Dear Mr. Knell,
My name is Robert Grillo and I am the executive director of Free from Harm, a nonprofit organization that empowers the conscious, vegetarian and vegan community. Freefromharm.org attracts a monthly average of 30,000 – 65,000 visitors per month and an active Facebook page with over 3,100 fans from around the world.
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I’d like to encourage NPR to promote animal-free dining ideas for the Thanksgiving holiday as well as respect and reverence for the bird that is the symbol of this national holiday: the turkey.
In the past, I have been deeply disappointed to hear NPR speak disparagingly and disrespectfully about these grossly misunderstood birds. Do you agree that media sources with integrity — NPR, for one — have the responsibility to challenge ridiculous stereotypes rather than pander to them? If so, then I thank you in advance for taking the higher ground by appealing to your audience’s sense of humanity, ethics, and respect for these highly-intelligent, highly-sentient, complex creatures.
I might suggest that you visit or interview sanctuaries like Animal Place, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary or United Poultry Concerns where some lucky turkeys have been granted a second chance at life, after being rescued from the poultry industry. These birds, given an opportunity to express their true nature on sanctuaries, have names and unique personalities just like our beloved companion animals!
Finally I’d like to propose that NPR go one step further — by revealing the truth about the miserable lives of commercially-raised turkeys today. This year, some 46 million of them will be artificially bred, quickly raised to market weight and slaughtered for just one holiday. Even turkeys labeled “humanely-raised” are denied their most basic natural behaviors and subjected to appalling conditions, such as:
- turkey chicks born at hatcheries are shipped through the postal service; many of them arrive dead or severely dehydrated or injured
- turkeys are de-beaked and de-toed on many “humane” farms of any size (even the Global Animal Partnership standards used by Whole Foods permit “toenail conditioning,” in which microwave radiation is used to damage the toes so that nails cannot grow)
- turkeys are slaughtered fully conscious, whether at a smaller farm, where they are hung upside down for the throat-slitting, or at a big slaughterhouse that accepts birds from any and all location. At the major slaughter plants, the birds are shackled upside down, run through an electric water bath that renders them immobile, and bled out with a mechanical blade — all while fully conscious.
- turkeys are only a few months old when they’re killed. “Heritage” breeds may be slaughtered at eight months, while their large-breasted counterparts are killed at four months. In nature, turkeys can live for 10 years and up (see http://animalplace.org/the-humane-myth/).
Again, thank you for your consideration. Here’s wishing you a happy and humane Thanksgiving!