Thursday, November 27, 2014

Turkey Eating: Ritual of Unintended Cruelty

The New York Times published today an interesting piece by Marie Myung-Ok Lee that is clearly intended to be warmly celebratory. It focuses on how American Thanksgiving rituals--the Thanksgiving turkey in particular--assumed cultural significance for an immigrant family facing hardship and discrimination in Hibbing, Minnesota. Lee writes of how the rituals of her family's "midwestern diets remained inviolate, on Thanksgiving in particular: [such ritual] gave our family’s embryonic American life structure. It became my parents’ yearly recommitment ceremony to America." ("Eat Turkey, Become American," New York Times, November 26, 2014)

The piece is clearly well-intended, and many readers have responded warmly, calling the author's portrayal of family life "lovely," wonderful," "inspirational." As indeed it may be, so far as the human connections are concerned.

I was not the only one to comment on the place of the bird in all this; I posted this comment late today:
As we celebrate abundance and family, let's think of all our fellow creatures--birds and animals as well as humans. If we buy and eat turkey, for example, we should know that turkeys from "conventional" farms and slaughterhouses (which is to say, 99% or more) are routinely subjected to horrific cruelty. Here are some examples, from undercover work carried out by the courageous Mercy for Animals investigators:
If we don't want to be complicit in this cruelty, we do have options. Those who choose to eat animal products can insist on buying the flesh and milk of animals who have been humanely treated, and whose slaughter has been as humane as possible. Or we can go vegan--great for our health, great for the environment, and one sure way to reduce cruelty to animals.
Happy American Thanksgiving to everyone!

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