Turkey-abstinence on Thanksgiving a humane way to spend the holiday

There is a stuffed bird carcass lying headless in the middle of your dining room table. It’s the only remains of an animal whose lifetime was spent immobilized in disease-ridden confinement, force-fed antibiotics and a subject of physical violence. Happy Thanksgiving.

Abstaining from turkey consumption on Thanksgiving is a way to protest inhumane practices by denying the industry your money and your mouth.

According to a 2010 investigation by the Humane Society of the United States, young, sick turkeys are often fed through a meat grinder, alive.

Other findings included turkeys being hung by their necks on conveyor belts while a laser burns off part of their beaks. During the transportation process alone, turkeys are thrown into crates, often breaking their bones. Many die en-route to the slaughterhouse in freezing weather conditions, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The survivors’ throats are slit while hung upside down by their feet.

Conditions while the animals are alive are equally abhorrent.

Their beaks are cut off so they won’t injure each other, and they are force-fed growth hormone. They live in cramped spaces so small they cannot stretch out their wings.

These are the same conditions that bred mad cow disease, and if your turkey dinner ate chemicals and stood in its own feces during the course of its life, you will be eating chemicals and feces as well.

Most turkeys and traditional farm animals such as cows, pigs and chickens are manufactured, not raised, in industrial, assembly line-like settings because it saves time and money for meat corporations.

It is no secret that the turkey industry is busier now than at any other time of year and many Americans aren’t blithely unaware of the meat industry, as they once were. Despite the unveiling of meat industry practices in novels and documentaries such as Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals” and Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” the US Census Bureau estimated that $3.6 billion worth of turkeys were “produced” during 2009.

Thanksgiving is a holiday based on tradition and gratitude. There is nothing traditional about meat consumption in the modern age. Animals are no longer hunted in the fields or even bred on farms; they are manufactured in factories and killed on an assembly line.

Apathy is the order of the day, and hey, they were made to be killed, right?

According to a survey conducted by the Humane Society, nearly 40 percent of American households own a dog or a cat as a pet, yet Lassie is hardly ever on the menu. Why eat one kind of animal and not another?

There are more humane, healthier alternatives such as Tofurkey, or just serving other vegetable and starch dishes. Giving up this year’s Thanksgiving turkey will help tell the meat industries that their inhumane practices are not acceptable by the American public.