Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. It isn’t an easy day for vegans and turkeys.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the US at Thanksgiving. To put that number in perspective: 10,000 dogs were killed and eaten during the 2016 Yulin Dog Meat Festival.
I don’t have to tell you that these statistics are unbearably sad, you know they are.
You know that dealing with the whole that is Thanksgiving — the emotions from 45 million deaths and dealing with families who can’t quite wrap their heads around veganism — can be hard to deal with as a vegan. You know that once you open your eyes to the atrocities done to animals, seeing mass celebrations of their deaths becomes something you dread, not anxiously await.
I know these things, too, which is why I decided we all need an inspirational round-up to help get us through today. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, scroll through this post and meet 17 turkeys who have made it to a sanctuary and are now living their best lives as free individuals.
Their heartwarming stories are a gentle reminder of why we’re vegan in the first place; for the animals.
Unfortunately, what people know about turkeys come from what we are taught in grade 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 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 more fast Turkey facts from Woodstock Farm 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 a 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.
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
For all my vegan friends out there, Happy Thanks-Living. I am thankful to be part of a community filled with caring, compassionate, and passionate people who make the world better every single day.
Thank you for your part in it.
Feature Photo: Elizabeth, Antoinette, Arthur, Malka and Bianca at Farm Sanctuary / Jo-Anne McArthur, WeAnimals