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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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Vegan potlucks build strong communities

Thousands gave thanks this year around turkeyless tables and fed their bodies with nourishing foods void of all animal products. Though that might sound strange to some, us vegans know that there’s a lot more to Thanksgiving than what’s on the table – to us, it’s about what’s not on the table. (Though please don’t be mistaken, vegans love our food and eliminating animal products doesn’t inhibit our taste buds!)

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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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In keeping with the life-affirming spirit of Thanksgiving, FARM’s president and founder, Alex Hershaft, faxed a letter to President Obama asking him to pardon ALL turkeys bound for White House dinners.

The letter thanks the president for granting reprieve to two turkeys and for making healthy eating a top priority for this administration, while urging him to do more than ceremoniously pardon turkeys. FARM asks Obama to create a new White House tradition by becoming “the first president to observe a truly nonviolent holiday season” by pardoning all turkeys.

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Thanksgiving is the perfect time to encourage compassion for all sentient beings. It is a time to come together and experience the warmth of being loved. So if you’re inviting non-vegan friends over to celebrate, this is a great opportunity to provide delicious alternatives to cruel turkey dinners.

Holding a feed-in or a Pay-Per-View event is the ideal way to motivate others to live more compassionately. You could coordinate a public vegan dinner, host a private meal for friends and family, offer samples of bite-sized turkey alternatives to the public in a busy area, or hold a video event near a grocery store or on a college campus. Whatever your plans, be sure to share them with us! We would love to here how you are celebrating this year’s Gentle Thanksgiving.
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Heard about our Gentle Thanksgiving ~ Meatout Mondays contest?

The Challenge: Register your Gentle Thanksgiving event & see if you can sign up the most people to receive FARM’s Meatout Mondays E-letter.
The Prize: Choose either a discounted registration for the Animal Rights 2011 National Conference OR something from the FARM online store.

What Makes Meatout Mondays Stand Out: With enticing recipes, featured products, health news, and inspirational stories, Meatout Mondays offers its subscribers vital support. The results are reduced consumption of animal-based foods and hopefully eventual transition to a daily, all-vegan lifestyle. FARM’s Meatout Mondays campaign is not alone when it comes to “meat-free day” programs.  However, there are several features that make Meatout Mondays stand out and many great reasons for your Gentle Thanksgiving guests to subscribe.

A Very Important Difference: One thing Meatout Mondays does differently from many other programs is that it promotes 100% all-vegan recipes ALL the time. A common criticism of programs that use the word meat in their title (i.e. meat-free or meatless) is the suggestion that dairy and eggs are not as important to eliminate, and in many cases they still include dairy and eggs in their recipes.

In addition to the numerous health concerns related to dairy and eggs, consuming these products contributes to the lifelong abuse and eventual slaughter of dairy cows and laying chickens, supports the veal industry, and also the deaths of millions of baby male chicks. Meatout Mondays may use the word meat, but the program helps people eliminate ALL animal products from their meals.  No dairy or eggs are ever included.

The Gradual Approach ~ An Ongoing Debate: Another common criticism of meat reduction programs comes from those preferring a 100% “go vegan” NOW approach.  Critics believe that people who don’t eat meat for one day may eat more meat during the rest of the week or that cutting back will only increase their desire for meat.  Some also believe that a gradual reduction program makes people feel “okay” or legitimized in their decision to keep some animal products in their diet. Although this may be true in certain cases, for many people, going vegan all at once is overwhelming, intimidating, and simply not realistic. Changing habits and preferences can take more time for some than for others. The bottom line is to continue saving and sparing more and more animals and FARM never hides its overall mission of promoting a vegan lifestyle and ending the use of animals for food.

Subscriber Feedback: The gradual approach is apparently effective for many people and feedback from Meatout Mondays subscribers continues to be positive. In a recent survey conducted by FARM, respondents were asked to rate how much of a role Meatout Mondays played in their decision to go vegan. On a scale of 1 (least) to 5 (most), 60.4% rated the impact at 3 or above. Since receiving Meatout Mondays, only 2% of survey respondents reported still eating meat everyday, compared with nearly 19% who ate meat daily prior to receiving the E-letter.  Of the respondents, the percentage who switched to a vegan diet since receiving Meatout Mondays (some for less than 6 months) went up 11%.

The recipes and information in Meatout Mondays appeal to everyone ~ wherever they may be on their personal path to eating a healthier and more compassionate diet. Below you’ll find more great reasons to subscribe to Meatout Mondays.

  • The FOOD! ~ Incredible vegan recipes with easy-to-find ingredients. A variety of hearty main dishes, fresh salads, and sinfully delicious desserts. Lots of staff-tested selections!
  • Great Recipe Resources ~ The featured recipe often comes from a vegan blogger, restaurant chef, or other great vegan resource site. The recipe’s creator is credited and you can add them to your vegan resources.
  • Product Info ~ Looking for the right meat substitute or even an animal-friendly skin care product? Check this area for great vegan products ~ new ones and tried & true favorites too.
  • Coupons ~ Vegan businesses want you to try their products and often give us coupons to share.
  • WHY? ~ Our health articles provide you with the latest information about the many benefits to living vegan, plus links to valuable resources.
  • Good Vibes! ~ A big dose of hope, inspiration, and encouragement comes with our weekly section featuring a person, organization, or business and their vegan story.
  • Reader Input ~ we welcome your comments, suggestions, and recipes! Be the next featured vegan food guru!  There are also occasional contests with prizes to win.
  • Just enough ~ lots of newsletters are a bit TOO newsy. You put it aside to read “when you have time.” Meatout Mondays has just enough info, plus colorful photos to get your taste-buds watering! You won’t want to wait until later!

Learn more about the Gentle Thanksgiving contest! Good luck and we look forward to having more people join the Meatout Mondays (and hopefully Every Day) community! Want to see back issues of Meatout Mondays? Visit the archives. For more help transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, visit FARM’s new Web site, www.livevegan.org.

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