Letters to the Editor

Gentle Thanksgiving

November 19, 2011


To the editor: 

I’d like to propose a new tradition for Thanksgiving, one that is more in keeping with our holiday sentiments of kindness, giving and gratitude. The suffering of the turkeys on our tables stands in stark contrast to the joy of our family gatherings.

According to Karen Davis, president of United Poultry Concerns (upc-online.org) in “More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality,” the turkeys who greeted the original colonists were friendly, playful and peaceful. I have met rescued turkeys at animal sanctuaries who love to cuddle and who have distinct personalities.

However, turkeys today in factory and so-called “humane” farms are prevented from expressing their true nature. Without anesthetics, they have their toes and beaks cut off, their snoods pulled off and are crammed motherless into buildings filled with pathogens and sick and dead birds. The end is the same for them all: a painful, undignified, undeserved death at the hands of people who have a choice. 

Let’s give turkeys a reason to be thankful this Thanksgiving and have a cruelty-free celebration at which we can be truly grateful for the wonder, beauty and miracle of all living beings. If you need ideas for great nonviolent recipes for the coming holiday, just Google vegan Thanksgiving recipes, and you will have all you need.

Peace to you and to all beings.


Brock Masters 6 years, 6 months ago

,” the turkeys who greeted the original colonists were friendly, playful and peaceful.

Of course, you're entitled to eat or not eat what you want, but I call BS on this statement. We have wild turkeys today and they are not friendly, playful or peaceful. Now they don't attack us, but they do attack one another, other birds and eats the young of other birds like quail.

Does this matter? Not when it comes to deciding on whether to eat them or not, but it does matter in terms of factually supporting your quest to tell others what to eat or not eat.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

Actually, turkeys, especially when they are young, are quite affectionate and playful.

Check out this program that appeared on Nature on PBS this week.

My Life as a Turkey--


Brock Masters 6 years, 6 months ago

You're comparing apples to oranges. The writer wrote about wild turkeys raised in the wild not raised by humans. Kind of like a tiger that is loving to the person that raised it from birth but very different from the tiger raised in the wild by tiger parents.

Wild turkeys raised in the wild are not friendly. Some may display less fear of man than others, but that is different from being friendly.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

They may not be friendly to you, but they are friendly to and playful with each other.

Humans are even less friendly towards turkeys. Does that mean that humans aren't affectionate or playful?

Brock Masters 6 years, 6 months ago

I have observed turkeys in the wild in their natural habitat and dispute that they are friendly and playful. They are actually quite territorial and agressive toward one another. Keep in mind I am talking about wild turkeys bred and raised in the wild not human raised turkeys.

Bunny_Hotcakes 6 years, 6 months ago

Did you watch the entire episode? Turkey Boy turned on him in the end, as is his nature. Tried to gouge the guy's eyes out. If that's "friendly and playful," I'd hate to see "vicious and territorial."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

"Now they don't attack us, but they do attack one another, other birds and eats the young of other birds like quail."

Not that unlike humans, eh?

Brock Masters 6 years, 6 months ago

How is this germane to the point of the letter? Yes, humans attack one another and everything in between but what does this have to do with the point that we should not be eating turkeys because they are friendly?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

If eating turkeys can be justified because they attack each other as well as other species, that should make us really "what's for dinner." No?

Brock Masters 6 years, 6 months ago

I didn't suggest that a justification for eathing them is because they attack each other. I don't know if you change things around just to be argumentative or if you really don't understand what I wrote. I was merely disputing the LTE writers contention that turkeys were friendly and peaceful toward the pilgrams.

We don't need a justification to eat turkeys. They are simply food.

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago

They are animals, like dogs, cats, etc.

Would you eat your pet if you didn't have to do so?

Most people wouldn't, and in fact form stable, affectionate bonds with their pets.

Animals are not "simply food", in my view.

Brock Masters 6 years, 6 months ago

jafs, I respect your view and if you choose not to eat animals then that is your choice and would not think to try to convince you otherwise.

However, my view is animals are animals and should be treated humanely but they are indeed food - even dogs, cats and horses.

Just as I respect the right of people not to eat animals they should respect my right to eat them without the constant attack (not from you).

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago

What conveys the "right" to kill and eat them, in your view?

Brock Masters 6 years, 6 months ago

Interesting question. Certain rights are not bestowed upon us by the government. Most of the rights in the Constitution are not intended to give the people rights, but to acknowledge those rights given to us simply by being human. For example, the government does not give us the right to be free, it is an inalienable right that all humans have regardless of the government. The government does sometimes oppress people and takes that right away.

The right to eat animals is also a natural or inalienable right. Man, from the beginning of time, has been part of nature and as such, has killed and eaten animals. Animals do it and humans do it.

Man has the right to seek nourishment from the sources the planet provides to him. Further, animals are not human and have no rights except those given to them by man.

Animals have no natural right to be treated humanely. If they did then nature itself would be in violation of their rights. However, man can give animals legal rights provided they do not infringe upon the rights of man. Humane treatment of animals is a legal right and it does not infringe upon man's rights, but while the government could give animals legal rights not to be eaten it would infringe upon my right to seek nourishment from my environment which relates to my ability to be free.

Not a perfect explanation, but it will have to do for a Sunday morning :)

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago

I disagree with that.

In nature, with humans, as with other animals, there are no "natural rights".

All our rights come from our societies - the fact that we think some are "inalienable" is just language.

All beings have the "right" to seek nourishment if any do.

Since human beings have more choices and abilities than most other animals, we can use those capacities to choose less violent ways of living.

And, yes, it would affect your freedom if it were made illegal, just as many laws do, when there are moral issues involved - our freedom is not absolute, nor was it intended to be.

