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It’s Thanksgiving, a time where family and friends gather to enjoy one another, delicious appetizers and football games. After hours of catching up with relatives it comes time for the main event: Thanksgiving dinner.

Everyone’s excitement builds as the wonderful feast is laid out on the dinner table. As you approach the table you begin looking around to see where your assigned seat is. You finally locate it and gasp in silent horror as you discover who will be seated next to you: your vegan cousin.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with vegans — they leave more white and dark meat for the rest of us, bless their hearts. But some of them view converting everybody else as their life’s calling. It doesn’t always make for good table conversation.

And if your cousin’s the preachy type, you know you are in for one of many-self-righteous proclamations about the horrors of eating not just turkey, but butter, eggs, and anything else from an animal. If you thought the election was contentious, just wait until you sit next to someone who views food choices with religious zeal — on a holiday built around enjoying drumsticks.

If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with your vegan family members on the day known to many of them as “Turkey Holocaust.”

Usually this bequeathed family polemicist will begin a rant with the faux-open-question of “Did you know?” This question is designed to put you on the back foot. But if you feel like engaging instead of rolling your eyes and asking your uncle to pass his flask, here’s a tip:

Bring up the radical views of the animal liberation movement that is pushing for turkey-less Thanksgivings, ham-less Christmases and barbecue-less Fourths of July.

The movement puts forward the idea that we should end the moral distinction between animals and humans, a distinction that many in the animal rights movement love to label as “speciesism.” It may sound comical on its face, but leads to a world without zoos, aquariums and vital medical research to cure the scourge of cancer and AIDS. And these ideas have melded quite easily into the mainstream thinking of the animal rights movement.

There’s the well-known PETA, which is openly against everything from burgers to silk shirts. But even the outwardly moderate Humane Society of the United States, one of the largest animal rights organizations in the country, recently hosted Peter Singer as a keynote speaker at a conference. Singer, a Princeton professor, is best known for his book “Animal Liberation,” a sort of call to arms against the mainstream view of food.

Even pets wouldn’t be allowed in a future run by animal rights activists. PETA’s president called pet ownership an “absolutely abysmal situation” while the CEO of the Humane Society of the U.S. has said, “I don’t want to see another cat or dog born.”

Thanksgiving without turkey would be as strange as America without baseball and apple pie.

Thanksgiving should be about thanks — not guilt. Whatever dishes people choose to eat around the table, we should be grateful that we have that freedom. That’s something the whole family should be able to agree on.

Will Coggin is research director for the Center for Consumer Freedom.

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