thanksgiving 3
My Daughter and Family
Mom and Her Kids

Boy, do I love special occasions and holidays because my family will usually get together to be together and to celebrate.  Thanksgiving is no exception and this year we will all gather at my daughter’s home. My daughter has recently moved closer to home and I revel in the opportunity to get together more often. Time, space and circumstance have often dictated that family events take place at the old family homestead, but that is changing now. I often find myself celebrating at the homes of my son and daughter. And, I love it!!!!

Not a day goes by that I do not think about the non humans out there suffering unimaginably at the whim of agri-business, the almighty dollar and our conditioned from birth palates. This knowledge is  particularly difficult for me when holidays approach.  I know that long held family traditions dictate that the lion’s share of the celebratory food will be prepared using the flesh and secretions of non human animals.

Mama Turkey and Baby
Mama Turkey and Baby
Trussed Turkey
Trussed Turkey

We all know who will be sacrificed in astonishing numbers this Thanksgiving -that is right, the turkey.

Allow me to share with you some facts about the turkey industry here in Canada and the United States:

Sad, sad fact: If domesticated turkeys were allowed to live out their natural lives in peace, they would live to an average age of ten years, not three to five months.

Canada (2008) Turkey Farmers of Canada

Whole bird sales are seasonal:
At Thanksgiving 2008, 2.7 million whole turkeys were purchased by Canadians, equal to 28% of all whole turkeys that were sold over the year.
Thanksgiving and Christmas account for 71% of annual whole turkey sales.
At Thanksgiving 2008, 5 million or 39% of all Canadian households purchased turkey and turkey products.

United States (2012) National Turkey Federation

In 2012, more than 253.5 million turkeys were raised. More than 210 million were consumed in the United States. We estimate that 46 million of those turkeys were eaten at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas and 19 million at Easter.

North American Turkey Industry: (Farm Sanctuary Fact Sheet) (paraphrased)

Farmed Turkeys
Farmed Turkeys

Up to 10,000 birds packed into a single factory building.

2.5 to 4 square feet of floor space per bird. 

Birds have trouble breathing and suffer from irritated, swollen eyes in dusty and ammonia-filled building.

Crippling Weight:
 Selectively bred to grow rapidly and excessively.

 Prone to lameness, deformities, and crippling leg pain.

De-beaking and De-toeing:
Overcrowding and resulting stress can cause turkeys to injure each other with sharp beaks and toes.

Solution involves cutting off portions of newly hatched baby turkeys beaks and toes with shears, a hot blade, or a high-voltage electrical current all without any pain relief or anesthetic.

Unnatural Behavior:
 Males bred to develop such large breasts that they cannot breed naturally.

Artificial insemination managed by humans is the only way breeding is possible in the turkey industry.

Packed into crates and sent to slaughter at three to five months old. 

Rough handling results in dislocated hips and wing fractures.

Each year hundreds of thousands (American stat)  die in transit to slaughterhouse.

Shackled upside down by their feet  while they are still alive and fully conscious.

I get it. Like so many of us, I did not know of the cruelty to which I was contributing  when I was happily replicating everything I learned from my mom ( who learned it from her mom) about eating and celebrations. But, I know better now. I know of the suffering, I know that all species form families with whom they share love and I know that we have no nutritional need for their flesh and secretions. Now that I know better, I do things differently, compassionately, with full knowledge that no one is being intentionally harmed for the sake of my taste buds.

So this Thanksgiving my daughter will be preparing a 100% plant based Mexican Fiesta. I encourage you to join us is choosing a plant based, cruelty free celebration. If you prefer the tradition of a harvest meal, please check out this video of recipes for a Vegan Thanksgiving.

Annie’s Vegan View

Kindness and compassion are never out of style.

Let us all live ethically as we celebrate with our loved ones.

Please choose plant based and save a life.

Therein lies our own salvation

May all beings be happy and free.



Let’s Talk Turkey and Thanksgiving

5 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Turkey and Thanksgiving

  • October 10, 2014 at 11:32 am

    We are having a (plant-based) Mexican fiesta for Thanksgiving – and I’m sure it will be delicious.

    In anticipation of Thanksgiving, my 6-year old (vegan) daughter and I have been reading “Twas the Night before Thanksgiving” by Dav Pilkey, which tells the tale of a group of kids who go on a field trip to a turkey farm, fall in love with the bright and friendly turkeys they meet, and after learning about their planned fate, rescue them and bring them home to enjoy a (plant-based) Thanksgiving celebration (as guests!) with their families. It’s pretty delightful, and really underscores the message that we should be thankful for turkeys on Thanksgiving, which obviously precludes eating them!

    Maybe you would consider doing a post on good literature for vegan kids? So many of the holiday books, even if not directly about the consumption of animals, feature pictures of families feasting on animals – not something my little ones relate to all that well…

    • October 11, 2014 at 3:22 am

      Hi Allison,

      Woodstock Farm Sanctuary and Farm Sanctuary, both in New York State, have Thanksgiving celebrations for the turkeys. It is a great concept. Interesting thought to do a review of children’s books about free living non human animals. I will certainly consider it. Thanks for the suggestion!
      Looking forward to the Mexican Fiesta.

  • October 16, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Hi friend,
    Thank you so much for the links to your posts. I love Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I read so much of her work when I first chose vegan. I listen to her podcasts and use her cookbooks regularly.
    I hear you about feeling depressed. I get feeling that way too.
    Your post about the kids literature is very helpful.
    Many thanks,

  • October 20, 2016 at 7:27 am

    Hi Anne
    We don’t have thanksgiving over here in the U.K but we celebrate Harvest Festival at church. We display lots of fruit and vegetables. I know people still eat non human animals but at least I don’t have to watch. Christmas and Easter are bad enough! I find it very difficult now to eat at a table with others who are eating meat but I try to see it as an opportunity to talk to my non vegan friends and family members about it. I like to bring things that they can try if they want so they can see for themselves how delicious vegan food is. It is of course sometimes very depressing also.

    I think the idea of kids literature on vegan thanksgiving is a brilliant idea. Casey Taft from vegan publishers has just brought one out I think; a board book on a vegan thanksgiving. We need more of this!!

    Take care



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