By Greg Lawson, Vegetarian
Society of El Paso
"Happy Turkey Day" was the email my boss sent out a few days ago. I was
tempted to write back that I found her remark to be very offensive, that on
behalf of my two vegetarian coworkers I would like to draw her attention to
the fact that the name of the holiday is Thanksgiving and that on this day,
what I'm thankful for is that I'm not a bird eater.
Birds have always been an inspiration for humankind. Birds inspired us to
learn to fly. Would we have ever gone to the moon without birds? Would I
ever have been able to fly American Airlines to speak at animal rights
conferences without birds?
What? Ok, carbon footprint from airplanes, I know, I know. I should just write a book.
What? Trees? Ok, I know, I know. Blog, Kindle.
You young whippersnappers have some strange ideas about communication. Gol
I'm old school, and looking back at history.....
According to Rynn Berry, the historian for the North American Vegetarian
Society, the first Thanksgiving was not a peaceful sit-down between the
pilgrims and the Native Americans. It was more likely that the pilgrims
raided the storehouses of the so called 'Indians' and stole their caches of
beans and corn.
In her book, "Settling With The Indians," Dr. Karen Kupperman, a
historian at Cambridge, says that the early settlers were lacking in farming
skills and spent much of their time digging for gold. She says that the
Jamestown colonists even fed on corpses that they dug up from Native
Whatever happened to that tradition, I wonder?
Here's a little history....
In 1789, George Washington declared a national day of Thanksgiving, but it
didn't catch on. Thomas Jefferson said that the idea was silly.
In the middle of the 19th century, Sarah Hale, editor of a women's
magazine called "Godey's Ladies Book" and author of "Mary Had a Little Lamb"
wrote editorials and letters to all the state's governors trying to make a
national holiday of a day of thanks.
Perhaps in response to her advocacy, and also perhaps as a way of trying to unite the nation during the time we were divided, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving.
The bird didn't actually achieve it's status on our plates until after World
War II, when the poultry industry's aggressive marketing of large hybrid
birds made the turkey into a status symbol of wealth and abundance.
As you know, turkeys are factory farmed and fed growth hormones and have
been bred to be so large that their legs can barely carry them, resulting in
bone fractures. They suffer multiple injuries and diseases from concentrated
animal feeding operations. And the following fact is very
bothering....modern turkeys are too big to breed naturally, so turkeys are
artificially impregnated on what the industry calls a rape rack, The
industry doesn't even seem to care that they call it that.
And even though my boss knows I'm vegan, she doesn't have a clue how
offensive it is to me when she wrote 'Happy Turkey Day." Stop offending me
with your carnistic remarks.
Up 2 percent from 2010, this year 248 million turkeys were raised to be
slaughtered for this holiday. The ones that don't make it to a family's
table will become dog and cat food.
Keep your celebration of bird killing to yourself. Stop wishing me happiness on this day.
I can't be happy today.
But I am thankful I'm vegan.