Would you eat a bald eagle for Thanksgiving dinner? Preferably not. In fact, you’ve probably never eaten this iconic American symbol. However, if Benjamin Franklin had succeeded, we could eat eagles and not turkeys for our celebratory meal. “While Benjamin Franklin did not champion the turkey as our national bird, he preferred them to bald eagles. In a letter to his daughter, [he] called the bald eagle “a bird of bad character” because it steals from other birds. He called the turkey a “much more respectable bird”, a “bird of courage” and a “true native of America”.worldanimalprotection.us/blogs/10-turkey-facts)
Every year on the fourth Thursday of November, millions of people sit down to gobble up more than 675 million pounds of turkeys in the name of ‘give thanks’. The tradition dates back to 1621 when pilgrims gave thanks to God for a bountiful growing season. With the help of Native Americans, the Pilgrims learned to survive. We all know how it went for Native Americans. And it hasn’t been much better for the turkeys.
Turkeys are bred, drugged and genetically manipulated to grow as big as possible as quickly as possible. In 1970, the average turkey raised for meat weighed 17 pounds. Today, turkeys weigh an average of 28 pounds. Due to this artificial manipulation of their size, turkeys’ legs often break under them. Also, instead of living their full lifespan of over 10 years, they are slaughtered at 5-6 months.
When the turkeys arrive at the slaughterhouse, they are hung upside down by their legs, which often break during the process, if they are not already broken. Then their heads are dipped in electrified water before their throats are slit. They are then immersed in boiling water to defeat them. Many turkeys are not stunned properly and are scalded to death.
However, much of the abuse of turkeys begins long before they reach the slaughterhouse. It starts with how turkeys are grown, or rather overgrown. Turkeys are bred to have such large breasts that they cannot mate naturally. A milker must stimulate the males so that the females can be artificially inseminated. Due to their large breasts, turkeys suffer from conditions similar to those of overweight humans: heart failure, lung and liver disease, and coronary problems.
Because confined animal feeding operations, also known as factory farms, bring together thousands of birds under one roof, turkeys have three toes cut off as well as the fleshy part under their upper beak as well as a part of the beak to prevent injury which is likely to occur in severely confined conditions. All of these surgeries are done without anesthesia. The Animal Protection Act, the only federal animal protection law, excludes farm animals from its protection.
The abuse often goes beyond what is done to turkeys to prepare them for slaughter. For example, three workers at a West Virginia slaughterhouse were filmed abusing turkeys to such an extent (slamming them into metal cages, stomping on their heads and twisting their necks) that the workers eventually were charged with animal abuse and found guilty. Was this abuse an isolated case in a company slaughterhouse? Preferably not.
Few people complain about this abuse, but people can certainly get excited when they see or hear about an abused cat or dog. What hypocrisy. For while thousands of pets are suffering from abuse and we should be horrified by that number, Americans sit in front of more than 46 million turkeys with no more than a thought “Please, pass the sauce” on the lives of these living, breathing, sentient animals. creatures that live and die in odious conditions.
Some turkeys enjoy a long and peaceful life. At the Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in western Maryland, instead of being eaten, rescued turkeys are the guests of honor at the annual Thanksgiving celebration. Like cats and dogs, turkeys are intelligent and sensitive animals that form strong social bonds and show great affection for others. “They are so friendly and love to follow people around like a dog and love to sit close to you or even in your lap to be petted. Anyone who meets them in person will see how wonderful they are… These wonderful, intelligent birds deserve our respect and compassion. said Terry Cummings, co-founder of the sanctuary.
Each year, one or two turkeys are pardoned by the White House, but we can go further and forgive all the turkeys this Thanksgiving by not eating them. However, do not substitute another living creature for the turkey you forgive. All farm animals suffer, like turkeys, from birth to slaughter. Stick to the holiday side dishes – yams, collard greens, mashed potatoes, green beans, etc. Give thanks on Thanksgiving for sentient beings by sparing the life of a “true Native American”.
— Ginnie R. Maurer lives in Falling Waters and can be reached at [email protected].