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A few years ago just before Thanksgiving, a woman named Anna pulled up to the barn at Catskill Animal Sanctuary. I walked out to meet her; we’d been expecting her and her passenger.

In a crate inside her wagon, a large turkey was close to hyperventilating. Her legs were splayed out  — a debilitating condition brought on by an industry that forces animals to grow so quickly that many die of heart attacks within the first weeks of life.

As we settled the bird we named “Henrietta” into her new home, I asked Anna what compelled her to save this one turkey’s life.

“She was cute,” she said.

“So what are you having for Thanksgiving dinner?” I asked. It was the obvious next question.

“Turkey.”

A few weeks after a woman chose to spare one turkey and take another’s life, the one spared became a member of the Underfoot Family, a motley crew of birds, pigs, sheep, and goats who freely roam Sanctuary grounds during working hours.

 

Henrietta was a force of nature. Every morning, she rushed from her house with abandon and exuberance. She took a nanosecond to survey the scene and then began to talk. And talk. And talk.

“Good morning, bird,” we’d say. She’d come as close as she could, tilt her head to look us in the eye, then respond with a beautiful trill. When we stroked her, she blinked that long, languid blink that those who live with cats know well. It’s a sign of affection used by these sensitive, emotional animals.

Henrietta’s day wasn’t complete unless she spent time with Atlas, a goat crippled from neglect. She nestled her big bird body next to his as he lay on a pile of straw. She talked softly to him, and Atlas rubbed his cheek over Henrietta’s back. They often slept together, side by side. They loved each other.

Relationships among farm animals are no less meaningful than my relationship with Chumbley, the dog who sleeps next to me at night. Just because few humans witness these friendships doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Indeed, when one works among animals, she learns a life-altering truth that’s become Catskill’s mantra: in ways that truly matter, we are all the same.

 

It’s a fact known to all of us lucky enough to share our days with animals. Given the chance to thrive, “food” animals exhibit every emotion and many behaviors some humans consider “ours” alone: joy, sadness, anger, impatience, contentment, jealousy, inquisitiveness, affection … and so on. Pigs laugh. If they’re not in too much pain from industry-induced size, turkeys love to accompany our weekend tours. They meander into the group, find one person, toddle over to say hello, then stroll with us as we make our way through the grounds, meeting friend after friend. The animals who call Catskill home are exceptional ambassadors, doing more than we humans ever can to help visitors understand that animals don’t belong on the table.

 

When I became vegan years ago, it was because I didn’t want to participate in the torture of animals whose desire to live and to thrive is as strong as mine. But today there’s another urgency. Unless humanity faces the collision course that we’re on — largely driven by our diet — and takes responsibility for changing it, we’re all doomed. Rapid population growth and the Westernization of developing countries translates to increased meat consumption, which translates to more water use, more fossil fuel production, more land and water degradation, more climate instability…all of which collectively translate to disaster. The Earth ain’t gettin’ bigger to keep pace with our demands. How long before we, the most invasive species that has ever lived, destroy the planet that sustains us all?

 

It’s easy to feel discouraged and powerless given the current political climate. But Catskill Animal Sanctuary chooses to believe in each person’s capacity to change. We are redoubling our commitment to a world free from suffering and growing our capacity — with a mentoring program, a youth leadership program, an expanded culinary program, and more. We vow to stand tall, and to speak for all of us — the two and four-legged, the furred and the feathered — no matter how dark the upcoming days. We honor all of you who share our vision, and during this time of Thanksgiving, offer our friendship and our gratitude.

Onward.

All Image Source: Catskill Animal Sanctuary

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19 comments on “How Henrietta the Turkey Can Change How the World Thinks About Food – and Why That’s More Important Than Ever”

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Barry L.Scott
7 Months Ago

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7 Months Ago


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7 Months Ago

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Yildiz Altas
7 Months Ago


Reply
Sandie Tripp
7 Months Ago

What a nice story. I hope it will happen.


