If you can't imagine Thanksgiving without a turkey, then you might be surprised to learn that Durham has been home to the largest vegan Thanksgiving meal in the country for years.
This animal-free affair (that means no dairy, honey or meat), hosted by the Triangle Vegetarian Society, started as a friendly potluck between a few dozen vegetarians over 20 years ago and has taken place at Café Parizäde in Durham since 1999. It has grown from a one-room event to a meal with multiple seatings, several buffet lines and upward of 600 people in recent years.
So many people have been turned away in the past that a second meal has been added at Spice Street in Chapel Hill's University Mall, said Dilip Barman, the society's president.
The meal at Parizäde takes place in the afternoon, and the Spice Street event will be an evening affair for up to 150 people. As of press time, Parizäde had sold out, but seats were still available at Spice Street.
Chef Baptist Knaven (kah-na-vin) of Spice Street has been preparing for his maiden voyage since last week.
The Netherlands native stresses he has no intention of presenting a faux turkey-based spread.
"We do not want anyone to think this is a 'replacement' traditional Thanksgiving dinner," said Knaven. "We don't try and create a substitute turkey for example. All the recipes are true vegan recipes and approved by the Triangle Vegan Society."