Curtis Taylor, 33, was first introduced to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in sixth grade when he was writing a report on animal cruelty. This introduction led to his being a vegan for more than half of his life.
Now he has more of a reason to love the animal rights group. Taylor won an award from PETA for the all-vegan Easter dinner he made earlier this year; he submitted a photo of the meal to PETA’s Vegan Eats and Treats contest.
When he won the award, he says he couldn’t believe it. He adds that he never gambles and has never won a prize before, so it was the first time he’s ever won something.
Usually, Taylor would just bring a few sides to his aunt’s house for Easter, he says. But he decided to cook a full vegan Easter dinner meal for his family.
He cooked a Trader Joe’s Breaded Turkey-less Roast and put together a few sides, such as roasted red peppers stuffed with dairy-free mac and cheese and a vegan pumpkin pie.
His aunt was skeptical about trying the vegan Easter meal, but he won her over. She’s now preparing an all-vegan Thanksgiving meal this year. She’s just not a vegan — yet, he adds.
“She was thoroughly impressed enough to buy a Tofurky roast this year,” he says.
PETA awarded Taylor with $600 in gift cards, enough for six meal kits from Veestro, a vegan meal home delivery service.
Best of all, he says, it gave him more confidence in his ability to cook.
“I used to think, ‘Well, I think what I make tastes good for me,’” he says. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to share with others, and I definitely have more confidence in my cooking now. And it’s great to share with others.”
According to PETA, when turkeys are prepared for slaughter, they are hung by their feet from metal shackles and dragged through an electrified bath that can lead to full-body tremors — and are sometimes still alive when de-feathered.
Taylor says he doesn’t get close to the wild ones in Eugene, but he says he loves domesticated turkeys because of their sweet nature.
“They’re very inquisitive, cute, cluck along to music, like to be petted,” he says.
He says he gets his vegan recipes from Peta.org/Thanksgiving and got the vegan mac and cheese recipe from PETA2, the youth branch of the organization.
“Why not have a meal that celebrates animals?” he says. “More than 44 million turkeys are killed every year just for Thanksgiving so people can eat the holiday’s mascot.”
Even though it’s a presidential tradition to pardon a turkey, Taylor says those turkeys often die after the pardon because they’re carrying around a ton of weight since they’re bred for slaughter — so these animals are at death’s door despite the pardon.
“It really is fake news,” he says. “[Presidential pardons] are sponsored by the turkey industry.”