Turkey Pardons (reprised)

David Cassuto

As I sat down to type some Thanksgiving thoughts, I found myself returning to what I wrote a couple of years ago, back when this blog was first beginning.  I’m still saddened and bewildered by the idea of pardoning turkeys.  And, since not many people read the blog back then, I offer those now two-year old thoughts back up again for your consideration.

Much has been said about the ritual of Thanksgiving and its accompanying slaughter of hundreds of millions of defenseless birds, most of who lived short lives of unrelenting and abject misery. I have little to add to what’s already out there except my own indignation and sorrow. But I do have something to say about the Thanksgiving ritual, particularly the embedded legal contradiction in the practice (discussed by Luis below) of pardoning turkeys.          Continue reading

Vegan With a Vengeance

Tara Dugo

On November 22, 2009, the New York Times ran an op ed that discussed, of all things, veganism.  (Previously discussed on this blawg on November 24, 2009 and November 27, 2009.)  The op ed, which was written by Gary Steiner, a Professor of Philosophy at Bucknell University, really delved into the issues that vegans are faced with in today’s “meat-crazed society.”  While both entertaining and impassioned, Mr. Steiner asked the readers of the New York Times to basically think before they ate this Thanksgiving.  He also discussed that, just because the turkey that you are buying is labeled “free-cage” or “free-range” does not mean that the animal that you are about to ingest lived a long, comfortable life.  Instead, its life was “short and miserable” just like the turkeys that lived their short lives in factory farms.  One theme that ran throughout his article was the idea that nonhuman animals are exploited for man’s satisfaction and that this is the result of man’s feelings of superiority, since man is intelligent and compassionate.  As Mr. Steiner so perfectly stated, just because animals may not think on the same plane as humans, does not justify us using them as “organic toys.”

Mr. Steiner’s article is clearly a comment on the property paradigm with regards to animals.  It is the fact that animals are property in the law that they are exploited for human usage.  Enter veganism.  Strict vegans, as Mr. Steiner pointed out, have an abolitionist ideology when it comes to animal exploitation.  While this ideology is largely on the fringe of societal thought, a small shift is beginning.  More and more individuals are adapting a new attitude towards animals, realizing that they are, and certainly should in a legal sense be more than property.  The mere fact that the New York Times published the article by Mr. Steiner shows that animal welfare and veganism are making their way into minds of the mainstream.   Continue reading

Protecting Animals, One Mouthful at a Time

David Cassuto

Emory University is attempting to preserve “heritage” turkeys by feeding them to its students.  The Standard Bronze and Bourbon Red turkeys are in danger of dying out due to lack of demand.  So, apparently, is the Tennessee Fainting Goat and other species that don’t fit the factory farm mold.  The lede of this Chronicle of Higher Ed. article (pay site but there are day passes…) declares: “Sometimes the best way to save something is to eat it.”  It then describes how Emory ordered 1,600 pounds of birds for its Thanksgiving meals.

I’m fascinated by this rhetoric as well as how this type of logic goes routinely uncontested.  Last time I read the Endangered Species Act, it said nothing about how only edible species merit preserving.  Continue reading

It’s a Girl!

Kate Blacker

Meet my new edition, Rhonda.  She was rescued by Farm Sanctuary and lives in upstate New York.  I think she has my eyes.  You, too, can sponsor a turkey just in time for the holidays.

I admit it is a bit cliché to talk about turkey cruelty on Thanksgiving.  But it is also quite an exercise in gratitude to reflect on the life and death of a Thanksgiving turkey.  I am thankful for not having my toes chopped off.  I am thankful no one will trim off a piece of my face or neck (unless I elect to have such work done and I don’t mind paying the taxes).  I am grateful that my eyes and lungs do not burn in agony as I live out the rest of my days breathing in ammonia and standing in my own waste (and the waste of everyone around me).  I am not so overdosed with antibiotics and hormones that my little legs break underneath the immense weight of my unnaturally oversized body.

Yes, our Thanksgiving turkeys are mutilated at birth and tortured to death.  Their lives are replete with pain, misery and even sexual abuse.  I have a lot to be thankful for when I compare my life to that of the turkey.  And don’t be deceived; the life of a natural/organic turkey is no better.  You can check out some “free range” turkey farm pictures here.

Maybe we don’t need to kill turkeys in order to get the most out of Thanksgiving this year.  Maybe we can capture the spirit of Thanksgiving by having compassion for one another and by treating everyone with a little kindness.

Talking Turkey and the Sanctimony of American Slaughter

Christine Saenz

It’s that time of year again. A time when 45 million turkeys are slaughtered, stuffed, and feasted upon for Thanksgiving dinners across the U.S. According to PETA and other sources, this 45 million makes up 1/6 of the number of turkeys killed each year in America. While many animal rights groups will be imploring President Obama to pardon all turkeys this season, you shouldn’t have to worry about a protest stampeding across your lawn if you partake in this gluttonous “tradition.” Apparently the protestors and news media outlets will be thoroughly preoccupied with the Hindu Gadhimai festival in Nepal, where, every 5 years, 200,000+ animals are ritualistically sacrificed to bring peace and prosperity to devotees.

Last week, an organizing committee member defending the ritual stated, “We will not stop this centuries-old tradition now. This is our religion, belief and tradition and we will continue with it no matter what.” Sound familiar? The 45 million turkeys slaughtered in the U.S. this year will die in the name of our own time-honored beliefs and traditions. On one end of the world, hundreds of thousands of buffaloes, pigs, sheep, birds, and goats (to name just a few) will have their throats slit by priests and their carcasses distributed to devotees after the festival. In our own country, hundreds of millions of turkeys will live their lives in tightly-packed, windowless “houses,” hung upside down in shackles (alive), mercilessly slaughtered, and decorated on dining room tables.

Continue reading