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Happy Tofurky Day: Vegetarian Thanksgivings on Rise

Acceptance of the holiday dinner underdog has grown steadily since the product's introduction in 1995.

It's not exactly a vegetarian takeover, but still something for Tofurky lovers to celebrate: The three-millionth Tofurky Roast was sold last week, according to a Turtle Island Foods statement.

Tofurky—invented by Chevy Chase native Seth Tibbott, The Washington Post reported—was first introduced in 1995 by the small Oregon-based food processor. That year, 500 Tofurky Roasts were sold from about 20 natural foods stores in the Pacific Northwest, according to the statement.

Since then, Tofurky acceptance has improved every year.

The Tofurky Roast is "a savory combination of organic tofu, wheat protein, plant extracts and spices that give it a taste and texture similar to a boneless breast of turkey stuffed with a wild rice, celery and whole wheat bread crumb stuffing," according to a description offered by Turtle Island Foods. When unveiled, it stands as a large, oblong ball of beige-colored protein.

Tofurkys may be purchased a la carte (serving about five people, depending on appetite size), with gravy, or as an entire "Vegetarian Feast," complete with "Jurky Wishstix." 

A full serving of Tofurky has more than 30 grams of protein—a useful fact for vegetarians to whip out in the face of fellow diners skeptical of the food's nutritive value. Additional nutritional ammunition: Tofurkys have calcium and iron. (See the nutritional information for details.)

Nearly 2 million pounds of grain were needed to make 3 million Tofurkys. In comparison, "to make this much turkey meat would require almost 20 million pounds of grain. Therefore ... almost 18 million pounds of grain [have been] saved," according to a Turtle Island Foods statement.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that Americans will consume 12.5 percent less turkey meat this year than in 2008.

"A 2011 Harris Poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group of Baltimore, MD, concluded that 17 percent of Americans now eat 50 percent of all their meals without meat," the statement added.

Perhaps the growing popularity of meatless meals has something to do with price—Tofurkys cost less per serving, on average, than do their formerly feathered counterparts.

Butterball.com's portion calculator suggests a 16-pound turkey will feed 10 adults with normal appetites, and with no leftovers remaining. A 16-20 pound Butterball Tom Turkey was listed for $25.02 on Peapod.com (about $2.22 per person) for ZIP code 20815 on Tuesday evening. In comparison, a Tofurky Roast (without gravy or Jurky Wishstix), costs about $9 in the Chevy Chase/Washington, DC, area and serves five people—or $1.80 a serving. 

Read about how to prepare a Tofurky on Wheaton Patch. 

Have you ever tried Tofurky? Would you consider adding a Tofurky Roast to your Thanksgiving table? Tell us in the comments.

Ed Murtagh November 21, 2012 at 09:25 PM
We have had Tofurkey at Thanksgiving for years. I think taste has improved over time, which might help explain its growing popularity. We will have the vegetarian feast with the wishstix tomorrow. The cost per serving reference surprised me. We paided a lot for our Tofurkey. Even though they are expensive, they were nearly sold out at the store.
Jim Corcoran November 21, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Clinical studies have found that casein, a protein in all dairy products, blocks the absorption of antioxidants and renders them useless to our body. Get healthier by going vegan! http://nutritionfacts.org/video/nutrient-blocking-effects-of-dairy/ Find a vegan Thanksliving event near you and share a dish! http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/7379/p/salsa/event/common/public/search.sjs?distributed_event_KEY=277

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