STATEN ISLAND — While the culled turkeys sit in deep freeze awaiting results of tests to see if they're safe to eat, animal activists are planning their own meat-free dinner in the slain birds' honor.
GooseWatch NYC will host a pre-Thanksgiving vegan lunch on Saturday to pay homage to the turkeys lost to the controversial U.S. Department of Agriculture's cull of a flock on the grounds of Staten Island's South Beach Psychiatric Center.
"Everybody was upset about this," said David Karopkin, founder of GooseWatch.
"My whole hope is to have this event with people in the local community and also with people in the city's animal advocate community. It would be a good opportunity to get to know each other a little better."
The dinner will be open to the public and have traditional Thanksgiving food dishes — though without animal-derived products, Karopkin said.
It will be prepared by Staten Island vegan chef Katie Anne, and Karopkin said he's still working on finding a space large enough to accommodate all who attend.
Since August, the USDA has sent many of the nearly 80 turkeys that had been living on the grounds of the South Beach Psychiatric Center to the slaughterhouse.
The flock was originally slated for slaughter after staff at the psychiatric center complained about their aggressiveness, the unsanitary conditions caused by their droppings and traffic issues caused by birds crossing roads.
Residents and activists rallied to save the turkeys, and recently PETA joined in the fight to save the birds.
While the USDA plans to give the culled meat to food pantries if it is deemed safe to eat, Karopkin said it was an attempt to spin the story, and wondered who would want to eat a Staten Island turkey?
"They've been eating the ground, there's a certain amount of pests and lead that can be there," he said.
"I'd like to find one person who is interested in eating these turkeys."