Have a Cruelty-Free Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving coming up, of course I have to bring up the Turkey. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and guess what… I don’t even have to eat turkey to enjoy it. I know it’s tradition, but tradition doesn’t mean it’s right. The turkey industry is a very cruel industry and it shouldn’t be ignored just because of a silly tradition. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat on Thanksgiving too. I’m not telling you not to stuff yourself, just skip the turkey. Think about what that turkey went through before reaching your table.

The Turkey Industry

Every year about 40 million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving. Turkeys, like other animals raised for food, are raised on factory farms. Factory farms are meant to mass produce animals and maximize profit, but come at the expense of the animals. Turkeys are packed into filthy, overcrowded sheds with thousands of other turkeys, where they spend their whole lives. Their beaks are cut off without pain relievers to keep them from killing each other from the stress.

Turkeys are genetically manipulated to grow as big as possible, as fast as possible. In the 1960s, it took 220 days to raise a 35-pound turkey. Due to selective breeding and growth-promoting drugs, it now takes only 132 days. Turkeys grow so big and fast they often become crippled under their own weight and suffer organ failure. They can’t even reproduce naturally and must be artificially inseminated. After 14 to 20 weeks, turkeys are transported to slaughter without food, water or protection from extreme temperatures.

In the United States, unlike many other countries, there is no federal legislation  protecting turkeys (or other poultry) on the farm, in transit, or during slaughter; and most state anti-cruelty statutes do not apply to farm animals.

This is a video from an undercover investigation from Mercy for Animals

Having a Cruelty-Free Thanksgiving

As long as people continue to eat turkey, this nightmare will continue. The best thing you can do for them is to keep them off of your table this Thanksgiving. There is the option of the faux turkey, but if that is not something you would consider, just leave the turkey out altogether. Cruelty is not a way to celebrate. There are also other ways you can make your Thanksgiving cruelty-free that are not as noticeable changes, such as vegetarian or vegan gravy, stuffing and other vegetarian or vegan side dishes. Here are five ways from PETA to veganize your Thanksgiving and tips for a vegan holiday.

You can also make a difference by taking part in the Adopt-A-Turkey Program by Farm Sanctuary. Through this program you can sponsor a turkey living at Farm Sanctuary that has been rescued.

Like I said, I love Thanksgiving and love to eat. My favorite cruelty-free foods to eat on Thanksgiving are mashed potatoes, vegetarian stuffing and green bean casserole. What are some of your favorite cruelty-free foods to eat on Thanksgiving?

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Wool: Not a Fur Alternative

Hopefully, if you read my last post about fur, you are now thinking of great alternative fabrics for warm clothes. Before you make any purchases, I would like to remind you all that wool is not a cruelty-free alternative to fur. Since sheep need to be shorn to remove their excess wool, people don’t really see anything wrong with the wool industry. But, just like many other industries that depend on animals for profit, the wool industry has a cruel and dark side that needs to be exposed.

This video from PETA will give you an understanding of just how bad this industry is. Warning: Graphic Content

The Myth

Many people believe we are doing sheep a favor because they need to be sheared. This is a myth. Wild sheep grown enough wool to protect them from themselves from the winter and keep cool in the summer. They shed their winter coat naturally and do not need to be sheared.

Genetic Manipulation

Domesticated sheep have been selectively bred to have thick and heavy coats. In Australia, where 30 percent of the world’s wool is from, the most common sheep is the Merino. Merinos have been specifically bred to have wrinkly skin to produce more wool. Unlike wild sheep, they cannot shed their fleece and their coats are so thick that some die of heat exhaustion.

Mulesing

Due to the wrinkly skin which contains skin folds, the wool collects unnatural amounts of urine and moisture. This moisture build up attracts flies to lay their eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the sheep. This is called “flystrike.” To combat flystrike, mulesing is used. Mulesing involves slicing cresent-shaped slices of skin from the buttock area of lambs to produce scar that is free of wool. This reduces incidence of flystrike around the buttocks, but not for the rest of their bodies. Mulesing is all done without pain killers or anesthetics. Here is more information on mulesing.

Shearing

Sheep are shorn in the spring, before they would naturally shed their winter coats. To get all of the shearing done in time, it starts at a time that is not healthy for the sheep.  As a result, an estimated one million sheep die from exposure to the weather after premature shearing.

Shearers are usually paid by volume, not by the hour, which encourages fast work without regard for the sheep’s welfare. One eye witness said, “The shearing shed must be one of the worst places in the world for cruelty to animals… I have seen shearers punch sheep with their shears or their fists until the sheep’s nose bled. I have seen sheep with half their faces shorn off …”

Live Exports

Once sheep age and their wool production declines, they are sold for slaughter. This results in the cruel live export of more than 7 million sheep every year from Australia to the Middle East and North Africa. In Europe, the tightly packed animals are subjected to long-distance trips without food or water. Their final destination is frequently a country with minimal slaughter regulations.

What You Can Do

Like I said in my last post about fur, there are alternative options. These alternatives include cotton, synthetic shearling and other cruelty-free fibers. Polartec Wind Pro is made primarily from recycled plastic soda bottles and is a
high-density fleece with four times the wind resistance of wool that also wicks away moisture. Be aware of other types of wool such as mohair, pashmina, shahtoosh, or cashmere. No matter what it’s called, any kind of wool means suffering for animals.

Also, buy clothing from retailers that have pledged not to sell Australian Merino wool products until mulesing and live exports have ended. These retailers include American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostale, H&M and Limited Brands.

What do you think about the wool industry? Did any of this information surprise you?