5 Reasons it’s okay not to serve a turkey

Let one turkey keep gobbling!

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Although turkey is the most common protein associated with Thanksgiving, there's no rule written in stone that you have to serve it. Need a reason to spare Tom the Turkey? Here are five.

Leftovers are kind of overrated

If sandwiches consisting of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes with gravy were that great, we'd be making them year-round; it's not like stores don't carry turkey all the time. Don't get me wrong — I don't mind munching on whatever's left after the big meal, but not for the whole week following Thanksgiving. In my experience, even when it's properly prepared and stored, the turkey will be dried out before your guests even leave.

Oven space is valuable

Even if you're cooking a turkey breast or some other cut that's less space-consuming, that shelf in the oven is coveted real estate. Just think of all the other dishes that you could be baking in that spot — sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, fluffy rolls and apple pie all come to mind. Turkey is good, but to me, apple pie is top priority.

Vegetarian diets are becoming more prevalent

Five years ago, I didn't know a single vegetarian, and now I have three friends who are dedicated to the diet and one who's completely vegan. Chances are good that there will be at least one vegetarian at your dinner table, so why not take his or her feelings into consideration and make something meat-free? Tofurkey gets a lot of negative comments, but having tried a slice of it myself, I can say with confidence that it's nowhere near as bad as some people make it seem. If you're adamantlly against tofu, other options are available — you could do a veggie lasagna or pot pie as the main course.

Tryptophan can be dangerous stuff

It's been scientifically proven (and also disproven, for the record) that the consumption of turkey can lead to drowsiness due to its high levels of the amino acid Tryptophan. That can be bad news for someone driving back home immediately after the Thanksgiving meal. Some better options might be a coffee-crusted steak or espresso-rubbed baby back ribs.

Times have changed

It's important to observe tradition, but it's also important that we start some traditions of our own. Turkey was the pilgrims' thing, but what if my family loves quesadillas? What if your crowd is a fan of spaghetti with meatballs? When families come together, they should eat what they want, not what the history books tell them is appropriate.

Does your family serve something other than turkey for Thanksgiving? If so, what do you prepare?

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