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Honoring the spirit of the Thanksgiving turkey

Roast turkey
Roast turkey

This Thanksgiving, how will you honor the spirit of the turkey at your meal? Will you thank the turkey in prayer for giving its life so you may eat? Will you make sure the turkey was treated well in life? Will you use every part of its body? Will you choose instead to have a vegetarian meal?

Gypsy Ravish HPs of Temple of Nine Wells in Salem MA thinks that it is very important to be grateful for all we have been gifted, including the turkey. “The sacrifice the turkey makes, that’s the ultimate sacrifice. I really think it is about not taking things for granted.”

An example of a prayer comes from a cat named Sunshine:
“…Honor this hungry Cat with your tasty nourishment.
I thank you for sustaining me through another day.
I send you blessings, love and light, to you and your family,
That we may all share the Earth together for all of time.” (1)

If possible, know where your turkey was raised and how it was treated in life. Some health food stores and farm stands can help. If this is not possible for you, you may wish to consider buying a free-range turkey.

One important way to honor the gift of the turkey is to make sure every part of the animal is used. For giblet gravy, simmer the giblets and neck in a small pot of water with an onion for four to five hours; chop the giblets and neck meat, add with broth to the drippings from the roasted turkey and a smooth mixture of flour and water; stir and heat for 20 minutes; season to taste. (2) After all the turkey meat has been eaten, boil the bones for turkey stock.

If you believe, as many do, that the best way to honor animals’ spirits is by choosing not to eat their meat at all, there are many vegetarian options. Tofurky® is one of the most popular. This soy-based dish mimics a turkey meal, complete with stuffing, gravy, and wishbones. See for more information.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(1) Sunshine is quoted by her human companion Nedda Wittels at
(2) Recipe by Anna Catherine Saylor Bennett, who passed away in 2005.

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