iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Marc Bekoff

GET UPDATES FROM Marc Bekoff
 

The Thanksgiving Day Massacre: Life in a Tiny House of Horrors

Posted: 11/17/11 01:25 PM ET

I know many of you have heard this questions over and over again, "Why kill turkeys to celebrate Thanksgiving?" They say repetition is boring conversation but I feel it's essential to ask this question repeatedly, because there really is no reason at all to slaughter sentient beings in the name of a holiday, and turkeys surely are sentient beings. Dr. Ian Duncan, a world renowned expert on the behavior of food animals, notes that based on detailed scientific research, "It is indisputable that poultry are capable of feeling pain. All poultry species are sentient vertebrates and all the available evidence shows that they have a very similar range of feelings as mammalian species. Poultry can suffer by feeling pain, fear and stress." More information about the lives of turkeys can be found here. Turkeys are also very smart and have distinct personalities. People used to write off fish as being unfeeling "lower" animals but we now know, also based on solid scientific research, that they are sentient and feel pain . The more we study other animals the more we learn about how complex their lives are, even for animals previously thought to be unfeeling creatures.

Holidays should be times for deep reflection. Ponder these facts. More than 45 million turkeys are killed every Thanksgiving. More than 300 million are killed annually. Before they are mercilessly slaughtered they are kept in the most inhumane conditions, in tiny battery cages, a tiny house of horors, where they are cramped together so tightly they can't move or get away from one another. As a result there are numerous fights among normally peaceful individuals and they suffer from massive injuries and a variety of diseases. When one eats a turkey carcass they are eating a genetically engineered animal and also consuming pain and misery. To keep turkeys from injuring one another their toes and beaks are cut off with hot blades with no anesthetic or analgesic, and when their throat is slit many are still conscious. We know chickens feel empathy and there is every reason to believe that turkeys do too. I know no one would treat their dog like turkeys are treated from birth to their heinous road to death.

There are numerous tasty non-animal alternatives and even if you don't think they're as yummy as a dead bird, is it really asking too much to give up something that isn't a necesssary part of your diet? I don't think so. In order to make changes in the way we live, including who, not what, we eat, we occasionally need to leave our comfort zones. By forgoing turkey you can add more compassion to the world. You can even adopt a turkey. I urge everyone to try to make this simple change right now, for this coming holiday. I can't imagine you wouldn't feel better about yourself. Thank you for trying.