The National Turkey Federation estimates Americans ate approximately 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving Day in 2011. While a significant number of people think of themselves as animal lovers, there is a persistent barrier getting those same people to acknowledge turkeys are sentient animals—like their cat, dog, and bird companions—who possess desires and preferences, and experience pleasure and suffering. If asked to distinguish individual turkeys amongst thousands crammed into a shed or barn, most people would “see” little difference between the animals. And yet, each bird is a unique individual.
In what promises to be a bountiful project in the making, artist Cheryl Miller invites members of the public family to “join her at the table” to create an artistic remembrance of every single one of those 46 million birds.
While working at a sanctuary for farm animals, Ms. Miller experienced a Thanksgiving like no other. Like most Americans, Thanksgiving was a major celebration for the farm’s staff—but with a twist. Staff would prepare and serve the resident turkeys a feast of greens, cranberries, squash, and pumpkin pie. “It was so delightful for me to watch the honored guests gather round, cluck, and peck at the offering prepared just for them,” explains Ms. Miller. “It was without question, one of my favorite and most memorable Thanksgivings since becoming a vegetarian in 1980.”
Following that experience, the artist created a personal and meaningful tradition to celebrate the holiday. For the past 16 years she has painted turkey portraits on Thanksgiving. This year, taking the tradition a step further, the artist intends to create by inviting the participation of guests, a mini portrait for each of the 46 million turkeys destined for holiday tables this year.
Everyone is invited to sit down at the 46millionturkeys Thanksgiving table and spread compassion. You do not have to be an artist to participate. Go to 46millionturkeys.com to learn more and be counted!
This November 20-30, 2014 Evolve Restaurant (located at 341 Cedar St NW, Washington, District of Columbia) will host The 46millionturkeys Project. Everyone is invited to view the thousands of turkey submissions from around the world as well as make their own turkey creation to be included in The 46millionturkeys Project. The public is invited to meet the artist on Thursday, November 20th from 3-9 pm. Evolve serves soulful vegan cuisine like you’ve never had before!
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