Last year I asked you to give animals something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving by cutting meat out of your diet. I argued that eating turkey for traditions sake is just plain stupid. This year I'm trying a new approach. A lot of people who eat meat have an amazing way of disassociating the cute animals they see on farms with the processed food that ends up on their plate. With the hopes of providing a friendly reminder that your food had a face, I took a trip to a farm in upstate New York where rescued farm animals go to live out long and healthy lives.
My main reason for taking the excursion was to see what life is like for the lucky turkeys who aren't forced to endure the terrible conditions in U.S. slaughterhouses. After just a few hours at the farm I could tell these guys had a lot personality. They are extremely social and are always seen together, earning them the nickname "The Three Tenors". One of the turkeys even conspires with other animals at the farm to sneak food when the caretakers aren't looking. He must be the Pavarotti of the group (too soon?). The turkeys are given free roam of the farm, and they take full advantage of that freedom. During our visit these guys wobbled in and out of their barn several times, soaking up the sun when they wanted to and coming in to the warm shelter when it got too cold.
There are so many other fortunate animals at the farm, including three adorable baby lambs who have found a warm spot in the family home. These beauties were rescued after a man purchased 14 of them to give to his daughter. You don't have to look too closely to see the huge holes the seller clipped into their ears for tagging purposes.
And no trip to a farm would be complete without pigs. The pigs at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary have some amazing stories. Some of them come from Maryland, others were rescued all the way from Colorado. They may not be as bubbly and cute as Babe, but they are still sweet animals who love belly rubs and are eager to show their appreciation for all the love and attention they get at the farm.
For the full stories of all the animals at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, check out their great website. Special thanks to Doug and Jenny for opening up their wonderful sanctuary to HuffPo and Amber for giving us such a great tour.
Now if you're wondering what happens to the turkeys who aren't lucky enough to end up in a place like Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, well, their fate is not so pleasant. Many of these animals suffer extreme abuse before they are killed, and no one is held accountable because birds are excluded from coverage under the only federal law designed to protect animals during slaughter, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA). The following footage is from a 2006 undercover investigation conducted by PETA at a Butterball slaughterhouse. If you find it hard to watch the clip all the way through, stop eating turkeys! If you can get through it without feeling some compassion for these animals, do the world a favor and do not procreate.