Meet Amelinda

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In one week, about 46 million turkeys will be on American tables for Thanksgiving. Not ours, we’re not meat-eaters. But our families and friends are almost all omnivores and each of them will be carving a bird.

This year, the Dirty Hippie gave me a sweet as pie gift for Thanksgiving: he adopted Amelinda from the Farm Sanctuary‘s Adopt-A-Turkey Project.

No, she’s not actually moving in with us. She’s a virtual pal. Amelinda will be living out her days on the grassy fields at the Farm Sanctuary. At the Farm Sanctuary, rescued turkeys will receive compassionate care and each Thanksgiving they have their own feast of pumpkin pie, cranberries and stuffed squash.  Isn’t she cute? In a turkey-sort-of-way?

In past years, the Farm Sanctuary‘s Adopt-A-Turkey Project has saved as many as 1000 birds from slaughter. I know – you’re thinking – who would want to save a turkey, right? Well, factory farming is kind of a huge issue for the environment. In America, around 300 million turkeys are raised annually for slaughter. Before those birds end up on your table, they eat, drink and poop. That’s a lot of food/water usage and a lot of poop. Literally tons and tons of poop. It has to go somewhere…

And no, sadly, most turkeys don’t get adorable names — or even access to sunshine. They live out their lives – about 14 to 18 weeks most of the time, indoors in conditions that even a turkey can’t cope with.

According to the Farm Sanctuary’s website, birds are packed by the thousands into warehouses. They are frequently debeaked and detoed – with no painkillers, to prevent fighting. Later, at the slaughterhouse, birds are hung by their feet and their heads are stuck in a “shock bath” – electrified water tanks to stun them. But the turkeys are still conscious when their throats are cut and sometimes when their bodies are submerged in scalding water. What a way to go.

You know, I’ve been vegan a really long time. Holiday meals have been meatless on my table for almost two decades. This looks easy to me. But if you build a whole tradition around one food, it might be hard to image a change for any reason – be it the environment or non-violence or anything else. I’ve seen folks glaze over when there’s mention of a meatless meal, nevermind a meatless holiday.

So I propose this… try adopting a turkey this year. Do it for fun. Do it because they’re cute. Do it because Ellen DeGeneres and Alicia Silverstone do it. Whatever works for you. Here’s a cutie named Antionette, she’s still looking for someone to adopt her!

Then take a few minutes and read about factory farm animals. Give it 10 minutes. Go forward with at least education about where your food is coming from and the long term impact of your day-to-day actions.

And then, no matter what you choose, be thankful. It is Thanksgiving, after all.

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