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November 18, 2013

Organic Garden 'pays it forward' for vegan Thanksgiving

BEVERLY — What’s a Thanksgiving without the turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes? For some, it’s an all-natural, vegan meal at the Organic Garden Café in Beverly.

The café will be hosting its third annual pay-it-forward Thanksgiving dinner, asking customers to pay what they can for a meal. Those who want to give back can pay more than the suggested price of $18.95 so that any additional amount goes toward a meal for someone who can’t afford it.

“I love the idea of anybody being able to walk in the door and get this incredible meal, even if they don’t have any money,” said café owner Rawbert Reid, 49, of Arlington. “It’s a great day to reach out to the community and people in need.”

The meal includes a “turkey-free” loaf — a dehydrated specialty made with sunflower seeds, walnuts, celery, onion and carrot— in addition to cranberry relish, pecan mushroom gravy and a choice of two sides. Diners can order the meal anytime during Thanksgiving week to prepare at home, or they can eat in-house on Thanksgiving Day between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. There will also be a “community table” for those who want to connect with others or make new friends.

Reid said he got the idea for a pay-it-forward program after visiting an organic and vegetarian café in San Francisco in 2009 that had a “grateful bowl” on its menu. He was inspired to add a grateful bowl to the Organic Garden Café’s menu, allowing customers to pay what they can (from $1 up) for a bowl of quinoa/rice mix, kale, bean sprouts, teriyaki almonds, carrots and scallions with lemon tahini sauce. Soon after, he expanded that idea to the pay-it-forward system for Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

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