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Turkey-free Thanksgiving – November 28, 2024

Turkey-free Thanksgiving, observed on the fourth Thursday in November, is a part of Thanksgiving Day that offers those averse to turkey or meat a different alternative. This year, it will be celebrated on November 28. This holiday encourages people to try various recipes for their Thanksgiving dinner. Whether you dislike turkey or you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, this holiday is for you. A vegetarian meal is a much healthier option for those wanting to work their dietary needs into the holiday. There are many delicious dishes to replace turkey. Try vegetarian recipes for meatloaf, pot pie, quiche, or Shepherd’s pie. You’ll be looking forward to your Thanksgiving leftovers!

History of Turkey-free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated annually in many parts of the world. This holiday began with the pilgrims, a group of English families known as the Separatists, as they created divisions of Christianity that went against the Church of England. The 102 passengers boarded the Mayflower in 1620 to find a home in the New World where they were able to freely practice their religion without fear of prosecution. They established the Plymouth Colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The pilgrims remained on the ship during their first winter and suffered from scurvy and other diseases, with only half of them surviving. They left their ship when the weather warmed up. They were greeted by Native American tribes that taught them how to cultivate crops and catch fish. Their harmonious relationship with the Native American tribes lasted over 50 years. In 1621, the pilgrims celebrated their successful harvest by inviting the neighboring tribes for a feast. This was the first Thanksgiving and the pilgrims continued their tradition. The U.S. gained independence in 1776 after the American Revolution. In 1789, George Washington called to make Thanksgiving a national holiday in which Americans celebrated their victory and expressed gratitude for their newfound independence. Abraham Lincoln supported this holiday and made the first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1863. It became an official holiday when Congress passed legislation in 1870.

Thanksgiving is now unrecognizable from when it first started. The meals were made up of Native American spices and recipes. Turkey only became part of the holiday in the 19th century because it was large enough for an entire family and could lay eggs for the months leading up to Thanksgiving. The pilgrims hosted this holiday to thank the Native Americans who saved their lives but now people celebrate to express gratitude for everything they have.

Turkey-free Thanksgiving timeline


English families board the Mayflower looking for a new home.

Autumn Harvest

After a harsh winter and many deaths, the pilgrims celebrate a bountiful harvest.

American Revolution

Americans gain independence from the British.

New Traditions

George Washington encourages Americans to celebrate their independence and show gratitude.


Congress makes Thanksgiving a national holiday.

Turkey-free Thanksgiving FAQs

What is served at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner?

Thanksgiving dinner usually includes turkey, gravy, stuffing, potatoes, and pie.

What protein can vegetarians eat on Thanksgiving?

Some protein options include seitan, quinoa, tofu, lentils, vegetables, oats, and grains.

Is gravy vegetarian?

While gravy itself is not vegetarian, there are alternatives suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Turkey-free Thanksgiving Activities

  1. Make a turkey-free feast

    The most obvious way to celebrate this holiday is by choosing an alternative to turkey. For a classic meal, try roast chicken or ham. For vegetarians looking for a grandiose alternative, make a stuffed pumpkin — it’ll look great on the dinner table and make for eye-catching pictures. An easier option is a pot pie with a sweet potato and vegetable filling.

  2. Share your creations

    Try various recipes and bring some around to offer turkey-free alternatives for your friends and family. Share the recipe and enjoy the meal. Maybe the new tradition will catch on.

  3. Research recipes

    There are so many delicious and exciting recipes to replace your main course. Search through the thousands of variations and try a few options ahead of Thanksgiving to ensure a hearty and appetizing dish.

5 Surprising Facts About Thanksgiving

  1. Thanksgiving date was changed

    Thanksgiving was originally on the last Thursday in November, but Roosevelt celebrated it on November 23, 1939, to allow for more shopping days to help businesses during the Great Depression.

  2. Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed by presidents

    Previously, presidents had to make a Thanksgiving proclamation to decide on the holiday’s date, but Thomas Jefferson refused to set a day in 1801, finding that it contradicted the First Amendment.

  3. It was first celebrated in New York

    Although New York was the first state to officially celebrate this holiday in 1817, it took several more years for the tradition to become known in the American South.

  4. There was no turkey

    While it’s unknown what meat was originally consumed on Thanksgiving, it was likely venison, duck, goose, oysters, lobster, and several types of fish, as well as pumpkins and cranberries, but not in the way we make them today.

  5. It all started with one woman

    Sarah Josepha Hale, known for writing ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb,’ wrote to Abraham Lincoln for 17 years trying to persuade him to make Thanksgiving a national holiday, as she believed it would unify the nation and celebrate peace.

Why We Love Turkey-free Thanksgiving

  1. It’s healthy

    While turkey has health benefits, it’s high in fat and cholesterol, not to mention that most of us focus on the carbs and forget to eat our share of vegetables. This holiday offers us some alternatives to meat and some hearty dishes to fill up on.

  2. It’s ethical

    A turkey-free dinner is essential for animal lovers that wish to remove meat from their diet or offer up another food option as a compromise. It’s not only good for the turkey, but it also helps the environment as factory farms produce 130 times as much excrement as the U.S. population. There are currently no laws on how to dispose of those excrements.

  3. It’s delicious

    There are so many alternatives much more delicious and nutritious than the classic turkey dish. Experiment and try fun new recipes.

Turkey-free Thanksgiving dates

2022November 24Thursday
2023November 23Thursday
2024November 28Thursday
2025November 27Thursday
2026November 26Thursday

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