The turkey on your table went through a lot before she got there. She
was 'factory farmed.' This involves procedures that can be defined as
extreme torture. Within the first three hours of her birth, the baby
turkey had three-toes chopped off and she was debeaked, all without
anesthetic. Debeaking involves amputating the highly sensitive beak
tissue with a hot blade, and it causes life-long pain and suffering.
Both debeaking and toe amputation are regarded as 'necessary,' so the
birds will not peck and claw each to death out of misery and
frustration in the warehouses where they 'live' until slaughter.
Factory farming, also called 'intensive confinement,' crowds thousands
of birds together in large barns where they stand in their own
excrement, breathing in the ammonia fumes caused by the build up. They
live their entire lives under these conditions, which cause ulcerated
feet, destroyed lungs, and eyes burned out by the fumes—not to mention
emotional frustration, stress, and eventually insanity. They're also
fed a steady diet of antibiotics, to keep them alive in their hell
long enough to get them to slaughter.
The only mercy is that their lifespan is brief: within 3 to 5 months,
the bird, engineered to grow at an abnormal pace, is ready to
slaughter. 'Stunning' by electricity, before throat cutting, is
supposedly 'humane,' at least the poultry industry calls it
this—'humane slaughter.' We humans are good at inventing oxymorons. In
truth, the electricity razors through the birds' eyes, eardrums, and
hearts, causing unbearable pain.
Turkeys in the wild are large and beautiful and proud, with eyes full
of light and life.
At the center of the table is the turkey—looking all brown and basted
and shining, shining like the spiritual bounty in the faces of the
All I know is that you can't build any kind of spirituality on the
misery of other beings.
It is taken for granted, the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, apparently
even by those with some knowledge of the misery. I remember seeing a
movie with Richard Gere, who is a vegetarian, and a Buddhist who
lobbies for spiritual peace, sitting at just such a table, with the
turkey in the center. No peace for that turkey.
Vegetarians live longer than meat eaters. We have fewer diseases. We
eat in peace because we know we're not torturing anything.
Sources: I took my material from the United Poultry Concerns website.
You can also find information at PETA, Farm Sanctuary, Viva! (a UK
group), and COK (Compassion Over Killing).