Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Adopt A Turkey, Don't Eat One!
Tonight we find ourselves on the eve of American Thanksgiving and people all across the country are preparing themselves for big meals and family fun. However this holiday, almost more then any other, seems to be the most difficult for vegetarians and vegans. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, and when I first moved to the states it made me pretty happy to be able to celebrate it twice. Once in October for Canada, and once in November for America. I first went vegan on Thanksgiving Day, 2 years ago, and I thought it would be difficult, but it wasn’t. I had already been vegetarian for nearly six months by then and the switch was easy. I didn’t feel as thought last year was particularly difficult for me either, mentally or emotionally. I prepared a wealth of vegan foods and treats and ignored the things on the table that I didn’t want to see. This year however I feel a deep twinge of sadness. Thanksgiving is suppose to be a day of thanks, a day of peace, a time for us to sit and think, and reflect on our lives and on our year. It’s a time for us to appreciate what we have and give thanks for it. Yet everywhere I go this year I’m faced with the reality of what this holiday truly is. It’s a celebration of carnage, it’s a day of violence, and cruelty, and people everywhere turn a blind eye to it in the name of - or for the sake of - ‘tradition.’ Last year I wrote a post detailing how the Thanksgiving ‘traditions’ that we cling to today are the furthest thing from traditional, if you’re interested you can read that here - Thanksgiving: Reexamining Traditions - This year I find the myths and lies of Thanksgiving just a little harder to swallow, but mostly I just feel sad. I feel a deep, resonating sadness for the millions of Turkeys who’s lives are being extinguished in the name of thanks.
Roughly 46 million turkey’s are killed in the United States each year for Thanksgiving alone. That’s a stark, astonishing number. Imagine that as people. 46 million people is the entire population of Spain. 46 million people is more then the population of Canada! There are more Turkey’s being killed in the U.S. for this one day, then there are people in Canada. If that doesn’t make you feel a little bit sick, and help put things into perspective for you I don’t know what will. It’s almost incomprehensible to me, but the worst part of it is that these beings are treated horribly, and live miserable lives. Most of them grow up in factory farmed situations where they have no connection to their family unit. They’re taken away from their parents, stuffed into cages, with other birds, beaten and mutilated. Their beaks are trimmed, their toes are clipped off, and their snoods are removed. Over the decades that we’ve been breading these poor animals for food, we’ve engineered them to have such large breasts that many of them can not walk. They are even so top heavy that they suffocate under their own weight, or their lungs and other organs collapse. Due to the way that we’ve bred them, and because of their gargantuan size, turkeys can no longer fly, and they can no longer reproduce naturally on their own. All turkeys need to be artificially inseminated.
This month the animal advocacy group Mercy For Animals released two new undercover videos that were recorded at Butterball Plants. These videos capture workers beating turkeys, stomping on their heads, throwing them into crates, throwing them across rooms, kicking them, breaking their wings, snapping their necks, throwing them into machines, poking them with pitchforks and other tools. Unfortunately the problem is not just with Butterball, every year videos emerge from different poultry producers that reveal the same things. These are common practices in the poultry industry because unlike beef cattle and pigs poultry have no protected rights. It doesn’t matter if your turkey is a factory farmed turkey, a ‘free range’ turkey, or an organic turkey. There are no cruelty standards for poultry in the U.S. and the term ‘free-range’ is a meaningless one anyway because it isn’t regulated by any governing body. Anyone can say their animals are free-range. Organic is a term that’s regulated but it has nothing to do with how the animals are treated. It only related to what the turkey’s were fed, and ensures that those turkeys weren’t given any artificial hormones or antibiotics. It doesn’t protect the turkey’s from harm.
The saddest thing about this is that Turkey’s are loving, and gentle creatures. Turkey’s raised as pets are as loving as dogs. They even follow their human caretakers around. They like to cuddle, snuggle and be petted, stroked and scratched. They will climb right into your lap and fall asleep purring. They are intelligent and happy creatures, with as much desire to live as anyone else. Mother turkey’s are very protective of their young and will risk their own life to save their babies if they perceive a threat. A mother turkey will even attack a predator to ensure the safety of her young. Turkey’s are also family orientated, and often eat their meals together as a family. A brood typically holds together for 4-5 months and male siblings in a family maintain a social bond for life. Mother turkeys teach their young babies crucial skills about what to eat, the layout of their homeland, how to avoid predators, and a variety of important social skills.
Turkeys are beautiful creatures that deserve our love, our respect, our compassion and our protection. Last year my husband and I took part in Farm Sanctuary’s “Adopt a Turkey: Don’t Eat One” program and it brought me so much joy. This year we once again adopted a turkey, a male named Gabel - as in Clarke Gabel. I encourage everyone to choose compassion over killing this year and adopt a turkey instead of eating one! There are so many wonderful vegan foods, so many great pre-packaged holiday treats, or things you can make yourself that there really isn’t any need, and you won’t miss it. Instead you’ll feel the inner peace and happiness of knowing you did something good not only for yourself but for another.
Adopt a Turkey don’t eat one! And have a lovely cruelty-free Thanksgiving this year.
For more information check out these pages
Farm Sanctuary - Adopt a Turkey!
Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary
Holiday Feasting Vegan Style
All Images found through Google Images