The National Thanksgiving Turkey, Revisited

turkey_pardonEvery year, POTUS “pardons” a turkey. Last year, Popcorn became the National Thanksgiving Turkey. Even though it seems like the two turkeys are battling it out, in reality, both will be spared from becoming food. Only one will be named the National Thanksgiving Turkey, though. Voting has already closed, and the winning turkey will be announced this afternoon. From the White House website:

Note: It’s all gravy, no turkeys will be harmed during the selection of the National Thanksgiving Turkey. After the pardoning, both turkeys will travel to their permanent home at Morven Park’s Turkey Hill, the historic turkey farm located at the home of former Virginia Governor Westmorland Davis in Leesburg, Virginia.

Here are the candidates for the 2014 White House Turkey Pardon:
Mac turkeyCheese Turkey
Mac and Cheese came from Cooper Farms in Oakwood, Ohio.

Isn’t it interesting that for the Thanksgiving turkey pardon, it’s acceptable to make animals relatable and cutesy, and to show off their impressive traits such as their signature sounds? Moreover, the turkeys have differing personalities. We can see how beautiful Mac and Cheese look. We’re supposed to be so impressed by their looks and personalities that we’re moved to want them saved from slaughter. This is problematic.

When it comes to our own Thanksgiving dinner, we stop anthropomorphizing turkeys. All of a sudden, people want to deny that the food on their plate had personality, had emotions, had sentience. Ultimately, we no longer want to understand or know about the food animals we eat. How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t want to know about it!” when you try to engage them in conversation about animal sentience and the inherent cruelty in eating animals?

So instead, we remain silent and carry on mistreating them, beginning with artificial insemination to finally slaughter. This is the life of your Thanksgiving turkey. Because of how we’ve bred turkeys for consumption, their lifespans are about 18 weeks.  During their short lives, bred turkeys cannot fly, and in fact, they can barely stand up. Sadly, the pardoned turkeys do not continue on for much longer.

Even more sadly, the White House will still dine on turkey on Thanksgiving.

I dedicate this post to Elsa, the sweet turkey at Farm Sanctuary who I recently “adopted” through their Adopt a Turkey program!
(Portions of this article have been previously published.)

1 reply »

  1. Elsa is so pretty. I featured Turpentine in my post about a compassionate Thanksgiving. While “no turkeys will be harmed during the selection”, 46 million are bred, tortured and slaughtered for Thanksgiving dinner.


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