Upstate New York’s Farm Sanctuary is celebrating Thanksgiving early this year–and the guests of honor are turkeys! Each year the sanctuary promotes a cruelty-free Thanksgiving, encouraging animal lovers to adopt a turkey instead of eating one. The tables are turned, and the rescued turkeys dine on Thanksgiving treats, rather than becoming dinner themselves.

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For the past 25 years, the Farm Sanctuary has been a comfortable home for turkeys with around 80 living there today.  The turkeys find their way to the farms from anonymous drop-offs (sometimes disfigured from being housed in factories), being caught after straying from farms or trucks, and from farms that have been foreclosed or are in legal trouble.

With locations in New York and California, the shelter’s goal is to start a new Thanksgiving tradition of adopting a turkey instead of eating one. Donors may visit their turkeys at the farm, an opportunity for New York City folk to reconnect with nature, take a day trip to the country, and bring the family to meet their unique “pet.” It also poses an opportunity for kids to put a face to their Thanksgiving feast and to learn about where and what their food is.

The reverse Thanksgiving kicks off each year with a “Feeding of the Turkeys” celebration, where instead of fattening the turkeys up, they are fed for their own enjoyment.  The turkeys dine on holiday staples like stuffed squash, cranberries, and pumpkin pie, creating a new cruelty-free tradition for Thanksgiving dinner.

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Lead image © Jo-Anne McArthur via Farm Sanctuary