Reply
Carolyn Hoyt
7 Months Ago

Was going to share, but you people just had to take the cheap shot at President Trump. Oh yes Hildabitch is simply an angel in disguise if only that death Angel was in the WH. Throw in the corpses the whores and Planned Deathhood kill daily with the animals tortured from the day they are born and get off your sanctimonious high horse. Birthday abortion is fine with Hildabitch. Screw Thanksgiving and your endless whining. Catskill is that code for PETA the Planned Deathhood of the animal world? Good luck Henrietta, you and the goat will end up on a plate if the whining cucks can figure out a way to blame Trump.


Reply
Caprice Insco
23 Nov 2017

While i share your sentiments about peta... I've no clue how you got any of that rant from this article lol

CassieTiffany
7 Months Ago

Genuine online spell cater on urgent love spell to get your ex back, fix your broken marriage and stop divorce [email protected] is the best dr to help you and restored back your happiness
I just found out about my husband cheating on me with a co-worker! We’ve been married going on two years. 2kids. lots of amazing momments together. i want to leave, but i love him so much. all i can think about is how nothing stopped him. how he has to see her everyday because they work together. we are both still young and very attractive. but i want my husband, my friend, and the father of my beautiful children. how do i get past the thought of another woman having my husband? Not my fiancé, not my boyfriend, but my husband! i still love him even though he thinks i want to leave i really want him to do better and stop me before i walk out! my husband told me that he doesn’t feel loved anymore, just because of this co-worker he has be cheating on with me that he wants a divorce, i was devastated, heart broken i begged him to listen to me that we can work it out like we always do, but he didn’t listen, he told me that he met someone that loves and understands him, i begged him to consider our kids but he’s did listen. he left and i was frustrated, i began searching for help and answers, then i heard about a man that can Cast a spell to remind him of all the things we have been through together, at first I was scared then i decided to give it a try, and like magic my husband came back, apology and begging for forgiveness, thanks to this man, I’m posting this to help people with
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Reply
Susan Baker
7 Months Ago

If you love love animals and birds, how can u eat them !!!!!! ,! !


Reply
Laurie Schwartz
23 Nov 2017

So true!! And fish too, of course.

CassieTiffany
7 Months Ago

Genuine online spell cater on urgent love spell to get your ex back, fix your broken marriage and stop divorce [email protected] is the best dr to help you and restored back your happiness
I just found out about my husband cheating on me with a co-worker! We’ve been married going on two years. 2kids. lots of amazing momments together. i want to leave, but i love him so much. all i can think about is how nothing stopped him. how he has to see her everyday because they work together. we are both still young and very attractive. but i want my husband, my friend, and the father of my beautiful children. how do i get past the thought of another woman having my husband? Not my fiancé, not my boyfriend, but my husband! i still love him even though he thinks i want to leave i really want him to do better and stop me before i walk out! my husband told me that he doesn’t feel loved anymore, just because of this co-worker he has be cheating on with me that he wants a divorce, i was devastated, heart broken i begged him to listen to me that we can work it out like we always do, but he didn’t listen, he told me that he met someone that loves and understands him, i begged him to consider our kids but he’s did listen. he left and i was frustrated, i began searching for help and answers, then i heard about a man that can Cast a spell to remind him of all the things we have been through together, at first I was scared then i decided to give it a try, and like magic my husband came back, apology and begging for forgiveness, thanks to this man, I’m posting this to help people with
similar issues. You can contact him for help too. [email protected] or call and add him of on whatsapp number: +2348133873774


Reply
pmc
7 Months Ago

I\'m not a vegetarian or a vegan. Not a leap I\'ve been able to make. I would most certainly not use the bible to try to defend why I think it\'s ok to eat meat, perhaps before there were billions of us it was "ok", IDK. I don\'t feel good about it. But anyway, what I would suggest is that more organizations work to help science develop good meat substitutes that taste delicious to help those of us who would like to stop the slaughter but feel that for health and taste purposes meat serves an important role in our diet. I think this would do more to cure this problem than trying to "moralize" the issue with people who don\'t care. (the people who don\'t care, don\'t really want to switch to tofu, bean burgers, etc. they want "meat" or something that has the same texture, flavor, juiciness, etc.) I\'m not saying people are right or wrong, I\'m just saying I think there is a solution that would work better.


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