By KD Angle-Traegner, Founder & Editor

According to the US Department of Agriculture, more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the US at Thanksgiving. That’s one sixth of all turkeys sold in the US each year. I don’t know how those statistics make you feel, but if you are anything like me then they make you incredibly sad. To be frank, the whole that is Thanksgiving- the killing, the glutton, dealing with families who can’t quite wrap their heads around veganism, can be incredibly hard to deal with as a vegan. Once you open your eyes to the atrocities done to animals, seeing mass celebrations of their deaths becomes something that you dread- not look forward to.

I can has cheeseburger turkey

Tradition and the Vegan Challenge

Explaining the sadness that you might be feeling to a non-vegan isn’t always easy. At best you might be told that they understand, at worst you’ll be told that humans were meant to eat meat because of eight million reasons- all of which they’ll be happy to list out until all you can hear are the reverberations of Defensive Omnivore Bingo. If you’ve been vegan for longer than a year, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you will. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that every non-vegan is like this- I’m saying that it’s more common than it’s not.

vegan-bingo

Sound Familiar?

I’ve always said that the hardest part of living as a vegan isn’t removing animal products from our lives, it’s living in a world that wasn’t designed for us that is filled with the people who created it in the first place. In other words, the hardest part of living vegan is dealing with non-vegans. There are some exceptions as there always are, of course, and those exceptions grow in numbers every year as the world becomes more and more vegan-friendly. But if you’ve ever experienced this from others, then you know how frustrating it can be.

On a Positive Note

The non-vegan world we live in isn’t all bad though, and there are plenty of reasons to celebrate and be thankful. To start, the number of vegans is growing exponentially every year. That’s a good thing because it means that less animals are being raised and slaughtered every year. In fact, according to data, 7% of the US population now identifies as living vegan. Also encouraging, 26% – 41% of people polled say that they are cutting back on meat consumption. Even better, research shows that vegan related content was mentioned on social media 43 million times in a 90-day period. To put that in perspective, Coca-cola had 41 million mentions in the same time period. What I’m saying is, veganism is moving solidly into the mainstream. That is something to celebrate.

Also, there are more vegan blogs on the internet. Blogging might not be the first thing you think about when you think about vegan advocacy tools, but a vegan blog has the potential to go viral- taking the message of veganism along with it. After living a vegan lifestyle, talking about veganism and sharing vegan information is one of the most important things you can do as an advocate. Most people have been told their entire lives that animals are food, fabric, or anything else we want them to be. They have been told this so much that they use animal products and by-products without even thinking too much about it at all. To them, a pig is pork and a cow is beef. Animal Agribusiness has been on a mission since its inception to misdirect our attention so that we’ll forget that animals are individuals with interests of their own. Here’s the scary part- it worked. Most people, if you ask them, love animals and don’t want to hurt them. Yet, they don’t realize that a non-vegan lifestyle does just that. Getting vegan information in front of as many eyes as possible is an important step in creating a vegan world. Having more vegan blogs does just that.

Related Reading: How to Start a Vegan Blog

Turkeys

Meet a Turkey

Unfortunately, most of what people know about turkeys comes from what we are taught in school. Remember tracing your hand as a child to make a turkey? I certainly do. Turkeys are sensitive, social individuals, and in conditions where they are permitted to live and thrive, they are adaptive and intelligent. Turkey moms, called hens, are devoted mothers. They care for their broods, staying together for 4-5 months. Male siblings actually maintain a social bond for their entire life.

Did you know that turkeys sleep (roost) high in trees, safe from predators? Or that the size of a brood’s home can be as large as 500 acres? Here are some other fast facts from Woodstock Sanctuary:

  • Turkeys like to eat breakfast and dinner together as a family.
  • When trust has been established, turkeys love to be stroked, snuggled and petted for long periods of time. When receiving such affection, many turkeys make a sound that can only be described as “purring.”
  • Turkeys like to listen to music, especially classical, and will often sing along!
  • Male turkeys, called toms, love to feel noticed and admired. Toms on sanctuaries are known to follow busy human caretakers from chore to chore, standing off to the side, puffing out their exquisite feathers in a blast of scalloped ruffles, quietly and patiently waiting for the prospect of attention.

I had the chance to meet two turkeys on a recent trip to Lasa Sanctuary, Veronica and Pete. Veronica was curious and followed me around. Pete with his gorgeous feathers all poofed out in display, was just waiting for us to admire him. They are both unique, as all turkeys are. Personally meeting a turkey can make all the difference for someone who has never met one. In an instant, the word “turkey” changes from an object, a food, into “turkey,” an animal, an individual who matters. If you’ve never had the opportunity to meet one in person, I highly recommend it. Visiting an animal sanctuary can (and will) change your life.

Find a sanctuary near you:  Sanctuary Database

Thousands of Reasons to be Thankful

Thanksgiving is a holiday where we give thanks. This year I’d like to give thanks first to Daria Zeoli and Jenny Canham, the other parts of the YDV team. These ladies work hard creating content that is informational and inspirational, and they do it with intelligence, style, and flair. This site wouldn’t be what it is without them and I’m eternally grateful for their partnership, and their friendship.

I’m also grateful for the thousands of people like you.

Without you, Your Daily Vegan wouldn’t exist. But even beyond that, without you the animals would have less advocates working to help set them free. There would be less kindness, less compassion, and less people making a difference every single day. Thank you for you advocacy. Thank you for your commitment and passion for justice. Thank you for caring. The world is better because you are in it. Happy Thanksgiving.

Photos: Allyson Dwyer