It's turkey rescue season again! This year I am introducing you to the Baywatch turkeys, Pamela and Alexandra, named for the two Baywatch babes who grew into incredible vegan activist women.
Pamela and Alexandra Turkey came from the California slaughter industry. Bred for Thanksgiving dinner, they will be at ours -- as the guests of honor.
This is my seventh annual turkey rescue, so there's a regular drill by now. Having been packed together in cages, the girls come to me a little grimy so first off they get a bath and blow-dry. You might think I indulge them with a blow-dry because I missed my calling as a hairdresser, but I actually have to blow-dry them after their shampoo, because their thick waterproof feathers cover soft down underneath, which just wouldn't get enough air to dry without some help. It is a pleasure though, as the turkeys always seem to enjoy the warm air and gentle touch. In the video you'll see that Pamela even helped me and did a bit of grooming herself. But eventually, just like ladies in a salon, the turkey girls always get so relaxed that they start to doze.
After their spa I bring them to the kitchen (our only uncarpeted, easy clean-up room) for their welcoming party. The neighborhood kids just love them, with Frankie, featured in this video, being a regular visitor who has developed a real soft spot for turkeys. It's beautiful to see how gentle he is with them, and how they respond. I suspect that few people expect that from a turkey. I remember the first time I met a turkey, at Poplar Spring Farm Animal Sanctuary, I was flabbergasted when she hobbled into my lap and fell asleep as I petted her. And I was utterly charmed.
I was thinking about that a lot last week, when an article appeared about a restaurant in Los Angeles that was granted permission to sell dog meat. The article turned out to be a hoax, but you should have seen the comments from people who thought it was real. The dog lovers were outraged, while the vegetarians and vegans asked how it was any different from serving a cow or a pig. But even among the vegans, nobody asked how eating a dog was any different from eating a turkey. I guess that's because people have no idea how much turkeys are like dogs, how, given the chance to get used to it, they love to be held and petted and loved.
Knowing that, it is hard to also know about the horrendous conditions in which most turkeys are raised -- how they are jammed in on factory farms , with the ends of their beaks seared off and their toes cut off so they don't tear each other up in the cramped conditions. And it is hard to understand why turkeys, and all poultry, are exempt from Federal Humane Slaughter laws, which means they can be killed in the cruelest ways. They are commonly thrown into shackles and hung upside-down on conveyor belts to have their throats slit, all while they are fully conscious. There's a quick few seconds of undercover video from Mercy for Animals in the YouTube video above, which will give you the idea.
The good news is that there are so many other wonderful things we can eat for Thanksgiving. Tofurky makes a range of products for people who like the familiarity of a meaty main course, and the internet is jam-packed with "Vegan Thanksgiving" recipes for stuffed squash, harvest casseroles and so much more. We'll be having a vegan feast! And with a big bottle of Wild Turkey as our centerpiece you know we'll be having a joyous celebration.
After the holidays Pamela and Alexandra Turkey will go to Farm Sanctuary to live out their lives as ambassadors. You can visit them there! And you can support Farm Sanctuary's work and adopt,or sponsor, your own turkey for Thanksgiving by going to AdoptaTurkey.com. Farm Sanctuary will send you a photo of the turkey you adopt, which you can put in the middle of your Thanksgiving table. How's that for a wonderful way to celebrate Turkey Day?
Pamela and Alexandra think it's perfect. And they've asked me to sign off, as always, with the reminder that Turkey Day is a lot more fun when the turkeys are alive and well.