“As somebody who was always fairly compassionate and empathetic; has a big, soft heart; and cries at every animal movie, it just made no sense that I ate meat,” filmmaker Kevin Smith reflected during a recent visit with the rescued residents of Farm Sanctuary’s Southern California Shelter. “At the end of the day, of course, I love animals and I don’t want to eat animals. With distance from the eating machine and propaganda, I was able to see that there’s a different, healthier way to live.”

Earlier this year, following a severe heart attack that left him looking to make a healthful life change, Smith – with the encouragement of his animal-activist daughter, actress Harley Quinn Smith – went vegan. Since making the switch to plant-based eating, he’s “the healthiest he’s ever been,” Harley Quinn told Page Six.

Harley Quinn, a passionate vegan and vocal Farm Sanctuary supporter, was excited to help introduce her father to her animal friends at Farm Sanctuary last month.

During their visit, the father-daughter duo bonded with rescued farm animals and reflected on the fact that no turkeys will be harmed for their upcoming family Thanksgiving. Instead, the family is taking part in Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt a Turkey Project, through which animal lovers can sponsor a rescued turkey rather than eating a turkey at Thanksgiving.

This’ll be the first year that we’re breaking the chain with bad tradition and nobody’s going to be eating any bird.

Kevin Smith

While turkeys don’t often receive recognition for their intelligence, their friendliness, or their vibrant personalities, these birds are actually very curious, thoughtful, and loving when they’re treated with the kindness and care they deserve. In fact, they have much in common with the companion animals that most of us know better (they even purr like cats when they’re feeling relaxed and content!).

“They’re just like our dachshund, Shecky,” Kevin observed during his visit with the rescued turkeys of Farm Sanctuary. “People can pet them. Who knew you could pet a turkey? They’re just like any domesticated animal. Just like when people pet a dog or a cat, there’s something really soothing about it.”

“Turkeys are such kind, beautiful, friendly, sweet, and gentle creatures. … Farm animals are so similar to dogs and cats and all the animals humans have claimed as valuable, allow to live in their homes, and see as worth living,” added Harley Quinn.

While Harley Quinn went vegan in 2016 and other family members, including her mother, are vegetarian, this will be the family’s first 100 percent vegan Thanksgiving – and it’s clear that they can’t wait to celebrate.

“This’ll be the first year that we’re breaking the chain with bad tradition and nobody’s going to be eating any bird,” Kevin told Farm Sanctuary. “This year’s Thanksgiving will reshape the conversation going forward for every Smith Thanksgiving that’ll ever happen after it. The fact that anybody can take small steps toward progress — in this case, veganism — is to be celebrated.”

“I think our family has always been extremely progressive in our way of thinking and we’ve always abandoned those traditions that may be a bit outdated,” Harley Quinn added. “I feel like we’ve always been willing to progress with everything that comes and adapt to different times. Our family has clearly done that with our eating habits. In a changing world, we have to change with it, and not give up our beliefs or what we love. I think we adapt to new traditions by including aspects we love, like gathering around our families and eating delicious food.”

The fact that anybody can take small steps toward progress — in this case, veganism — is to be celebrated.

Kevin Smith

Last year, Kevin was a willing, if skeptical, participant when Harley Quinn challenged him to join her for a plant-based meal through Farm Sanctuary’s Compassionate Meals Program. Father and daughter had a memorable discussion about compassion, tradition, and their shared love of animals at the popular L.A. vegan comfort-food spot Doomie’s Home Cookin’.

While initially dubious about vegan food, he was enthusiastic about Doomie’s dishes, such as a jackfruit pulled-“pork” sandwich that he declared “100 percent convincing.” Since then, he’s added to his list of favorite vegan restaurants, in particular becoming an avowed fan of plant-based chain Veggie Grill.

“I’ve been now a vegan over 6 months; honestly, I swear to you, there’s nothing I miss,” Kevin said as he and Harley Quinn petted a pair of rescued turkeys at Farm Sanctuary.

Want to join the Smith family in honoring turkeys rather than eating them this Thanksgiving? For just $35, you can sponsor a rescued turkey who lives at Farm Sanctuary through the Adopt a Turkey Project – or sponsor the whole flock and have adoption certificates sent to family and friends for $150! Each sponsorship includes a special Adopt a Turkey certificate with a color photo of and fun details about your new friend; a one-year subscription to Sanctuary, Farm Sanctuary’s biannual print magazine; and our deepest thanks for contributing funds for the care of the rescued animals at our sanctuaries, and our efforts to educate and advocate for turkeys and other farm animals.