Kids & Pets
August 6, 2020
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Save the turkeys

By: Mickey Zeldes
November 15, 2019

Am I reading too much into this situation?  A rafter of turkeys recently started hanging around the shelter.  And it’s Nov., which means Thanksgiving is coming.  Sooooo?  Is this a coincidence? Are they hanging here seeking protection?

It is estimated that on Thursday, Nov. 28, 46 million (46,000,000) turkeys will be consumed.  Since it’s our job to protect animals and these animals are on and near our property it seems apropos to make the connection and at least mention that there are delicious alternatives available.  Maybe you will be sharing the table with a vegan or vegetarian - they say there is bound to be at least one in most family gatherings!  So what do you feed them?  In addition to being kinder, the holidays can be made a bit healthier with actually very little effort.

Want to keep your holiday favorites?  It’s easy to “veganize" recipes.  Substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock; Rice, almond or soy milk for dairy milk; vegetable margarine for butter, etc.  Those are simple things that most people wouldn’t even notice if you didn’t point it out.  When you think about it, most side dishes are vegetables anyway – squash, green beans, mashed potatoes and cranberries.  So if you don’t add any meat, or meat-based stock to them, you already have plenty of vegan food for all to enjoy.   

Looking for a main dish idea?  There are many turkey substitutes available.  Look no further than Tofurky, a seitan roll with stuffing; Gardein has a stuffed “turkey” as well as a holiday “roast;” Quorn has a vegetarian (not vegan) turk’y, Harvest Celebration has a field roast and Vegetarian Plus has gone all out and has a whole turkey (looks like the real thing complete with drumsticks).  These are simple options for those of you who don’t want the work involved in creating your own centerpiece dish.

Not interested in a mock meat substitute? (not exactly a health food, it’s true.)  If you are willing to try your hand at a new recipe there are many fantastic ones to try.  Google “holiday vegan main dishes” and it comes up with 33,000,000 hits!  You will find vegetable loafs with mushroom gravy, pumpkin or other squashes filled with various stuffing, puff pastry loaf with lentils and more.  I just found one made with crescent rolls filled with squash and kale that would make a beautiful centerpiece to a meal – and sounded delicious.  Can’t wait to try it!

If you’re interested in learning more about veganism and healthy eating, Compassionate Living is a local support group that has a variety of social and educational events including a vegan Thanksgiving potluck.  Go to their web-site ( for more info and sign-up for meeting notifications through Meet Up.  There are also some excellent educational videos out now that will inspire and educate you without being lecture-y.  Forks over Knives is a very good one to start with for anyone just curious about veganism or the environmental impacts of our diet.  You can rent it on YouTube for just $2.99.

As I make my holiday meal I will definitely be thinking of the turkeys near the shelter and how lucky they are.  They are wild birds so we won’t impound them and try to adopt them out but still – they won’t end up on someone’s plate.  Think of them and incorporate a little kindness into your holiday meal.  They truly do thank you!


Upcoming Events

“Get Them Back Home” Campaign – Every lost pet should have a way to get back home.  FREE pet ID tag and a back-up microchip are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati.  No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wed. 1-6:30; Thurs.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30; Sun. 1-4:30.


Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents.  Call 588-3531 for an appointment. 


Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at