Talking Turkey: Altnernatives to Tradition

Every autumn, supermarket shoppers start checking their receipts to see how far along they are toward receiving their free turkey or ham. In an economic climate turned wintry, it's a tradition many are reluctant to break. Yet, the growing awareness in wellness and sustainability is creating interest in alternatives like organic cranberry sauce, vegan pumpkin pie and meat substitutes. Last year we

Every autumn, supermarket shoppers start checking their receipts to see how far along they are toward receiving their free turkey or ham. In an economic climate turned wintry, it's a tradition many are reluctant to break.

Yet, the growing awareness in wellness and sustainability is creating interest in alternatives like organic cranberry sauce, vegan pumpkin pie and meat substitutes.

“Last year we had 37% growth,” said Seth Tibbott, CEO of Turtle Island Foods, maker of Tofurky, the meat analog that's gone from fringe to feast in the 12 years since it was introduced. “Holidays are about 18% of our gross now, and most of those sales are during the fourth quarter.”

The Bend River, Ore.-based company is the lead partner in “Tofurky Tuesdays,” a new campaign that solicits consumer pledges to eat meat-free once a week. The initiative promotes the idea that meatless meals help reduce the impact on global warming and allow families to experiment with vegetarian foods.

Even traditionalists are adapting to the times. A Thanksgiving dinner for 700 low-income families in New York will feature birds that were humanely raised and certified by Animal Welfare Approved, a co-sponsor of the meal.

“People are waking up to the truth about the way farm animals are raised, and better understand the confinement systems prevalent today,” said Andrew Gunther, a former Whole Foods Market executive who is currently Animal Welfare Approved's program director.