The holiday season is fast approaching, and everyone is getting into the spirit of sharing thanks, gifts, and delicious food with their loved ones. Turkey is a popular meal choice for many people during this festive period, but did you know there are other ways to “have turkey” this Thanksgiving and Christmas? From plant-based meals guaranteed to knock your socks off, to starting a new tradition of sponsoring a turkey at a local sanctuary, or even attending a “Thanksgiving” event organized by one of these charities, there are so many ways to celebrate life, love, and peace this year while also keeping the animals in mind.
After all, if Thanksgiving is about celebrating life, what could be better than honoring the life of our beloved animal friends, and maybe even starting a new tradition or two in the process? Read on to discover some great ideas on having a turkey (and other animal) friendly holiday this year.
The Sad Reality of Thanksgiving Turkey
Birds are the most abused land animals on the planet; chickens, turkeys and ducks are killed in alarming numbers – for Thanksgiving alone, more than 45 million turkeys are killed each year. Turkeys are sentient, loving creatures like all animals, but are seen almost as a “man-made” product because every aspect of their lives has been altered by humans – the commercial bird cannot even breed naturally anymore, as modern breeding has given them a breast far too large to allow natural mating, and their fragile legs often break under their own weight without the added stress of a mate on top. Thus, the modern turkey is artificially inseminated, using a restraining device to keep them still, and from the moment they hatch they have their beaks and toes burnt off using a hot blade in a standard industry practice known as “debeaking” and ‘”detoeing,” before being crammed into dark buildings, surrounded by as many as 10,000 other sick and crippled birds.
This existence lasts for around three to five months, whenever the birds reach optimum weight, where they are packed off into trucks and taken to slaughter. Their short lives are devoid of anything happy, and the stress, close proximity to other birds, coupled with other unpleasant factors such as sickness, boredom, and fear, result in many birds dying before they ever reach the slaughterhouse, or suffering serious injury especially to their delicate legs and wings.
This is truly a horrible life for any animal no matter what the “justification” might be, but the fact that this happens to so many birds just for one day a year seems even more absurdly cruel. It is no wonder that so many people have decided to opt for more animal-friendly celebrations, and there are so many to choose from!
Thanksgiving Events – Celebration With The Turkeys
Many animal sanctuaries hold a celebration day each Thanksgiving to honor our turkey friends? Such events have been held in the past by Animal Place, Farm Sanctuary, Poplar Springs Sanctuary, and Sunrise Sanctuary, and not only are they hugely successful due to the curious nature of the day, but they encourage people of all ages to reconsider how they celebrate and teach children and adults alike to respect and honour these gentle creatures instead of condemning them to a short life of cruelty for one or two meals a year – which can easily and deliciously be replaced by plant foods!
Adopt a Turkey Instead!
Why not adopt a turkey and help improve the lives of animals everywhere who have escaped from these horrors? Here are just a few of the cute critters looking for a sponsor this festive season!
- Farm Sanctuary (Robin, Jackie, Pamela, Pepper, Christina)
- Hillside Animal Sanctuary (Tessa)
- Woodstock (Beatrice, Danielle, Sophie and Slick, Jean, Loren, Marley, Tomoko)
- Barnyard Sanctuary (Clark Gobbler, Handsome Harry, Thumbelina, Gabriel)
- CJ Acres (Jorge, Lady Green, Natalie, Thomas)
- SASHA Farm (Gandalf, Big Mouth)
- Pasado’s Safe Haven (Franklin)
How To Celebrate At Home
If you can’t make it to an event, or want to celebrate in a more private way, here are some great ideas for a turkey-less Thanksgiving or Christmas season! Leave the animal products off your plate but still enjoy all your favourite foods! You can try your hand at some of the recipes mentioned in this article, or why not try some of these gorgeous “turkey” dinners? It’s always more fun with a friend, so get some pals together and you can all enjoy an animal-friendly feast!
- Thanksgiving Recipes – without the turkey!
- Soups, Salads and Starters for Thanksgiving
- Meatless Thanksgiving Main Courses
- The Best Turkey Alternatives for Thanksgiving
At the core, all our holiday celebrations are special because they bring our families and friends together. With this in mind, you can be sure to have a wonderful holiday season regardless of what the traditional menu might look like. It’s never too late to start a new tradition, and what better than one grounded in compassion for another living being.
To learn more, check out Recipes for The Ultimate Vegan Thanksgiving Menu: From Meatless Main Courses to Dairy-Free Pies for more!
Lead image source: Steve Voght/Flickr