Thanksgiving has always been a bittersweet holiday for me. I enjoy the idea of taking a respite from the frenetic pace of life and simply coming together as family or community, celebrating together and giving thanks for what we have. These occasions remind us of the important bonds in our lives, and it is too easy in the tumult of daily life to forget those ties.
On the other hand, there is no American holiday more associated with the use of an animal than Thanksgiving. In the United States, we consume 45 million turkeys on this holiday alone, and the increasingly distressing part of the equation for me is that the vast majority of these turkeys are raised in intensive confinement on factory farms. More so, the USDA excludes turkeys and all other birds slaughtered for human consumption in the United States from legal protections under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act—though a landmark court case filed by The HSUS could change that. The abuses these birds suffer should not be tolerated by our society.
Beyond the confinement and lack of oversight, we’ve morphed these poor creatures through selective breeding into meat-producing machines. The domesticated turkeys raised now on factory farms bear scant resemblance to the wild turkeys inhabiting our forests. The wild birds are alert, fast-flying, and roost in trees. The domesticated turkeys are grossly obese, they cannot run or fly, and they cannot even reproduce on their own. Yet for all of our redesigns of their bodies, we have not been able to take away their ability to suffer.
On Thanksgiving, we should not forget their circumstance, however convenient it may be to do so. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to choose a kinder approach in our consumer choices, and to renew our commitment to mitigating our impact on the lives of other creatures.
In a larger sense, I do want to thank you—the readers of this blog—for taking the time to read my entries. I enjoy writing the blog, and most of all, I enjoy your feedback and your support. We are in this fight for animals together, and it’s nice to know we are not alone. The progress we are making is astounding, and that should encourage each of you.