Turkeys get served at this Thanksgiving feast, but not on a plate

Rebecca Crockett
November 25, 2019 - 4:00 am
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Dittmer, MO - At this Thanksgiving feast, turkey is at the table, but not on it. 

 The Gentle Barn, outside of St. Louis, is hosting a 'Gentle Thanksgiving' - a vegan feast where turkey isn't eaten, but served their own meals.

For 20 years they've been doing Thanksgiving a bit different at the farm.

Founder Ellie Laks says their gourmet meal on Thanksgiving Day offers all the traditional fixings, but instead of turkey, patrons eat a full vegan feast of plant-based foods. 

There's also a drum circle and turkey cuddling, says founder Ellie Laks.

Yes. Turkey cuddling. 

"People come from around the world to cuddle the turkeys, to admire the boy turkeys and tell them they're handsome, to feed the turkeys pie, and to celebrate life," explains Laks.

Laks says the tradition began after rescuing her first turkey from Thanksgiving dinner nearly two decades ago.

The turkey followed her for a period of time on the farm before Laks decided to sit down on the ground with the turkey. That's when she discovered that the turkey wanted to cuddled her out of gratitude, according to Laks. She says the turkey fell asleep on her lap.

Laks explained how to cuddle a turkey, "Sit down on the ground, you put one leg on either side of them, you scooch up real close so the turkey is literally in front of you, and then you put your hands under their wings, and you stroke and pet them."

The Gentle Barn is a nonprofit animal welfare organization based in Santa Clarita, California, with locations in Tennessee and in Dittmer, Missouri, a few miles outside St. Louis.

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