Thoughts on a Day of Giving Thanks

 Photo Credit:  Photo by  Andrea Reiman

Photo Credit:  Photo by Andrea Reiman

Thanksgiving in the U.S. is tomorrow and I have so much to say about it. I'll try to keep it short. I stumbled across the thoughts of Benjamin Franklin in regards to the noble bird who sits at the table's center for millions around the country on the holiday. 

Benjamin Franklin disliked the bald eagle as our national emblem. He thought of the bird as lazy and of bad moral character, stealing food from hawks and other birds rather than doing the work himself. The turkey on the other hand, he points out is a bird of courage. Though a bit vain (well, look at them - before their heads and feathers are removed - they're gorgeous.), he thought of this majestic creature as one who would not hesitate to pursue an attacker invading its territory - more like the American people than the eagle. 

Think of how much we value the bald eagle and find its mere existence sacred and humbling. It's a vision when we see one, representing patriotism and unity. That could have been the turkey, but instead of treasuring this magnificent creature for its own beauty and courage, we forcibly breed, raise and slaughter 45 million every Thanksgiving just for one meal. 

In honor of what? A tradition that marks a period in history where white men committed genocide against indigenous people to steal their land and call it their own? Is it intended for us to truly show thanks for these egregious crimes of rape and slaughter? Or maybe it’s seen as a day that we express thanks for whatever it is that lives inside of each of us, that which we cherish so much. Ironically, we have a funny way of conveying that gratitude when we decide to participate in a practice that takes that very same zest for life away from another individual. We’re repeating the same bad behavior of the past by taking what doesn’t belong to us, that of which is so sacred and valued by another.

Please think about the animal on your plate this Thursday. Who were they? What kind of life did they live? What interests did they have? What did their face look like? What did their heartbeat sound like? Ask yourself why you value the answers to these questions for maybe your dogs and cats, but not ALL animals. If the once-beautiful, courageous and handsome turkey on your plate is a sacrifice, the least you can do is take a moment to acknowledge the animal who fought until the very end, to symbolize your thanks. Or better yet, have a Turkey-Free Thanksgiving this year and start a new tradition without the sacrifice.

 Photo by  Peter Lloyd  

Photo by Peter Lloyd 

Here're some resources on how to enjoy a cruelty-free feast this Thanksgiving: