Thanksgiving in the United States is a holiday that emphasizes roast turkey as the traditional meal. The National Turkey Federation reports that more than 45 million of the birds meet their doom in November. But at one farm, the turkeys are not the main course - instead, they're the guests of honor.
It’s morning at the Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, and everyone is just waking up. Volunteers gather around the table and prepare a traditional, Thanksgiving feast.
But… with a twist.
"So many millions of turkeys are killed at Thanksgiving for normal celebrations that people do. The turkeys here are all rescued, and we wanted them to be the guests of honor," said Terry Cummings.
Americans typically serve turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner… but today, the turkeys get a seat at the table… instead of on it.
For the past 14 years, Cummings and her husband have hosted "Thanksgiving with the Turkeys."
"We want to promote compassion for all animals... and we want to try to show people that there's another way that they can celebrate Thanksgiving without killing animals.
They got full tables with all different foods that they like. Most of the birds - chickens and turkeys - like fruit of almost any kind. And tofu… that was kind of accidental," she said.
Deborah Block's Thanksgiving report:
After the birds get their feast… the humans get one, too. They call it the world’s largest, vegan potluck, and more than 800 people turned out this year to share and sample food prepared by other guests.
People were pretty excited about it, because it's an interesting event; it’s not a traditional thing. It feels really good to be a part of something like this and to see so many people being so supportive of the animals and caring about the animals and wanting to teach their children to be compassionate towards animals. I was a meat eater for 30 years. I didn’t think about the animals. Even though I loved the animals, I didn’t make the connection between the animals that were on my plate and the animals that I supposedly loved," Cummings said.
Cummings says the goal is to show turkeys in a positive light… and to get people to think more about what’s on their tables… and on their plates.