History of the TVS Thanksgiving


TVS was formed in 1986. In 1986 or 1987, we apparently had turkeys for Thanksgiving – i.e., live turkeys eating alongside us at a potluck dinner, and made it on national TV. We continued to celebrate Thanksgiving as a potluck dinner for several years at a church meeting room near Duke University in Durham. Around 1994, we decided to try a restaurant Thanksgiving, and ate at Govinda's in Carrboro. If memory serves, since Govinda's went out of business, we had our feast at the Regulator Cafe in Hillsborough in 1995 and 1996. (Every year from 1996 on, we have made it to the evening news!)

Unfortunately, the Regulator Cafe, too, went out of business, so in 1997 we had our feast at the Irregardless Cafe in Raleigh; we had about 100 guests and were on both channel 5 and FOX TV. We were again on the news, but just for a 20-second spot, in 1998 at Irregardless, and began having a raffle.


We made our move to Cafe Parizade in 1999, had 83 people, sold 238 raffle tickets, and had exceptional media coverage (Channel 17 did a piece a few days before, and Channel 11, the News & Observer, and possibly the Spectator all covered the event). In 2000, we had over 100 attendees, sold 368 raffle tickets, had 86 raffle prizes, and were on 3 or maybe 4 of the evening news programs. In 2003, brimming with 281 attendees sharing the restaurant with the general public in the back, we had excellent coverage by both of the major local newspapers (Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News and Observer) and were on at least one evening news program.

2004 was a particularly exciting year as we believed we now had grown to be the country's largest vegetarian Thanksgiving with 360 attendees. We had good local press coverage with a pre-event article in the Durham Herald-Sun newspaper and Channels 5 and 17 covering us and giving positive coverage in their news on Thanksgiving Day, plus having three large and delicious pictures from our event on the cover of the Durham Herald-Sun food section the day after Thanksgiving. In addition, we attracted national attention with freelance writer and photographer Linda Long flying down from New York to cover the event for California-based VegNews and New Jersey-based American Vegan; we subsequently had cover articles in the summer 2005 issue of American Vegan and Thanksgiving 2005 issue of VegNews.

Fast Forward to 2022

On November 24, 2022, we returned to Parizade for the 24rd year for our Thanksgiving Feast. Due to the pandemic, we couldn't have our normal jam-packed Thanksgiving, but Parizade was happy to host 298 socially-distanced attendees. We continued to offer a fully plant-based menu. We also had a raffle -- check out the prizes!

On November 22, 2022, we had a Pre-Thanksgiving feast at the vegan restaurant Coco Bistro & Bar in Chapel Hill, NC. The fully plant-based menu was enjoyed by 78 attendees. We also had a raffle -- check out the prizes!

Number of Guests Attending our Feasts

The following table shows the total number of guests attending each year's Thanksgiving feast(s) from 2005 through last year.

Year Guests
2005 475
2006 365
2007 525
2008 578
2009 788
2010 807
2011 876
2012 976
2013 804
2014 742
2015 819
2016 705
2017 625
2018 695
2019 698
2020 404
2021 345
2022 376

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