VeganMoFo: "T" is for ThanksLiving at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

The “V” Word continues its celebration of VeganMoFo, a month of Vegan food, with the other 25 letters of the alphabet. Today’s letter is extra-special because it stands for my favorite event at my very favorite place in the world. “T” is for ThanksLiving at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

This was my 2nd time attending ThanksLiving at Woodstock Sanctuary. If it’s possible, I enjoyed it even more than I did the first time (read about my 1st time here). Maybe it was because the tickets were a gift from someone very special to me. Maybe it was because the date fell right before my wedding anniversary so it was a double celebration. Maybe it was because I got to spend the day with one of my very special friends.

Maybe it was all of the above or maybe it was just because of the magic that is Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

The sold-out event had 250 guests arriving for ThanksLiving dinner under a heated tent in the goat pasture. The Rick Altman Trio was playing live music. We got there early and Trista and I headed over to visit the pigs. I tried to take a picture of Stanley but he was not in the mood for the paparazzi so I left him alone. Little Dude was lying down and I squatted down to have my picture taken with him but he turned and knocked me over with his snout! I got my picture anyway.

Little Dude arrived at the sanctuary in August 2010. He and his brother were being raised by a man who planned to butcher them and in the meantime, was neglecting them both. The piglets were screaming with hunger and a couple who were neighbors kept sneaking over to feed them. One of the piglets died and after many confrontations with the owner who wanted to butcher and eat “Dude” at only 2 months old, the couple got possession of the pig. They kept him for over a year but they didn’t have the right place to keep him. Many neighbors offered to take him, all with various plans to kill and eat “Dude.” Eventually, they took him to Woodstock Sanctuary where he lives today.

For more of Little Dude’s story and for pictures of him as a piglet, see his page on the WFAS site here.

Then we went to watch the main event: the turkeys were fed their ThanksLiving dinner. What a feast. Butternut squash, cornbread and other goodies were laid out on a festive platter. Beatrice, Petunia, Boone and Alphonso dug into their celebratory dinner. And these beautiful birds certainly have a lot to celebrate.

Alphonso’s feet are calloused and overgrown. Boone was born with his tongue in his throat rather than in his beak which makes it harder for him to eat. Beatrice came from a commercial turkey farm where she was purchased live as a Thanksgiving gift for someone who eventually turned her over to a wildlife rehab worker. Petunia was found being chased in the streets by children. She was bought by a man who thought it was funny to present her at the table during dinner. After his joke, he stuck her in the backyard and Petunia escaped.

Now these beautiful turkeys and others have a safe home at Woodstock Sanctuary. Here they are served dinner, not FOR dinner. In fact, the tradition at ThanksLiving is for the turkeys to be fed their dinner first before the human guests. They are the guests of honor.

Boone eating dinner

Trista and I got to feed these lovelies. We each had a hunk of cornbread which the feathered ladies gobbled right out of our hands!

Me feeding Beatrice and Petunia

Then it was our turn to eat. While we walked around bidding on silent auction items (hot air balloon ride, anyone?), deciding which goodie package to bet our raffle tickets on (last year I won a beautiful Etsy bag; this year I didn’t win but Trista did!) and picking out another t-shirt (because you can never have too many WFAS shirts), appetizers were passed around.

Faux Gras Crostini by The Regal Vegan, Faux Beef Medallions with Bernaise Sauce by David Silver (who made the dinner last year) and my absolute favorites: Buffalo Bites and Cape Cod Cakes by Blossom Restaurant. They were so delicious it was impossible to get a second one!

Then we sat down to something I had been eagerly looking forward to: a dinner prepared by cookbook author Terry Hope Romero. I had met Terry once at a Book Expo where she signed a copy of her book, Viva Vegan!, for me. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to eat her food. Talk about starstruck!

We had Chipotle Sweet Potato Bisque with Cashew Crema, Savage River Faux Chicken Rojas in Orange Garlic Mojo, Cornbread Sofrito Stuffing with Veggie Chorizo and Massaged Kale Salad with Raisins and Toasted Almonds. It was the most amazing meal I’ve ever had. Every single thing was delicious. I could have easily eaten a second plate. In fact, a woman at our table had 2 little kids who weren’t eating their food and she probably saw me eyeing it because she quickly packed it away 🙂

I thought I was cheating on my gluten-free diet when I ate this meal which I was quite willing to do to eat Terry’s food. And while I did eat gluten, I was surprised to find out that the faux chicken was not seitan but a new product that will be marketed soon from Savage River. And it’s gluten-free!!! Here I thought it was the most delicious seitan I ever tasted and it wasn’t even seitan. I can’t wait until this becomes available in stores.

Finally each table was served  “a selection of outrageous desserts” by Vegan Treats. Now those of you who know me know I don’t even like dessert. Well, I ate enough dessert for a year. My favorite just happened to be the gluten-free pumpkin cake. They brought a second one to our table but everyone was already stuffed so I got to take it home. Score!

Benny didn’t want any of the dinner that was provided but he enjoyed the Lazy Dog Coconut Carob PupSqueaks that Trista bought him.

After dinner, WFAS founder, Jenny Brown, said a few words (there were no speakers this year) about sanctuary news, their beautiful new Bed and Breakfast, and the importance of saving, not eating, the animals.

WFAS Bed and Breakfast

Winners of the silent auction were announced and then it was time to visit the animals again and mingle with friends. The sun had hidden behind the clouds and it was getting chilly. We went on a tour of the new Bed and Breakfast and then came the hardest part: leaving. It is SO hard to leave the sanctuary. When I am there, I feel so calm, so at peace. I feel like I belong there with the animals. It’s a safe place, a place filled with love and compassion. I wanted to go hide in the barn and stay there with Little Dude.

But, alas, we got our WFAS tote bags filled with tons of Vegan goodies, said our goodbyes and hit the road. It was an amazing time with compassionate people and cherished animals. I feel so lucky to have experienced this incredible event two years in a row. I’m already anticipating next year!

“T” is for ThanksLiving at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. For other “T” words, check out my Tofu Nuggets and Raw Kale Salad, my Tempeh Po’ Boy Sandwich, my Tofu in Spicy Pepper Sauce and my very special, contest-winning Tofu Piccata.

The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.

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7 Responses to VeganMoFo: "T" is for ThanksLiving at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

  1. Debbie October 31, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    I so want to visit Woodstock Animal Sanctuary. I’m a member but have never been to the sanctuary. Thanks for the great pictures.

  2. vegan.in.brighton October 27, 2011 at 6:36 am #

    That looks like such a great day, I love Farm Sanctuary.

  3. hotveganchickpeas October 26, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Thank you for sharing such an amazing experience! It looks like you have a wonderful time. I live a few hours away from the CA sanctuary and have always wanted to visit.

  4. Rhea Parsons October 26, 2011 at 6:11 am #

    JL, so glad you were there and had a great time! I should have taken pics of the inside of the B&B. It’s beautiful!

  5. JL goes Vegan October 26, 2011 at 3:29 am #

    Love this recap! I was there, too, and wrote up a recap last Friday. Truly one of the best special events I have ever attended! I didn’t get a chance to swing by the B&B (I remembered about 15 minutes after we left….doh!) so thanks for the picture. I definitely want to stay there. My heart is with Clover the goat. I adore all of the animals, though!

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