IDEAS for Us
IDEAS for Us | November 24, 2017

Turkey for Thanksgiving? Perhaps You Shouldn’t Have.

With Thanksgiving creeping up on our belt sizes, the traditional season of indulgence has begun. According to, there is roughly 51,650,000 turkeys that are consumed annually on Thanksgiving Day with a total of $2,983,000,000 spent. That’s not even including the price of the green beans, and you made sure to compliment your nana on her green beans, right? Please make sure to do that.

As we consume and gorge ourselves with those green beans, and potatoes, both sweet and mashed, we also dispose of and trail waste behind us. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a value of roughly $293 million worth of turkeys ended up in the trash. The numbers speak for themselves when NRDC’s “Foods Matters” report in October 2017 says that about 11% of edible food is thrown away simply because the person does not want to eat leftovers. With this amount of wastefulness we experience annually, there has to be a way to combat this mass graveyard of calories that we so frivolously toss out once the football game is turned off.

One way is to have a realistic mindset about how much food is needed, and to prepare and purchase foods that equate to that expectation. If you do end up with waste, be sure to compost the fruits, starches and vegetables, because if it sent to your local landfill, the specific conditions in which it decomposes there produces methane – a greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change. When you compost, however, methane-producing microbes are not active with oxygen’s presence,  so methane is not produced. If you want to start your own backyard compost – there is plenty of information for you on the web.

Perhaps the best change you could make is by making a change to the menu itself. According to Drawdown, a book based “on meticulous research that maps, measures, models, and describes the most substantive solutions to global warming that already exist,” eating a plant-based diet is the 4th best solution an individual or society could adopt to curb day-to-day carbon emissions. In fact, according to one study cited in Drawdown, emissions could be reduced by up to 70% by adopting a vegan diet and 63% for a vegetarian diet (so yes, that means you can still have milk, eggs, and cheese).

If you don’t want to make a complete change to your diet, however, perhaps consider substituting some of the major wasteful meals, such as Thanksgiving. You don’t have to search the web extensively to find a variety of articles online that can provide you with tips to throw a perfect vegan Thanksgiving.

This inclusion of vegan dishes is imperative to the future of Thanksgiving. The world we live in is changing and adapting at a button-breaking pace. The way we eat, waste, and move is something everyone should be aware of.  Thanksgiving is about giving thanks and celebrating abundance, not taking it for granted. Between the wasted food and travel pollution, there is a lot of impact to be diverted this time of year. So, please celebrate with an open plate, informed mind, and a caring heart. Try not to be wasteful, and please compliment your Nana’s green beans. She worked so hard on them.