Thinking of others in the holiday season

As a diary of sorts, I feel I should be able to rant on discuss any topic of interest to me, but I’m also sensitive to how my opinions (however strongly held) may differ from readers’, and that my opinions do evolve. I’m going to talk briefly about turkeys at Thanksgiving because it’s not something I’ve ever heard about until I went looking for the information, and while this may only be my third Thanksgiving NOT eating turkey flesh, it’s nonetheless important to me and I hope will not be taken as a strictly holier-than-thou entry (which I don’t intend any of them to be, but I’m not sure I’m successful in getting that across sometimes).

This year I decided to adopt a turkey, sort of in an effort to atone for the turkeys that would be purchased to eat at the work and family functions I will attend, and because it makes me feel good to donate to causes that make life better for animals. This is Apollo, who lives at Farm Sanctuary in New York:

Lacking the facilities to physically adopt animals saved from factory farming, I am really just sponsoring him. Maybe someday I will be able to do more, but the foster rabbits will have to do for now. I did get to meet some cool turkeys during a rabbit rescue last year.

While I was at Farm Sanctuary’s website, I found these (all pictures/italicized captions belong to them):

Bred to grow unnaturally quickly, factory-farmed turkeys suffer crippling leg injuries and often die stuck in the excrement that covers the warehouse floor.

Hanging upside down and shackled by their feet, turkeys enter the slaughterhouse.
(The Humane Slaughter Act does not apply to poultry or rabbits, which means they do not have to be rendered unconscious before killing them.)

(Celebration FOR the Turkeys at Farm Sanctuary)

I wish I didn’t feel like I had to apologize for being vegetarian, but an awful lot of people go on the defensive when they find out I am. Or they demand to know if I consume dairy/eggs, somehow looking for a loophole in my sincerity that excuses them from having to think about their own hypocrisy. Nope, I’m not perfect. I still have some leather shoes and I still buy a few eggs (I go out of my way to find free range eggs, but there are plenty of reasons why that’s “not enough”). On the other hand, once I thought about my reasons for eating meat, I decided it wasn’t acceptable for a being to have to die for my lunch. It just didn’t make sense to me. So that’s when I started figuring out where to draw my new line, and it still moves a little as I consider more data (no, it does not move such that I eat any meat or other foods that require someone to die).

Honestly, I haven’t watched the horrible videos that are supposedly out there about slaughterhouses and factory farms. I already know it’s terrible and would make me cry. But I have read enough and seen a few pictures; they make me look for alternatives, whether that’s me eating a fake turkey product at Thanksgiving, or encouraging a meat-eater to find a humanely-raised and slaughtered turkey for themselves. Did you know Californians just passed Proposition 2? It wasn’t just a bunch of vegetarians voting for this:

This law phases out some of the most restrictive confinement systems used by factory farms – gestation crates for breeding pigs, veal crates for calves and battery cages for egg laying hens – affecting 20 million farm animals in the state by simply granting them space to stand up, stretch their limbs, turn around and lie down comfortably

That’s AWESOME. I would like to have an audience that can share in those victories with me, even if we don’t practice the same eating habits. Perhaps they will make small changes in their shopping habits. One step at a time, people… just switching from regular eggs to ones marked “cage free” may not be all fun and games for the hens, but you won’t be supporting battery cage use, and that’s an EASY change at your same grocery store.

On the same day I sponsored Apollo, I also gave to Critter Corral guinea pig rescue, Wheeler Mission (which is uncharacteristically churchy of me, but they are doing great work with the homeless and hungry in our city), and Gleaners Food Bank, which runs nine food banks that distribute food products to 400 central Indiana hunger charities. I tend to identify with animal needs more, perhaps because they really have no voice except the one we provide on their behalf, but I am saddened by my neighbors not having enough to eat. I think I lack the constitution to make myself face the situation in a shelter (though I hope to “evolve” here too), so I choose to donate money instead. The downturn in the economy only means more trouble for those struggling in poverty in the first place.

Give where your heart is this season!

3 thoughts on “Thinking of others in the holiday season

  1. Hi Amy, Good for you for raising awareness about Thanksgiving turkeys. I had a business dinner tonight where the menu was “chosen”ahead of time. A little concerned, I approached the host to see if there was something I could eat. One request for a vegetarian entree was honored by staff and none of my business dinner guests had any objections – I ate vegan veggie pasta while they ate steaks. Perhaps people in Canada are more enlightened than folks in Indianapolis? Keep up the good work!

  2. This sounds so lazy, but I think I’m going to try going vegan once I’m done nursing. Or once I get more sleep. Whichever happens first. Reorganizing our eating lives right now is too hard. I’m a non-red meat eater right now and could lose poultry quickly. Dairy will be the toughie.
    Anyway, inspiring post.

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