By Paul Graham,
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming
- Helen Keller
If I were a turkey, I would want people to know that I am so much more than a cooked bird centerpiece on their table during the holiday season. We are very social creatures, and we enjoy the company of others…animals and human animals alike. We enjoy having our feathers stroked and have varied personalities like dogs and cats. We can remember you and if we like you we will run towards you when we see you. We are naturally inquisitive.
Male turkeys are called “Toms” and are larger than the females, called “Hens.” I would want you to know that in the wild we are pretty impressive. We are in so much better shape than the turkeys on the factory farms. We can fly at speeds up to fifty-five miles and hour and run at speeds up to twenty-five miles an hour. Try and catch us if you can. Wild Turkey indeed.
Naturally, we live up to ten years but enslaved in the factory farm system we will be killed when we are only five months old.
If I were a turkey, I would be one of about 300 million turkeys who are slaughtered every year for our flesh. Almost all of us will live on factory farms with no federal regulation to protect us. One hundred percent of commercially-raised turkeys in the United States are produced using artificial insemination. Toms are restrained and masturbated for semen collection and the Hens are restrained and inseminated. Raised on factory farms we will be hatched in an incubator and never see our mothers; normally we would stay with our mothers for about five months. That is only how long we will live. After only a few weeks old we are moved into dirty buildings with tens of thousands of other turkeys and will spend the rest of our short lives there. This is not much of a life.
If I were a turkey, I would have all kinds of things done to me to make sure I didn’t fight with the other turkeys in these horrible conditions. They will cut off toes and beaks and the snoods under the chins of the males. The pain from that is blinding…we are never given anything to help the pain. Every turkey around me is hurting. Some of the turkeys just stop eating because all of the stress and just die….millions each year. For those of us that live they give us drugs to go along with our manipulated breeding to grow as fast as possible. Bigger and faster growing means more profits for the farms. But too big, too fast is not good. We are too big to move, let along fly. Too big for our hearts to even handle, and many will die convulsing in heart attacks.
If I were a turkey, I would see the workers come in and collect those turkeys that were big enough to take away. They usually grab the other turkeys by their legs and throw them into the crates. You can hear the bones breaking sometimes. Thousands of turkeys can be crammed into a large truck to be taken somewhere else without food or water and unfortunately some don’t survive the trip. Maybe they are the lucky ones because the destination is going to be the slaughterhouse where we are hung upside down by our weakened legs. We are moved through an electric-charged stunning tank which is only to keep us still but not kill us. We sometimes move enough to avoid that and feel the next part completely when our throats are cut. Sometimes the cut doesn’t hit right and we go into the scalding tanks to remove our feathers still alive and conscious.
If I were a turkey, I would long to be able to take my chances in the wild or to live out my life on a sanctuary somewhere. Perhaps instead of eating me for their holiday tradition, people can adopt me and others like me and support our care in the sanctuary instead of paying to have me slaughtered to be eaten. I think some traditions need to end…and selfishly this is one of them. I think humans take way too much for granted and I am not really sure how thankful they are for their lives anyway. I know that they don’t need a turkey to give thanks. I hear there are some great food alternatives out there that are 100% cruelty-free. It is time to start a new and compassionate tradition that both humans and animals will truly be thankful for. Let’s make a change starting this year…our necks are literally on the line.
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog, Eating Vegan in Vegas which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas.
Paul’s e-book, Eating Vegan in Vegas: If It Can Happen Here, It Can Happen Anywhere is now available at www.sullivanstpress.com.