Thanksliving: Feeding Turkeys Instead of Eating Them. ~ John Merryfield

Via elephant journal
on Nov 11, 2012
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Source: Jo-Anne McArthur

Olive loves the cranberries, while Rhonda seems to prefer the pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes.

Rhonda and Olive are two of the dozens of rescued turkeys at Farm Sanctuary that have been saved, instead of served, on Thanksgiving day.

Many people travel to farm animal sanctuaries, like Farm Sanctuary in Orland, California or Animal Place in Grass Valley, California, this time of year, to “turn the tables” and celebrate Thanksgiving by feeding turkeys instead of eating them. Rather than being on the table, the turkeys get a place at the table and feast on traditional Thanksgiving foods such as stuffing, squash, cornbread, mashed potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie.

No other holiday is as focused on the killing and consumption of an animal like Thanksgiving. With a dead bird as the center piece of the family table, thanks is given for our health, life and the love of our family and friends.

Forty five million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving dinner. During their lives, these birds are packed into filthy, unventilated warehouses with just a square foot of space per bird. They suffer burning in their eyes, de-beaking, de-toeing and extreme breathing difficulties, while many die premature death from heart attacks due to their genetically oversized weight. Even so called “organic” or “free range” turkeys endure brutal conditions in transport and slaughter.

The heart warming celebrations for the turkeys at farm animals sanctuaries have become a part of many families Thanksgiving traditions. First time visitors are taken aback by both the animals personality and their individuality.

One thing is clear, whether human or turkey, all of us seek pleasure and avoid pain.

Despite obvious differences among species, human and non-human animals are more alike than different in ways that matter. We love and nurture our children, we form friendships, we seek pleasure in our encounters and we lead rich emotional lives.

Some people within the sanctuary community have taken to calling this holiday Thanksliving.

For how can we be grateful for what we have if we kill an animal in the process of giving thanks?

Thanksliving implies that, only by respecting the lives of others, can we truly express the gratitude for the blessings in our own lives. Whether we call it Thanksgiving or Thanksliving, farm animal sanctuaries help us realize that, at our essence, we are all the same, including animals, and that giving thanks for your own life shouldn’t come at the expense of another’s.


John Merryfield lives with his wife in Lake Tahoe, California and works as a painting contractor. He is director of Vegan 1 Day.








Editor: Maja Despot


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3 Responses to “Thanksliving: Feeding Turkeys Instead of Eating Them. ~ John Merryfield”

  1. […] am honored that I get to make and bring this honey cornbread to my in-laws for Thanksgiving. I make them in my pumpkin muffin tins. It’s a great recipe from and I have […]

  2. Suzy Scully says:

    Thanks John, something to think about and share with my friends this day of giving Thanks when we usually do have a centerpiece TURKEY, you have moved me to start the trend to veggies as the centerpiece! You are inspiring! Thank you for saving us . . one kind word , over and over so that we finally hear it!

  3. […] The story of the real Thanksgiving is not all about smiles and turkey—although the turkeys don’t make it out alive either. […]