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STAFF PHOTO/ROBERT BAKER Guests at Saturday’s ThanksLiving meal are served up a vegetarian’s delight.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:11:02 12:06:31

TIMES-SHAMROCK PHOTOS/JAKE DANNA STEVENS Chickens and turkeys enjoy a ThanksLiving dinner during Indraloka’s ThanksLiving for the birds in Falls Township on Saturday, Nov. 2.

FALLS TWP. - Mark Collier stopped eating meat five years ago cold turkey, after his beloved dog died from cancer.

Grief hit the Berwick resident hard.

“I couldn’t understand why I would be so upset over one animal, but eat another,” Collier said.

He became a vegan and an ardent supporter of the private, nonprofit Indraloka Animal Sanctuary rescue for farm animals.

On Saturday, Collier and his wife, Amanda, were among a sold-out crowd of 200 people who attended the sanctuary’s seventh annual “ThanksLiving” event.

With a tongue-in-beak billing as an event “for the birds,” ThanksLiving turns the table on traditional Thanksgiving feasts centered on turkey dinners.

ThanksLiving celebrates gratitude and compassion while honoring the turkey residents and other animals at the 100-acre sanctuary in Falls Twp.

The event featured a parade of turkeys waddling from a barn to a fully decorated table with their own feast of spinach, lettuce, pumpkin puree, diced peppers and carrots, and sunflower seeds.

“ThanksLiving is a great way to kick off the holiday season, with a focus on fun, celebration, love and compassion for all life,” Indraloka founder Indra Lahiri said.

The $74.99-per-plate dinner for (human) attendants included a vegan buffet of harvest pumpkin curry with rice, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, cranberry maple roasted seitan turkey with stuffing and gravy, and Thai chickpea and kale salad.

Celebrity co-hosts included Dotsie Bausch, Olympic silver medalist cyclist in the 2012 London Games who was named by VegNews in 2019 as one of the top 20 most influential vegans in the world; Gianna Simone, an American actress, model, producer and creator of the Gianna Simone Foundation for rescue and support to abused and neglected people and animals; Paola Giangiacomo, a TV and radio host, media personality and fitness enthusiast; Isa Leshko, an artist and writer who examines themes relating to animal rights, aging and mortality; and Mark Hiller, WBRE “Eyewitness News” anchor.

Indraloka, which means “heaven for the gods” in Sanskrit, advocates for kind and compassionate lifestyles that protect animals, the Earth and human health. The sanctuary aims to inform, inspire and empower the community, especially children, on ways to better care for people and the environment, while helping animals in need.

“People are thinking differently now. People are seeing that farm animals need rescue as much as dogs and cats,” Lahiri said.

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Robert Baker also contributed to this story.