A Real Turkey Day
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM

Robert Grillo, Free From Harm
November 2014

Few people I know who serve or eat turkey have ever even seen one in person, much less given any consideration to the fact that they might actually have interests of their own and share our basic deires to live freely and avoid suffering and death.

Itís time to give back to these birds, after a lifetime of taking, by disseminating the facts about turkeys raised for their flesh while also telling the transformative stories of the lucky ones who were able to escape the grasp of exploitation.

turkey day
Roxy and Megan, the turkey hen.
Photo courtesy of Eden Farm Animal Sanctuary

The other day a writer friend of mine asked me for a quote for an article she was working on about Thanksgiving and the holiday season in general and how those of us who choose not to consume animal products navigate through all of this.

Most people around us see only caricatures of turkeys that perpetuate the self-gratifying myth we want to see and hear: that turkeys are as joyful as we are to become our holiday centerpieces. Few people I know who serve or eat turkey have ever even seen one in person, much less given any consideration to the fact that they might actually have interests of their own and share our basic deires to live freely and avoid suffering and death.

So how will I navigate through the Thanksgiving holiday with the inevitabe flood of turkey day jokes and disconnected chatter? Well, as many of you know, my connection to birds like turkeys runs deep. Iíve helped chickens fight for the lives from a variety of terminal illnesses brought on by their breeding or neglect, including gangrene infection, egg peritonitis (chronic reproductive infection), cancer and sudden death from heart failure. Iíve held dying birds in my arms that I cared for and loved so they would not be alone when they passed. So, No, I will not then sit at a ceremonial meal with a dead bird centerpiece and pretend that I am somehow grateful that this unlucky soul had to suffer and die in the name of our tradition.

Instead, Iíve turned Thanksgiving into a celebration of the living turkey that has existed for millenia prior to being first captured and trapped by Native Americans around 800 B.C. These first domesticators of wild turkeys didnít regard them as a food source; instead they captured, confined, raised and killed them for fashion, for their illustrious feathers.

Itís time to give back to these birds, after a lifetime of taking, by disseminating the facts about turkeys raised for their flesh while also telling the transformative stories of the lucky ones who were able to escape the grasp of exploitation. I know of no one that could seriously evaluate these facts and stories and then honestly conclude that this mass tragedy is worth any ounce of pleasure we might derive from it. I know that the truth is on our side and, enough people believe in truth, justice and decency.


I ask you to join me in a different kind of Thanksgiving celebration, one that recognizes the injustices and missteps of our ancestors (against Native Americans and animals), and, in their place, embraces a new vision of nonviolence and true grattitude that is never again at the expense of others.


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