Thanksgiving has always been one my favorite holidays. Here in New Hampshire we are usually just on the delicate cusp between fall and winter. The leaves are down, the skies are still clear and bright blue, but the ground is frozen and wincing from the cold reality of a fast-approaching winter.
One of my personal traditions this time of year is listening to Dvorak’s “New World Symphony.” When I was still a teenager, my uncle gave me a recording of this classic; I believe George Szell was conducting the Cleveland Orchestra. I listened to it over and over; the early American folk songs as envisioned by Dvorak were embedded in my young consciousness. They have never left. His music inspired vivid images of the first settlers in this area — a land that was still wild, pristine, romantic in its breathtaking beauty and possibilities.
Every now and then, living close to the woods and hills of northern New England, I can feel those images of Dvorak coming to life around me. This is especially true around Thanksgiving, the quintessential holiday of the New World. Thanksgiving makes me think of the wild turkeys that emerge from the woods in late fall. I love watching them waddle down my yard, like boot camp soldiers trying to learn how to march, all left feet and proud nevertheless. Their captain, usually the oldest male, keeps guard against “the enemy.” For turkeys, that means something human. Most times, at least around here, they escape into the woods, fat, happy, and unharmed.
The turkeys we find frozen in our local supermarkets are obviously not so lucky. As a vegetarian I realize that I have a less-than-typical perspective about eating meat and our tradition of gobbling up bird flesh on a day that commemorates our freedom in a new land. On the other hand, most people that I know who eat meat have no idea how their food landed on their plates. We humans have a bizarre “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it comes to discussing our methods of raising and slaughtering animals. Most people would just rather not hear about it.
If PETA is controversial, it is because it knows that sometimes “in-your-face” methods are often needed just to break through our consciousness and make us aware of what we do, needlessly, to feed ourselves. How do you get the attention of people wearing ear muffs over their psyches?
So, in an attempt to break through to the hearty souls who are still reading this, here is some unnerving information about how that Butterball turkey became the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving meal.
Butterball workers were documented punching and stomping on live turkeys, slamming them against walls, and worse during an undercover investigation at a Butterball slaughterhouse in Ozark, Arkansas.
One Butterball employee stomped on a bird’s head until her skull exploded, another swung a turkey against a metal handrail so hard that her spine popped out, and another was seen inserting his finger into a turkey’s cloaca (vagina).
Need more evidence? Watch this video from PETA.
Almost 400 years after the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower, perhaps we have advanced in our attitudes about the planet we share with other species.
There are alternatives to eating meat.
Be thankful but don’t be cruel.
Go to the PETA web site and learn more.