Happy Thanksgiving?

As a vegan, I find the Thanksgiving holiday to be full of contradiction. On the one hand, it is a time to gather with family and friends and collectively celebrate our wellbeing and nurture each other in difficult times. It is, in other words, a time to take stock and acknowledge that "there but for the grace of God go I," which is one way to formulate the idea of giving thanks. On the other hand, it is a holiday that is symbolized by the massive slaughter of helpless and innocent creatures who have done nothing to deserve the suffering that they endure. Interestingly, our culture has a strange custom of having an executive official "pardon" one turkey. For a particularly telling scene of Sarah Palin giving a press conference after having "pardoned" and given "amnesty" to one turkey, see this and watch carefully what is happening directly behind the chief executive of Alaska.

I had the privilege of recently visiting a sanctuary for farm animals (a place where turkeys, cows, sheep, chickens, goats, and pigs who have been left for dead after lives of torture are rescued and treated with kindness and compassion). One turkey in particular, Echo, was friendly and allowed me and my family to pat him. Another, Phoenix, was a little more frightened of us but approached and looked into our eyes. The pigs were friendly and bright -- two baby piglets ran around us and acted just like puppies. In meeting these sweet and social animals, I felt thankful that at least they have escaped the fate of the billions of others facing terror, pain, deprivation and finally, slaughter. As Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote:
When a human kills an animal for food, he is neglecting his own hunger for justice. Man prays for mercy, but is unwilling to extend it to others. Why should man then expect mercy from God? It's unfair to expect something that you are not willing to give. It is inconsistent. I can never accept inconsistency or injustice. Even if it comes from God. If there would come a voice from God saying, "I'm against vegetarianism!" I would say, "Well, I am for it!" This is how strongly I feel in this regard.
Posted by Sherry Colb