have never experienced the joy of meeting a living, breathing turkey.

Turkeys are very beautiful birds. They pay great attention to grooming and preening their fancy feathers, while soaking up the warm sun and taking dust baths. Turkeys are known for their resourcefulness, agility and social nature. Like other birds, turkeys spend their days building nests and foraging for food. They also enjoy the companionship of others and create strong social bonds that last a lifetime.

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