The Triangle Vegetarian Society (TVS) in central North Carolina has organized a fully plant-based vegan Thanksgiving feast at an area restaurant since 1993. Our event has become so popular that we believe we've hosted the largest vegetarian Thanksgiving in the country for the last 14 years!
Summary of our 2017 Event
Thanksgiving 2017 was another successful event. While we couldn't accommodate all who wanted to come, we did have 625 in attendance. In order to keep prices low for the extensive menu, we subsidize the meal but come out a little bit ahead due to our raffle, which, this year, featured 58 prizes worth $2,978, plus 766 free gifts worth $3,980.
During the program, we had a moment of remembrance for those in our lives who might be missing from Thanksgiving. Dilip mentioned three people in the vegetarian movement who passed away in 2017: Tom Regan, a founder of TVS and considered to be one of the most important animal rights philosophers, George Eisman, the first to teach a vegetarian nutrition class at the college level, and Alexandra Santilli, a long-time vegan advocate who participated in many international vegetarian events. Dilip thanked attendees, staff of Cafe Parizade including manager Igor Gacina, Chefs Robert Adams and Rodney Stevenson, Pastry Chef Lou Mincey, and owner Giorgos Bakatsias.
The third annual Lisa Shapiro award for an activist who makes a difference with kind activism went to high school student Noelle Finlay. A vegan since birth, she has had an engaged ongoing discussion with her peers throughout much of elementary school, gently arguing for moving to a plant-based diet primarily for ethical reasons. Now she is reading the China Study to further educate herself about health aspects of veganism. She has participated with much older people on an ethics panel, put together a detailed 3-4 month project on veganism in 8th grade, created and distributed a pamphlet about veganism, and, in her freshman year of high school, did a science fair project about farming and its effects on global warming.
In honor of Tom Regan, we honored somebody who follows in Tom's footsteps by considering and applying philosophical considerations to improve the treatment of animals. The first Tom Regan award went to James DeAlto. James founded Vegans for Peace and the much-copied worldwide Vegan Chalk Challenge. Vegans for Peace's "mission is to promote veganism as an expansive moral philosophy based on nonviolence, love, mercy, equality and justice for all living beings". James organizes an annual Vegan Moral March on Raleigh (a video summary of the 2017 event is available). In addition, he supports other social justice marches and causes; he partners with groups like Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge and Triangle VegFest, but also others like Love Wins Ministries, NAACP, and others. Dilip acknowledged as well Andrea Kiefer, who co-founded Vegans for Peace and partners with their many outreach activities.
We were featured in a big front-page story online Thanksgiving evening and in print (with a large picture of TVSer Pravin Shah helping himself to food) the next day in the News and Observer. Several evening news programs covered the event. A new organization, VegiPlus TV, was there with their crew for most of the event working on a 30-minute show, their first.
Many thanks to the many volunteers who helped make TVS Thanksgiving happen. The event couldn't happen without our webmaster Ken Guttman, who again put together an effective lottery-based event website (this year we required pre-paying upon entering the lottery). Josie Sianez and Kathy Borkowski called for raffle prizes. We recognized Kathy, Josie, and Ken with special gifts at the event.
Thanks to Brian Donlon and Helene Greenberg for setting up an excellent, extensive set of free literature; Sumathi Ramaswamy, Rich Freeman, Lisa and Noelle Finlay, Kathy and Linda Borkowski, Lenore Braford, Paul Drake, and Brian Donlon for checking people in; Russ Savre and Ruth Stanton for collecting a number of raffle prizes; Nate Hathaway, Johnny Gregory, and Raymond Conroy for selling raffle tickets; Sangeeta Godbole for organizing the raffle; and many folks who helped distribute raffle prizes, including Therese Garrett, Josie Sianez, Stacy Gunter and her children, Janice Clark, and Tom Bryan. A number of children helped draw raffle tickets, too!