Farm Sanctuary’s Celebration for the Turkeys in Acton, CA was an amazing event. Seeing so many dedicated animal activists all in one room was truly humbling and inspiring. The turkeys were the guests of honor, and were led to a feast of fresh pumpkin and cranberries prepared just for them. It was beautiful to see the animals I have come to love so deeply being celebrated by hundreds of people.
Turkeys are fascinating creatures. Despite myths to the contrary, they are extremely intelligent and social animals with a keen awareness of their surroundings. The long standing idea that turkeys are stupid animals sprouted from observed actions of turkeys that are bred for meat. These birds are often inbred to have white skin and feathers, achieving what is considered the “ideal” color for turkey meat, and bred to grow massive in a short period of time, the majority of the fat being grown on the breast to produce the most popular kind of meat. This causes them to have difficulty walking and running, and it makes them unable to fly. (Which turkeys absolutely can do in the wild- up to 55 mph when they aren’t too heavy to lift themselves off the ground.) They are also force fed, drugged and mutilated in order to keep them from attacking each other out of distress in confinement. These are not the ideal conditions to base intellectual judgement on. People who have spent time getting to know the birds will tell you that turkeys are inquisitive and affectionate creatures who have a better understanding of their environments than most give them credit for.
I personally believe that the level of intelligence of an animal should have no bearing on the decision to eat them or not. The impact of the meat industry on the environment, our collective health and our economy should be enough of a reason to cease eating animals altogether, but I am not in the majority with this way of thinking, so I will give you a few more reasons to leave turkey off your plate this season-
- Although it has become branded as “lean”, most turkey meat is extremely fatty, one ground turkey patty containing 244 mg of cholesterol, half of the calories coming from fat.
- Factory farming causes turkeys to live in filthy conditions for the entirety of their short lives. Turkey meat is a breeding ground for killer bacteria and disease. The Center for Science in the Public Interest found that 28 percent of fresh turkeys were contaminated with bacteria, primarily with campylobacter, for which the USDA does not even require testing.
- Former President Bill Clinton was quoted as stating that the limit on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ability to protect the public from tainted animal products is “one of the biggest loopholes out there.”
Considering that the US is the only country in the western world that hands over the power to recall contaminated animal products to corporations, I would say that this statement is right on the money.
I attended this event in protest of the violent ideologies that surround this national holiday. I have always disliked everything Thanksgiving represented, the genocide of America’s native people, the ignorance and arrogance of humanity, the tendency for society to brainwash themselves to believe an altered version of history, and the obsessive consumption of flesh disguised as tradition. This holiday has created an industry that breeds, tortures and slaughters 45 million turkeys for just ONE meal every year.
Just because this is what we’ve done up until now, doesn’t mean it’s what we must continue to do.
In 1970, only 105 million turkeys were raised for meat in the United States. Today, roughly 248 million turkeys are raised and slaughtered for meat in the US every year. That has more than doubled in the last forty years. These numbers are not sustainable, and if they continue to grow as quickly as they have in the past, we will start to see more and more food safety issues with our country’s poultry, as these industries are already well known for sacrificing safety and public health so that they can cut costs and turn a higher profit.
The evening concluded with an eye opening lecture from one of my personal heroes, Dr. Melanie Joy Ph.D. , Ed.M., Harvard educated psychologist and author of ‘Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism’ .
Melanie Joy travels all over the world spreading awareness about animal agriculture and the ways that people learn to cope with eating animals despite the inherent violence involved in the animal product industries. She encourages compassion and strategic advocacy and her ideas have revolutionized the way that many animal activists communicate with the public.
To watch her hour long lecture, “An Introduction to Carnism”, just click over to our ‘Videos‘ page.
Please, do your part for the turkeys by opting out of supporting one of the meat industry’s biggest days of the year. Don’t pay someone else to kill for you, don’t hide the taste of tortured flesh under seasoning and gravy. Cruelty free holidays are easier to achieve than ever, with a plethora of delicious animal free products to make your family feast better than last year’s.
We can’t change the past. America’s history is in many ways, very shameful and horrific. All that we can do is learn from our collective mistakes and make a conscious effort to evolve as a species and avoid them in the future. Let’s start a new tradition this year; one of compassion and understanding. One that boldly proclaims that we are ashamed of our selfish and cruel past and that we are ready to turn over a new leaf to a cruelty free future. Give others a reason to be thankful for you.
For more information on how to participate in Farm Sanctuary’s events, or how to sponsor one of their rescue turkey ambassadors this year, click here.