In honor of Thanksgiving this year, I spent my Saturday at a farmed animal sanctuary in Maryland. One of my favorite places on Earth, this sanctuary takes in animals rescued from factory farms and slaughterhouses and provides them with a safe and loving environment where they can spend the rest of their lives in peace. It is one of the few places in the area where people can meet and interact with animals who would typically be found on dinner plates as meat, dairy, and eggs.
For Thanksgiving Day alone, over 45 million turkeys become the centerpiece on holiday tables across the United States. Before they end up on grocery store shelves, these gentle and inquisitive animals are confined in giant sheds that house tens of thousands of birds in one building. Due to this severe overcrowding, turkey chicks are de-beaked and their toes are amputated. During their short lives, turkeys suffer from crippling bone and joint problems due to their abnormally fast growth promoted by antibiotic use and selective breeding. They are then slaughtered as young as 4 months old.
For the past 5 Thanksgivings – and every day in between – I have chosen compassion for farmed animals by not eating turkey or any other animal products. Instead of turkey, I eat plant-based products likeTofurky Deli Slices, Gardein Savory Stuffed Turk’y, and Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips. I developed this recipe for my family’s Thanksgiving feast – Compassionate Casserole – where many holiday flavors are baked right in!
Learn more about the turkey industry from Compassion Over Killing and then give turkeys something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving by leaving them off your plate!
Elena Johnson is the Special Projects Manager at Compassion Over Killing, a national animal advocacy organization focusing on cruelty to animals in agriculture and promoting vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world for all. She is also a vegan chef and caterer who combines her passion for vegetarian food with a love of teaching by offering cooking demonstrations to the public. Questions/feedback: email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Elena on Twitter: @ElenaEJohnson.