Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Let’s Talk Turkey; a living, feeling, animal

As a vegetarian, Thanksgiving dinner and its baseless tradition of eating fowl isn’t one of my favorite meals. And I am sure the turkey likes it even less.
Every fourth Thursday in November people like myself, who don’t believe animals should be eaten, are asked to sit at the spread on the dinner table and pick around the baked bird carcass just to fill ours plates with cranberry sauce, corn, mashed potatoes and everything else, which hasn’t been tainted by the juices of this once feathered friend. Why? Does eating a once sentient being have any basis other than what the meat industry has force fed us as a yearly ritual?
Every year in the U.S. between 250-300 million turkeys are bred for slaughter, which amounts to about 5 billion pounds of dead flesh. Their meat is valued at close to $8 billion dollars, so no wonder Americans are force fed turkey meat; the factory farm industry is making billions of dollars off of the holiday dinner table.
But what about the cruelty these sentient animals endure? Vast majorities are crowded into factory farm confinement operations where each gets less than three square feet of space. You just have to watch this short video to see how this holiday feast is actually a cruel deception.
Once their genetically engineered bodies reach market weight (which is an average of fifteen pounds) they are packed into crates and trucked to slaughterhouses. Once in this infirmary, they die a not so pleasant death, just to feed us.
So how did the turkey become a symbol of Thanksgiving Day gluttony? Wild turkeys, as colonists would have encountered in ‘New England” four centuries ago surely did not resemble the stuffing crammed bird many serve on today’s dinner table. These birds of yesteryear were able to fly, difficult to catch, and their tenacity had Benjamin Franklin suggest they be revered as our national symbol.
What was the Pilgrims first celebratory meal in 1621 and did they eat manifestations of today’s factory farmed animals? One of the first recordings I found was a celebration of harvest not a “day of thanksgiving”, which colonists would have viewed more as the end of a period of fasting and prayer.
This festival was for Native Americans and Colonists to give thanks for the bounty they had reaped from their farmed lands, and important members of the community gathered for a main course of local grown items which they themselves grew. They did not have national food chains to buy neatly cellophane wrapped processed food from, as we do today.
It seems there are many unfounded legends as to why turkeys are carved up by the millions every year, but none so far to convince me they deserve to die and be eaten.  So this Thanksgiving I will once again make my traditional vegan meal and eat it proudly knowing that no animal, feathered, furred or hoofed suffered for my dinner plate.

Care to sponsor the life of a turkey instead of eating one?

Some fun trivia facts about turkeys.

~The long fleshy skin that hangs over the turkey’s beak is called a snood
~ The color of a wild turkey’s naked head and neck area change blue when mating
~ Male turkeys are nicknamed “toms” while the females are called “hens”
~ When turkeys reach maturity they can have as many as 3,500 feathers
~ Faster than a speeding bullet--- wild turkeys can run up to 55 miles an hour

Friday, November 4, 2011

Eulogy for Cicely (November 3, 2011)

It is upon this day that beloved Cicely (cat) has passed into eternal Kitty Heaven.
Born twenty years ago in Milford CT, into a family who could not care for her, the then nameless kitten and her 8 week old litter mate brother were surrendered to the local dog pound (now known as animal control).
Known only as an impound number, she and her sibling were placed in a steel metal cage, waiting to be adopted into her fur-ever home.
Upon seeing her petite black and white furry frame (suspended from the steel bars), her new mother-to-be could not resist her cute-ness, and upon that moment the adoption commenced.
She was blessed with the name Cicely Fernandes (Haas) and for the next almost decade, shared her life with other adopted critters; her cat husband, Frodo (predeceased), cat sister Pebbles (predeceased) and 4 sibling pooches; Bitsey (predeceased), Dexter (predeceased), Rusty (predeceased) and May-Belle (predeceased).
Upon her human parents’ divorce her furry family shared two homes and adoptive father (William Haas) would often come to visit her and her cat and dog siblings at their mini mansion.
In her new home, Cicely would spend the next 10 + years being a foster sister to countless homeless and shelter animals of many species and gain one new adopted brother, Jack.
Cicely was the most curious of felines, always looking for a paper bag to hide in, bathtub to accidentally fall in, foster pooch to tease, toy mouse to toss around, window to perch in, sun to sleep in, closet to rummage through, heating vent to curl in front of, and occasionally being allowed outside to discover the wonders of mouse-ing, tree climbing, sneaking into any open car window, and (rare) bird catching. She loved to purr, have belly rubs, and didn’t mind nail trims.
Her last days were spent basking in the autumnal sunshine while the fall breezes tickled her whiskers, eating fresh fish, lounging on the front porch watching life pass by, and purring, all while being loved and adored by her human mom.
She is survived by her adopted cat brother, Jack, two outdoor stray porch cats, Snickers and Kit Kat and countless previously fostered critters.
Her mother of twenty years, Cheryl is heartbroken at the loss of her cat companion, but thankful for two decades of purrs and belly kneading.
In lieu of toy mouses, fresh cat nip and canned tuna, she asks for your commitment to microchip and spay & neuter your pets, to adopt your next companion animal from a shelter or rescue group and to help end factory farming.  
Internment is private and her ashes will share a special place in her mother’s home, with her other (predeceased) furry family members.

(A special thank you to Ash Creek Veterinary Hospital- Bridgeport CT, Dr. Kristopher Hansen and his compassionate & caring staff for helping Cicely cross over the Rainbow Bridge).