Every year the president of the United States pardons a turkey or two, but what about the other 46 million turkeys who will be brutally slaughtered and picked apart limb by limb on dinner tables across the country? Are they any less deserving of being pardoned — of living out their natural lives?
For a holiday steeped in the tradition of giving thanks for an abundant harvest, it’s pretty hypocritical to give thanks and promote love and compassion while surrounding the carcass of a dead bird. The tradition of consuming a dead animal is far from aligned with this holiday’s life-affirming message.
Turkeys are very beautiful birds known for their resourcefulness, agility and social nature. They spend their days building nests, foraging for food, and caring for their young. And just like dogs and cats with whom we share our homes, turkeys also enjoy the companionship of others and create strong social bonds that last a lifetime.
Unfortunately, most Americans only encounter turkeys in their grocer’s freezer, and have never interacted with a living, breathing turkey. And most folks don’t even know the process of how those turkeys (or other farmed animals) actually end up on their plates. Although the animal ag industry would like the public to imagine happy animals frolicking in sunny, green pastures and voluntarily walking into slaughterhouses, these images are all marketing ploys to disguise the inherent cruelty that comes with farming animals, and of course to increase profit margins.
The natural lifespan of a turkey is around 10 years, but in the food industry, they are slaughtered at just 5-6 months old. Turkeys raised for human consumption spend their entire lives confined to tiny wire cages or housed in large cramped sheds with no federal legal protection against cruelty or neglect. They are genetically modified to grow at unnatural and unhealthy weights, they are drugged, they have their toes and beaks cut off without anesthesia or pain medication, and they are brutally slaughtered, with some being boiled alive.
So this Thanksgiving, we ask everyone to start a new tradition, a tradition borne out of love and compassion for all life. When you leave the turkey off your plate, you are making a statement (and a commitment) that you not only care about the individual life of all sentient beings, you are also saying that you care about your own health and the health of the planet…and that is something everyone can be thankful for.
For more information on hosting a Gentle Thanksgiving, please visit CompassionateHolidays.com. There you’ll find all you need to start new traditions…from delicious vegan recipes to advice on speaking with friends and family about making compassionate choices to finding local events to join. Happy Compassionate Eating!