Hard-won desserts no doubt taste better for the effort. And Missoula’s Kate Newhart, 13, says her prize—a Tofurky feast—for winning a national essay contest sponsored by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), “honestly, tasted pretty good.”

It was the young vegetarian’s first Thanksgiving without a real turkey, though the imitative efforts of the Turtle Island Foods’ company result in a striking simulacrum of the traditional dinner with all the trimmings. What PETA calls the “amazingly turkey-like soy-based roast,” flavored and textured to simulate the genuine bird, came with fake giblet gravy, wild rice stuffing, dumplings and fake jerky “wishsticks.” Since the rest of the family elected to maintain family tradition with a conventional turkey, Newhart got to break the wishsticks herself—“They tasted so good!”—and take leftovers to school on Monday.

Before the feast began, Tim, her dad, proudly lined up the Tofurky and the turkey side-by-side for a portrait to share with grandma. And though everyone in the family tried a bite or two of Tofurky, Jack the dog didn’t get to share in the novelty: “We didn’t want to give him a tummy ache,” Tim says.

PETA liked Newhart’s essay, a “heartfelt plea to friends and family to pass on eating turkey,” for its description of the trials and tribulations that 45 million U.S. commercially raised and slaughtered holiday turkeys face. The essay further asked Kate’s friends and family to put themselves in the doomed turkeys’ shoes: “You get to hang by your feet, and if your head misses the electrified stunning tank, you are still conscious when they slit your throat! And if the knife doesn’t do it properly, you can be scalded to death from the hot water tank that removes your feathers.”

Kate’s friends and family, apparently, decided molded soy for Thanksgiving was a fate worse than that, and while we appreciate Kate’s sentiment and conviction, we’re pretty sure, had we been invited to the Newhart household for dinner, that we would have given thanks to pull up our chairs to the turkey table too.

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