Last year, we convinced two New York City live slaughter markets to spare the lives of three one-month-old turkeys who would otherwise have been destined for slaughter as well as rescued two turkeys found wandering the streets. We also partnered with PETA to distribute 1,000 delicious turkey-free meals that both turkeys and our communities can be thankful for. This year, we hope to rescue and give out even more.
By John Di Leonardo
Turkeys are gentle and intelligent animals who, like dogs, enjoy having their bellies rubbed and light up when their favorite person is in the room. Like us, they appreciate music, with which they’ll often loudly sing along. In nature, they’ll fly 55 miles an hour, run 35 miles an hour, and live up to 10 years.
However, the 46 million turkeys who will be killed for Thanksgiving this year never knew that life. Like chickens, turkeys raised and killed in the U.S. have no federal legal protection. On factory farms, they’re kept in cramped and filthy sheds by the thousands and killed when they’re still babies: only 3 to 5 months old. Driven psychotic by their harsh realities, they self-mutilate and are driven to cannibalism. Rather than improving conditions, farmers resort to severing–without painkillers–the ends of their toes, their snoods–the long protuberance on their face they use to show affection for one another–and even the ends of their beaks–which are filled with nerve endings, and they use like we use our fingers–to minimize the damage they can do to their product. In their short lives, these turkeys will have never known even the simple pleasures of parenthood, built a nest, or even felt the sun on their backs before they’re hung upside down and have their throats slit.
We do not need to support this cruel tradition in order to celebrate Thanksgiving (an official holiday in the USA celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November for the bounty of harvest nature provided, also celebrated in half a dozen other nations for the same reason but on different dates) or any other holiday, however. Ahead of Thanksgiving, my organization Humane Long Island practices Anuvrat, or small vows, to honor these turkeys by not only leaving them off our plates but asking slaughterhouses to spare them. Last year, we convinced two New York City live slaughter markets to spare the lives of three one-month-old turkeys who would otherwise have been destined for slaughter as well as rescued two turkeys found wandering the streets. We also partnered with PETA to distribute 1,000 delicious turkey-free meals that both turkeys and our communities can be thankful for. This year, we hope to rescue and give out even more.
For this week’s Anuvrat, I invite you to celebrate a cruelty-free Thanksgiving, leaving animals off your plate and supporting your local indigenous or animal welfare organizations. With a buffet of plant-based options, such as Tofurky, Gardein, Field Roast, and more, available at local grocery stores, it has never been easier to pursue a kind and compassionate, animal-free lifestyle. For help, or to join us in our efforts to create a more humane Long Island, please contact us at www.humanelongisland.org.
John Di Leonardo is the founding director of Humane Long Island. He was previously the Senior Manager of Grassroots Campaigns and Animals in Entertainment Campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). He has a Master’s degree in Anthrozoology from Canisius College. He also earned a graduate certificate in Jain Studies from the International School of Jain Studies (ISJS) in India. John can be reached at [email protected].