November 9, 2010
Thankful, Courageous Birds
A lucky few turkeys enjoy sanctuary, but humane feasts can help many more
Thanksgiving is hardly a time at which most turkeys can be grateful. Yet for the lucky turkeys at The HSUS' Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, every day brings a fresh reason to give thanks—and due to our evolving food choices that increasingly include vegetarian feasts, this Thanksgiving brings more hope for these rescued animals' factory-farmed brethren than ever before.
Birds on the Range
Fourteen turkeys are fortunate enough to call Black Beauty, The HSUS' sprawling 1,200-acre Texas sanctuary, home. Rescued from a hoarder situation nearly four years ago, these birds are now between three and seven years old. They enjoy exploring their pasture, dust bathing, bickering over bugs, stretching their wings, and napping in the soft grass.
The turkeys occupy a barn and two spacious outdoor yards, and they've got some pretty unusual friends. One of the birds' pastures faces the airy chimpanzee enclosure, and the other adjoins a pasture where a zebra, camel, addax, and eland roam in the Texas sunshine.
It's an easy existence to be sure, and it's a far cry from the fate of the tens of millions of turkeys raised on factory farms.
These birds endure a bleak existence, one often filled with suffering due to health problems and ended by slaughter where they have virtually no protection from even the very modest requirements of the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.
But things are indeed changing for the birds who historically have been viewed as nothing more than a meal. Martha Stewart has enjoyed a vegetarian Thanksgiving spread. And media such as The New York Times, CNN, and The Wall Street Journal have covered the increasing popularity and astounding array of vegetarian foods available for the holiday.
This high-profile exposure is just one more piece of evidence that meatless meals—whether enjoyed at a restaurant or cooked at home—are fast becoming a tradition.