Thanks for discussing this, by the way, without getting all heated - it's something I generally don't discuss at all, because it just tends to upset people, which doesn't accomplish anything.

Brock Masters 6 years, 6 months ago

You're one of the few posters that I will discuss issues with because you may differ in your view, but you don't resort to petty ad hominen attacks. You debate an issue and not attack a person which is commendable.

It is hard to argue against what you wrote because it is your opinion which is just as valid as mine. I will only offer that our country and its Constitution was based on the idea of inalienable rights.

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago

Thanks, and you do the same.

I actually don't understand why so many people have so much trouble doing that these days.

Yes, but if you look at the language, it depends on a religious faith - "all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator...". Do you share that faith?

I'm not at all sure that it's necessary to believe that in order to create a society which protects certain rights.

Also, they used the language of "we hold these truths to be self-evident", which sort of means they couldn't find any particular basis for believing them.

One could do that with any set of beliefs, right?

labmonkey 6 years, 6 months ago

Of course.... the obligatory turkey-free Thanksgiving letter.

I take it Judy hasn't been outside Lawrence much lately. Have you seen wild turkeys (artificially introduced and inflated)? They are stupid animals that take away from others' habitat. Also, you really cannot eat the drumstick of a wild turkey (and Wild Turkey has no drumstick).

Not to worry Judy, I am buying and cooking two this year so I will just have yours.

Tony Kisner 6 years, 6 months ago

Judy, you have touched me. I will forego the frozen and go stright to the Wild Turkey that as you say can be so much fun. When the Wild Turkey has expired I will reach for the Old Crow. A decent bird for a guy on a budget.

Happy Thanksgiving one and all.

(lap primate - I am not sure about the drum stick but I have often felt the Wild Turkey had beaten me with something to cause my head to throp.)

verity 6 years, 6 months ago

throp---don't think that word's in the dictionary yet, but I rather like it.

definition: pain caused by indulging indiscriminately in Wild Turkey or Old Crow. Generally happens in late November, but can be experienced at any time.

verity 6 years, 6 months ago

2 - pain caused by upsetting other people with a bad choice of words.

Unreal 6 years, 6 months ago

Thank you Judy, for your thoughtful and compassionate letter. Not surprised to read all the typical moronic statements from the meat-eaters on here though. Take heart in knowing that more and more people every year are foregoing the dead carcass on their thanksgiving tables, as vegetarianism and veganism is spreading quite rapidly. Especially when amazing organizations like Mercy For Animals continue to go undercover and film these hell on earth factory farms and go public with the footage, like what happened this past week.

Unreal 6 years, 6 months ago

What are you Mike, a 6 year old? Grow up for Pete's sake!

fdouglass 6 years, 6 months ago


Thank you so much for sharing this, and thank you to the Journal World for publishing this letter. This is an important idea for people to be thinking about. In time most people will come to see that compassion, justice and fairness require that we shift our way of life away from the use/abuse of animals.

The responses this letter generated, are reminiscient of the reactions that proponents trying to end human slavery, give women the vote, and end child labor all generated. History is full of examples of otherwise caring, thoughtful, educated people who opposed socially progressive changes at first, but eventually came to appreciate that they were the right thing to do.

Today, we cannot understand how people of previous times, who considered themselves good and ethical, could have endorsed slavery, or subjugation of women, or child labor -- but they did. And many people who were progressive in one area, still had blinders on to other equally valid/progressive causes. (ie Lucretia Mott had to sit upstairs separate from the men at abolutionist meetings)

For those who might want to explore this issue further, here is an excellent article to start with: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/carnism-why-eating-animals-is-a-social-justice-issue/

And in case that link is not good -- if you google "Melanie Joy Why Eating animals Is a Social Justice Issue" , you should be able to find it.

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful holiday, and I am heartened to see more and more people marking the occasion with fabulous feasts that don't require killing --thus really honoring and being consistant with the idea of freedom for everyone.

turkeyfriend 6 years, 6 months ago

Thank you for your letter, Judy. As I wrote in my book, More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality, substitution of new materials for previously used ones to celebrate a tradition is an integral part of tradition. In the religious realm, if we can substitute animal flesh for human flesh and bread and wine for "all flesh" and the shedding of innocent blood, and view these changes as advances and not as inferior substitutes, we are ready to go forward in our everyday lives on ground that is already laid. If God can become flesh, then flesh can become fruit. If the Peaceable Kingdom is a genuine desire and a practicable project, then fake meat is the food to which dead meat has aspired, and the fake meat makers are as deserving as anyone is of the Nobel Prize for Peace. Chew on that! Happy compassionate thanksgiving from all of your feathered friends at United Poultry Concerns in Machipongo, Virginia. Karen Davis, President. www.upc-online.org.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 5 months ago

Having no turkey on the table is not too bad. In fact it requires so much less time to have a great tasting dinner.

Someone mentioned Tofu. Try that Hot Fiesta tofu by Central Soyfoods. YO it is so good. Now imagine black beans,black olives,sharp cheddar,broccoli and Hot Fiesta all wrapped up in a Tortilla with warmed medium and flavorful salsa. YUMO!

We do thanksgiving with all the goodies leaving out the meat. Somehow the big eaters still walk away stuffed... never complaining. And always ready for the leftovers. Homemade veggie stuffing unstuffed is sweet ...oh my word.

Judy Carman deserves respect for her perseverance and respect for life across the board.

In the meantime let's all enjoy ourselves.

classclown 6 years, 5 months ago

Actually, the turkey on my table was the only one NOT suffering on Thanksgiving.

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