Thanksgiving Without Turkey?
It works for me! Here’s why
“If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?”
Sarah Palin, Going Rogue
The former governor of Alaska poses an interesting question, one that I, unlike her, am not theologically equipped to answer. But I can say why I will not be eating any tempting (though divinely-made) critters this Thanksgiving.
I stopped eating meat for the first time at age 14, while watching a PBS special about the commercial hunting of baby harp seals. I ended up crying over my frozen dinner, ruining the special occasion, Salisbury-steak meal I had loved so much until then. Harp seals aren’t part of anyone’s diet, but I still didn’t think the seals should be killed, anymore than I thought my cat Boots should be killed. Animals were animals. I considered them my friends.
But I lived in a meat-eating household, and despite my newly found food militancy, I couldn’t maintain my vegetarian diet. I slipped back into “regular” eating for fifteen years, until my father died of a stroke. I decided I’d rather give up eating animals than struggle with cholesterol as he had. (And I was still haunted by that PBS special.) I quit meat for the second time. It’s like quitting smoking: you usually have to do it more than once before it sticks.
Yet I held on to the Thanksgiving bird, feeling truly grateful to the creature I consumed annually. I made it a point of preparing it myself so I could thank it respectfully for feeding me. Several years later, I gave up turkey, too, after becoming aware of how animals are raised for food. The turkeys I had thanked so much had probably lived pretty thankless lives as overfed, death-row prisoners that never saw the light of day.