On The Turkey

Okay, I’d like a little clarification here.  First let me say that this is NOT an attack on anyone; I am looking to understand other peoples’ thought processes around the issue of the turkey…

Jane and I have read a number of things recently in which people proclaim that they will not sit down at a table on which a turkey will take center stage.  As vegans, the pride of place at our table will be shared by a Tofurky and a Celebration Roast.  However, if we were heading to a non-vegan household, we wouldn’t have a problem with a turkey at the table, we’d just make sure to bring something we could eat, and enough to share with anyone curious enough to try an alternative.  (If you haven’t tried it already, you might be surprized at how effective this tactic can be.)

Now before you start criticizing me, let me explain my thinking…  If 5% of the U.S. population (and I’m being generous here) is vegetarian, then 95% of the population eats meat. Even if they are “wrong” in eating turkey, it is pretty much the norm.  To expect people to stop practicing “normal” behaviors because you want them to (or even because these practices are wrong) is a bit unrealistic.  I’m not saying advocacy doesn’t have it’s place.  I’m simply stating that people who are engaging in behavior that is deemed normal are not necessarily going to be aware that their behavior could/should be modified.

But here is where Jane and I become confused.  What’s so special about the turkey?  Would you make the same distinction for a pot roast?  Or a rack of lamb?  Or a pork chop?  Or a hamburger?  Or a whole fish?  Okay, you don’t “see” the dead animal in a hamburger, but you do in a rack of lamb… or a roasted chicken…or the whole fish (they often come entirely intact… face included).

Yes, 45 million turkeys are killed and sold for Thanksgiving here in the US (according to the USDA).  That accounts for 1/6 of all the turkeys sold in the US.  However, those turkeys represent multiple meals, for multiple people, so it’s not as bad as it sounds.  But how many heads of cattle are slaughtered for consumption annually?  How many pigs?  How many chickens?  Is a turkey more important than any other animal?

I guess I don’t understand why the Thanksgiving turkey is where the line is often drawn.  Yes, turkeys are intelligent and have personalities.  But pigs exhibit the intelligence equivalent to a 3 year old human.  (Wow!)  And pigs raised for foodstock don’t live pleasant lives either; and they certainly don’t have humane deaths!

So my questions are these:

  • If you can’t sit at a table with a Thanksgiving turkey, can you eat at any non-vegan restaurant?  Because animal product is being prepared there, and consumed in proximity to your seat as well?
  • If you can’t stand the sight of the turkey carcass at your table, what about that rack of lamb?  Or any other animal-based meal presented with pride?
  • If you can’t stand the sight of the turkey carcass at your table, how do you handle the grocery store with lots of animal parts lined up, some of them readily identifiable as animals?
  • If you can’t stand the sight of the turkey carcass, what do you do at the sight of a lobster tank?

(Remember, I’m not attacking anyone…  I’m pointing out what I see as inconsistencies and looking for clarification.)

So if I don’t understand this reasoning, and I’m a vegan too… is it not reasonable to expect that your non-vegan loved ones will also miss the point?  And, if that’s the case, perhaps a bit of tolerance will go further in helping to promote the cause than a flat out refusal to be even the slightest bit tolerant, which is my point in writing this post…  Tolerance will probably get you more opportunities for dialogue.  And with dialogue can come change.

Regardless of how you are planning on spending your day… We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!  Or simply, a happy Thursday.  (We’ll be back with a post-meal post on Friday.)

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