Thankful for Compassion

Every year more than 37 million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving.  As I sit here with about 37 million tabs open on the information about the lives of turkeys, I am struggling with how to tell you.

I know most people don't want to know where their food comes from.  Most people have never considered what it takes to put a turkey on their plate.  I know there are still more that will never make the connection between being compassionate and their absolute power to choose life.

Turkeys are just one of many animals that are treated as commodities.  Especially at Thanksgiving.  Turkeys that have contracted bird flu are often smothered to death with foam so as not to spread the virus farther (which is spread through feces in less than stellar living conditions).  They are routinely mutilated on their beaks and feet with no anesthesia to prevent constant pecking to other birds because of cramped housing.  Each bird is manufactured to grow 3 times larger than wild birds and live 5 months compared to 12 years for a wild bird.  Once these birds can no longer stand on their enormous weight, they are killed via "controlled atmosphere stunning" or "electrical water bath stunning".  Both of these methods are accepted within the industry as humane.

PETA describes these methods in detail in this link.  Please be warned that the video is graphic and can be disturbing.
The National Turkey Federation and the American Meat Institute has funded and produced this video to describe the methods of killing.  Please note that the controlled atmosphere killing is shown, but not the electrical water bath stunning.  I'm going to guess that they absolutely don't want you to see that based I what I saw from the PETA video.  I also doubt that this video is representative of what every factory farm looks like based on the other under-cover footage I've seen of factory farm animal abuse.

Do your own research. Decide for yourself.


In doing a little searching on Thanksgiving's origins I came across a story of Ben Franklin and how he would have rather had the Turkey as the national bird, instead of the Bald Eagle....That's not entirely true, but it provokes a thought.  What if the bird that so proudly represents your country was a turkey?  How would you feel about eating it then?!


Do you know why you eat a turkey on Thanksgiving?  I'm guessing your answer is "Because I always have".  Traditions.  I get it.  There is something comforting about doing things you are familiar with and have done time and time again.  A tradition can give families something to come together for.  A tradition is a way for us to celebrate.

But don't forget that you can make your own traditions.  The history of mass killings of turkeys is actually a relatively new one.  Pretty much thanks to one lady.  Take a minute to watch this cutesy short story of some of the "why".

Knowing that the first Thanksgiving was to celebrate a successful harvest, ask yourself what you are celebrating.  What are you truly thankful for?  If we are celebrating being thankful for all our wonderful blessings in life, why do we do so with justifying our traditions of gluttony and violence?

Make the choice to start your own traditions.  You can be a voice for true love.


In up state New York, Farm Sanctuary holds an annual Celebration with the Turkeys.  This event makes the connection real for people.

“The holidays are times when families come together,” Gene Baur, the president of Farm Sanctuary, told me. “And Thanksgiving is a continuation of that tradition. But for people who see turkeys as friends rather than food, going to one of these events and seeing the body of a dead bird in the middle of the table is difficult. So we have created something different.” He added: “I really enjoy seeing living animals rather than dead ones on the dinner table.”

"For the last 25 years, the U.S. president has “officially” “pardoned” a select bird or two in a publicity stunt for poultry producers. These turkeys have food-related names: Mac and Cheese, Popcorn and Caramel; at Farm Sanctuary, they are Christina, Jackie, Robin, Pamela, Pepper, or Turpentine, who I met several years ago and who has since passed peacefully.
The pardon “speaks to the conflict between our human desire to act with compassion, and the violence of a holiday tradition centered on a carcass of a bird lying in the center of the dinner table,” Baur has said."


Consider sponsoring a turkey instead of killing one.  I'm sure there are many groups out there, but I am familiar with Farm Sanctuary and Gentle Barn.  Both are wonderful groups that do so much for animals.  Our family spent time at Gentle Barn this past summer in California and it was a wonderful experience!

Meet Jackie!  Our friend for Thanksgiving this year.

Try a few new recipes in your feast this year.  Our family feast is full of the traditional foods we all love sans the slaughter.  There are a plethora of recipes and ideas out there to get you prepared for the big day.

My own personal spread:

Vegan roasts have come a long way, even in the three short years I've been vegan.  The three main brands that come to mind for me are Tofurky, Gardein, and Field Roast.  This article from PETA, gives the 411 on the many options available.

Pinterest can also be your friend when searching for new things.  Check out this search for an overwhelming amount of ideas!

And these ideas from Trader Joe's just sound fun.  Especially the dessert!  This may or may not go on my list for any other day of the week.  Plus the fat pants.  Ps.  Their soy vanilla ice cream is amazeballs.

Lastly, The Farm Animal Rights Group has put together this simple 4-step guide on how you can follow for a more compassionate celebration.

Take the focus off the food.  Invite your kids into the celebration of Thanksgiving.  Show them the video above on how things got started.  Read some stories of thanks.  Two good ones to start with are Silly Tilly's Thanksgiving Dinner and A Turkey For Thanksgiving.  These are great ways to talk to your kiddos about compassion and why we are celebrating.

There are absolutely so many things to be thankful for in our lives today.  Enjoy those around you.  Come together.  Choose love.  Happy Thanksgiving!


How bird flu affects the industry:
Ben Franklin's opinion on the turkey:
Factory farming and turkeys:

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