Charlotte Zelz made a big decision last summer. A decision that would seem big to lots of other people, that is -- but to her, it just made sense. This past August, 12-year-old Charlotte gave up meat.
"I never really liked meat anyway. My Mom said she saw it coming," she said. "Then I did more research and decided that I also didn't want to hurt animals. My cousin is a vegetarian, and she made me feel like it was something kids could do, as well as adults. It's just a good idea."
When Zelz, a seventh-grade student at William S. Cohen Middle School in Bangor, sits down at the Thanksgiving dinner table next week, she will abstain from turkey and gravy. Instead, she'll load up on roasted vegetables and vegetarian stuffing. Like millions of other vegetarians and vegans in the United States, she will have a meat-free meal on a day that's synonymous with the big bird.
"My Mom and I have been looking through cookbooks," she said. "I really like sweet potatoes, so I think we'll do something with that."
Click here for some great recipes beyond the big bird.
Depending on the guests gathered at a meal, the vegetarian experience can range from mashed everything and cranberry sauce to a delicious array of herbivorous treats. Some families will happily accommodate a vegetarian, while some look on with pity as a grandchild or sibling turns down turkey. With the exception of the actual turkey, however, there's not one Thanksgiving staple that can't be made vegetarian, or even vegan -- a simple Google search will reveal plenty of recipes for vegan pumpkin pie, stuffings and even green bean casseroles (a recipe is included).