Some of you who know me may be surprised to learn that even though I’ve been vegan for 6 years, I still have a turkey on my table. Every year, without fail. Some people may find it weird but it’s a tradition that runs deep in my family and we’re sticking to it!
Last year his name was Kristoff. The year before that her name was Christina. And before that there was Cecelia and Turpentine.
They are all rescued turkeys that live happy carefree lives at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY. I have adoption certificates with their photos and they have become the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving celebration. I’ve had the opportunity to meet them and got to play with them in a flock with all of their friends when I visited Farm Sanctuary. They nibbled grass right out of my hand and were happy to share their home with guests. Of course, these turkeys are the very lucky exceptions.
More than 45 Million turkeys will be killed and served on a platter for Thanksgiving alone. Another 22 Million for Christmas. And those are just 2 days out of the year. Most turkeys raised in this country (300 Million each year) live for only a few months until they are slaughtered for human consumption. There are SO many people that would never touch veal or lamb because they can’t bear the thought of eating a baby animal. But did you know that the turkey on your table was only 4-5 months old? Chickens are similar, living only 6 weeks. Just think for a moment what must have been done to make an animal grow to full size in that short time – 6 weeks! Hormones much? Kittens and puppies aren’t even weaned from their mothers at that age. Male chicks born into the egg industry hold the record though. They won’t even make it to sunset on the day they are born. Since male chicks can’t lay eggs and their flesh isn’t considered suitable for consumption, they’re just disposed of that same day. Some people argue they’re the lucky ones because they don’t have to endure the horrors of factory farming that the rest of them do.
The purpose of this post is not to make you feel guilty for enjoying turkey on Thanksgiving. I did for more than 30 years of my life. I get it and I can’t take it back. BUT I am not a prisoner to the past. When I stopped to think about my own personal values (love for animals, dislike for killing anyone), and faced the reality of where my food was coming from, I opened my eyes to a very uncomfortable truth. I could no longer carry on with that tradition. For that’s what is really is, a tradition. A very twisted one! Thanksgiving is supposed to be about gratitude and it started as a celebration of abundant harvest. In my family we have stopped providing abundance to Butterball and Purdue Inc, and instead we celebrate togetherness and still give thanks for an abundance of food. We live in a country where there are multiple grocery stores within easy driving distance, and we have an incredible amount of choice when it comes to food. Our table is chock full of delicious health promoting food and we are thankful for more quality time with each other as a result. Was it weird the first few years? Sure was! But we quickly remembered that our favorite part of Thanksgiving was always the delicious side dishes anyway!
I’m not saying you should take turkeys out of Thanksgiving, but perhaps some of you would consider a new tradition – having an adopted turkey on your table instead! Even if you can’t visit Farm Sanctuary or another sanctuary for rescued farm animals, you can still help improve the lives of animals by participating with their Adopt a Turkey Project or simply by sharing this post with your friends and family to help explain why you’re rethinking Thanksgiving.