Though the symbol of Thanksgiving is the turkey and everyone goes around greeting one another with a hearty “gobble, gobble,” it might be time to rethink our favorite Thanksgiving Day protein. Whether you need a reason or not, here are several to help you decide on giving turkeys something every creature on this beautiful planet is thankful for – life.
Turkeys are devoted to their brood. Mother hens of the overprotective parents of the bird world, and their poults – their babies – learn everything from them. Did you know that turkey hens talk to their eggs? That they form specialized calls unique to their family to communicate when separated? When poults are hatched on commercial farms in incubators, they never know what it is like to have a mother, and they live their short lives in confusion.
Remember that episode of South Park with Timmy and Gobbles? Turkeys are very friendly, and not just with other feathered kin. These amicable birds will form bonds with anyone and anything that shows them affection. Cats, dogs, goats, rabbits, and people… they love togetherness.
When turkeys are rescued from slaughterhouses and neglect, they are known to form more than just friendships with their saviors, they think of these people as lifelong partners.
Not only do turkeys love forming relationships, they love getting petted. A happy turkey will plop onto your lap, nudge you with its head, and then rest blissfully in your arms for hours as you stroke their feathers. Once you have befriended a turkey, you will have a feathered shadow that follows you around as poults would their mother.
4. Nature’s Entertainers
When turkeys get reunited with someone they have been separated from, they will dance and flap their wings. Turkeys have also been called “musical.” Several animal sanctuaries found that when presented with music, turkeys will sing along with you or break into their own gobbling solo. Yes, much like a hound dog will howl in tune with a harmonica. Here is an amazing video of a singing turkey:
Heartwarming, right? Now get ready for the tear-jerkers.
Did you know that 46 million turkeys are massacred annually for Thanksgiving? How about that they are doused with an artificially large amount of growth hormones from the time they are born? An average turkey should only weight around 15 pounds, but turkeys nowadays get as large as 28 pounds at 18 weeks of age. That’s horrible!
In fact, it is so horrible that commercially raised turkeys can’t even reproduce normally. Turkeys are artificially inseminated at “breeding facilities.” People are hired to “milk” the males then forcibly squeeze an upside down hen to insert a straw-like contraption inside to impregnate her. Since when has it become acceptable to violate emotionally intelligent beings in such a way for own our pleasure? This is rape.
Know how else these birds suffer from being so grossly overweight? They suffer from heart attacks because their hearts cannot support their size. Sometimes they break their own legs.
Moreover, because of the crowded conditions of these farms, the birds become highly aggressive. This alone is not natural for turkeys. Unless action is taken, these frightened birds will lash out at one and kill one another. So do you know what the facility does? The turkeys get their beaks and toes cut off without anesthetic.
The sensory receptors in a turkey’s beak are much like human fingertips. Now imagine getting your hands shaved or sawed off. Snoods, the red, dangling flesh, are also removed. The brutality leaves the turkeys so devastated many immediately die from shock.
Should they not die from this, at the slaughterhouse, they are shuttled down a conveyor belt that may – or may not – kill them before getting dropped into a vat of boiling water. In 2013 an article was posted in the Washington Post about the USDA finalizing the preparations for speeding up these conveyor belts.
The problem is that, up to that point, over 1 million turkeys and chickens were “accidentally” being boiled alive, because the high-speed belts couldn’t slice the birds’ necks fast enough. Or the people shackling them down couldn’t grab ahold of them fast enough.
7. It is not just the birds
There are people in these factories undergoing the same amount of torture the birds do. The working conditions in slaughterhouses are dismal. Human rights are just as violated as animal rights are. Sometimes, these workers are forced to stand for hours, treated like robots, and not even allowed bathroom breaks.
But someone has to do this work, right? No, they don’t. No one and nothing with a beating heart should be subjected to such cruelty.
8. Other options
Now, I am not saying you need to adopt vegetarianism for the rest of your life, but there are other ways to eat heartily on Thanksgiving without propagating this cycle of torture for factory workers and turkeys.
There are meat-free options out there that are more satisfying and more healthy. Moreover, by giving up turkey you are promoting compassion. You are showing your children, friends, and other family members that we can be the change for a more positive world.
Show true thankfulness this year by giving the gift of life to the amazing and beautiful creatures known as turkeys.