This year, approximately 46 million turkeys have been slaughtered for the ritualized holiday of "Thanksgiving". Since I was thirteen, I've hated this holiday with a passion. It struck me as strange to celebrate gratitude and compassion around the corpse of a once-living bird. And seeing my own family members dig into her corpse felt so wrong.
I cannot express how happy I was when my dad stopped eating meat completely and we started to celebrate Thanksliving. No living beings knowingly harmed in the creation of our family holiday meal!
Turkeys are not stupid. They are social animals who form bonds with friends, get angry with enemies and experience a whole range of avian emotions. They feel pain. They suffer. They feel joy. They have their own language - trills and coos that convey meanings and messages. Mostly, I remain ignorant of their true meanings, but I can trill a happy greeting decently and elicit a response from both wild and domestic turkeys. I have no right to take their lives away from them - it is theirs. I don't need them to survive, and I certainly do not need to eat them to celebrate thanks.
And domestic turkeys, oh how they suffer. They are large, too large to fly, too big to breed naturally. Artificial insemination is dirty, disgusting, stressful and painful. Their lives are fraught with physical and emotional suffering. And their deaths. It is fully of agony. Each bird fights until his last breath to live. Struggles with her cries to survive.
Here's one of the turkey ladies at the sanctuary. She was liberated from a farm raising her and her sisters for Thanksgiving. She turns five this year.