As I was walking through campus today I noticed that many students were rounding up their belongings – dirty laundry, suitcases, and other personal items, to make their journey home for the Thanksgiving break. For many this break and holiday are a chance to connect with extended family and celebrate, but this holiday also has a very gross nature to it.
In the United States alone, around 46 million turkeys are killed for the Thanksgiving holiday. The process includes a horrible process of debeaking and detoeing turkeys and placing them in unsanitary bins to be shipped out to slaughter. As it stands now, their are no actual animal protection laws used for turkeys, meaning they can be raised, treated, and killed in any manner possible. This usually creates inhumane practices of animal cruelty. As owners of large-scale animal farms, you may for a second conceptualize the pressure they may feel to push out huge orders for the holiday season. When people in authority are “pushed against the wall” with expectations, they begin to slip in conscientious practices of animal agriculture, and in many instances there is no actual standard for the animal agriculture industry to live up to.
Organizations such as PETA try to hold some accountability, but still, their radical approach can sometimes be illegal and do more harm than good. Where we need to point to is the effect that animal agriculture not only has on animal cruelty acts, but on the immense effect it takes on our environment. On campus, a professor named Ian Feinhandler of the Human Geography department discussed such implications in a class I took with him last year. Through the template of a final project, we examined the carbon footprint that animal agriculture has on the planet. Such data demonstrated that reducing ones meat intake to once a week or bi-weekly had a far greater impact than switching from a car to a bicycle.
Will I be eating turkey this holiday season you may ask? I just may, but since becoming more aware of these environmental implications I have drastically adjusted my diet to include a more plant-based diet.