Thanksgiving is a difficult holiday for vegetarians and vegans in the U.S. Tens of millions of turkeys are mercilessly and violently slaughtered, so consumers across the nation can sit down to a feast that is supposed to be about gratitude and the celebration of life. Since 1986, Farm Sanctuary has sought to challenge this troubling and ethically inconsistent tradition, and to replace it with a compassionate alternative that is more closely aligned with the spirit of the holiday. We celebrate and honor the lives of rescued turkeys through our Adopt-A-Turkey Project. At our sanctuaries in Watkins Glen, N.Y. and Orland, Calif., we have Celebrations FOR the Turkeys, where we feed our rescued turkeys their very own Thanksgiving feast, while we dine on a delectable vegan meal. We also place rescued turkeys in good homes through our Turkey Express and encourage citizens across the U.S. to sponsor rescued turkeys who live at Farm Sanctuary.
A huge part of the Adopt-A-Turkey Project since its inception almost 25 years ago has been media outreach to educate the public about the way turkeys are raised on commercial farms and to encourage people to celebrate a compassionate feast. Over the years, I’ve done hundreds of interviews with various broadcast and print media, including national network television as well as local newspapers and radio stations. In the past, belligerent radio personalities have derided and demeaned our efforts to save turkeys from slaughter. One radio station even played turkey gobbles over my voice as I spoke, drowning out my words as the radio hosts joked. Turkeys, and those who speak out for them and other farm animals, have had an uphill climb. But, things are changing. With growing awareness about the many abuses of factory farming, there is a new mainstream support for reforming the system, and the tone of media interviews about our Thanksgiving efforts have shifted in a more positive and respectful direction. This year, the number of people sponsoring turkeys through Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-A-Turkey Project doubled over last year, our press coverage on the project increased exponentially, and vegetarian Thanksgiving feasts are now part of the mainstream conscience.
We still have a long way to go, but as members of the media and a growing segment of the population begin to acknowledge that killing animals is a serious issue, and unnecessary, we are turning a corner. For all who participated in the Adopt-A-Turkey Project this year, we thank you for helping to make this holiday a more compassionate one for all.