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Thanksgiving Without Turkey? Some In Atlanta Opt For A Meatless Holiday

A vegan Thanksgiving meal is served at West Hunter Street Baptist Church in Atlanta on Nov. 23
A vegan Thanksgiving meal is served at West Hunter Street Baptist Church in Atlanta on Nov. 23
Credit Emil Moffatt / WABE News

Adam Hicks said six years ago when he adopted a plant-based diet, the dinner table at Thanksgiving was not the most inviting place.

“At first, I was the only one in my family. But as they saw the benefits with me, like, I lost 90 pounds; I haven’t been sick in years,” he said.

His diet inspired both of his brothers to stop eating meat and other animal products. Hicks said while he’s still working on his parents, things have come a long way.

“So now our Thanksgiving is mostly, if not all, vegan now. So it’s pretty easy nowadays,” Hicks said.

Meat alternatives like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat are growing in popularity, even in Atlanta. But will that trend ever catch on for Thanksgiving where turkey has been a centerpiece for generations?

At least one Thanksgiving meal in Atlanta was meat-free. It happened last Saturday at West Hunter Street Baptist Church in Atlanta.

The dinner was meant to provide a Thanksgiving meal for families in need and was organized by several community organizations in Atlanta. It was also meant to give people the chance to experience a meat-free Thanksgiving.  The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, was also part of the dinner.

Pumpkin Pie, Stuffing, Cranberries and…Tofurkey?

On the surface, this meal had all the trappings of a traditional Thanksgiving, save for the tofurkey. That’s tofu prepared like a turkey. There was also stuffing, gravy and pumpkin pie

Jeanine Driscoll is a meat eater who was giving this vegan Thanksgiving a try.

“I like chicken. I’m sorry, I like meat, I can’t help that,” Driscoll said. “But it’s interesting. This was very interesting, and the cranberry was pretty good.”

Alyssa Green’s friend invited her to the meal. She’s not vegan, but does skip meat from time to time for a different reason.

“I think that a lot of vegan recipes are actually easier to make than recipes that include meat,” said Green. “And as someone who is not a very skilled cook, it’s easier for me to do that.”

Jermaine Durpi
Hip hop producer and rapper Jermaine Dupri helped serve vegan Thanksgiving meals on Nov. 23 in Atlanta. (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

Hip hop producer and rapper Jermaine Dupri helped serve the meals. He’s vegan and a spokesman for PETA. He sees Atlanta slowly offering more options for those with plant-based diets.

“You know, you gotta think, 14 years ago, when I became a vegan, it was really no places in Atlanta for me to eat,” Dupri said. “I would really have to go to different places to find food.”

Dupri said he wants to help educate people about veganism. He said Thanksgiving – a time when friends and families gather around the table to eat – is a good time to do that.