11/22/2011 11:35 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Kill a Turkey, or Go Veggie

Turkey gets a lot of airtime this week. There are a million recipes to brine, baste, smoke and stuff the bird as well as a plethora of ways to make mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and sweet potato pie. So I decided to do a little twist on our traditional Thanksgiving meal and show a "road less traveled" take on the good ole standbys:

Leek, Celery Root and pumpkin seed stuffing

Raw Brussel Sprouts and Wild Rice salad

Mashed Sunchokes

Recipes HERE.

You'll notice that all of these dishes are vegetarian. There is a reason for that. This is the third year that I've created a Thanksgiving video, and the first where I haven't killed a turkey on film. I think we both needed a year off. Buying your frozen wrapped bird at the grocery store is very different from seeing the live turkey and slaughtering/butchering/cooking him yourself. It's an important thing for us meat eaters to experience. Which is why I filmed it in the first place. So for those of you who havent seen them yet, here is a look back... the very first episode of the Perennial Plate:

Episode 1: Turkeys

(Yep, This is the same video that turned my girlfriend/camerawoman into a vegetarian). Two years ago, I purchased a live turkey from Farm on Wheels in Dillon MN. He stayed in my backyard chicken coop until the day before thanksgiving when I brought him to my grandma's house and together with my family slaughtered him, plucked him and prepared him for dinner. It was an emotional, challenging and important moment for me and my young cousins, as it helped us to understand life and be truly thankful for this little bird who was losing his.

Episode 36: Giving Thanks to Turkeys

Last year, I visitedLTD farm, where farmer Khaiti Khaleck invited families to help butcher their turkeys and learn about the process. It's a very touching, heartfelt and difficult (at times) look at what goes on during the weeks before thanksgiving. The killing of animals is never easy, and there are many factory farms and feed lots who do so with an acute lack of care for the animal and its life. Its places like LTD Farm that show you there are farmers out there who do care about their animals, struggle with their deaths and do their best to honor each life.

A warning that both these videos are graphic and show the killing of the turkeys. (The first video does not). However you choose to celebrate Thanksgiving this year -- be it meat eater, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, lactose intolerant, what-have-you -- I hope it's a good one.

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