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Being Consciously Thankful

Posted in: Blog by amy on November 22, 2011

It’s that time of year — the holidays — a time in which we reflect, slow down, celebrate and express our gratitude, love and forgiveness. Many of us have so much for which we are thankful. Even if we have faced financial and emotional struggles this past year, we are so fortunate in many ways. Whether we are appreciative of our health or our loved ones or simply for the not-to-be-taken-for-granted fact that food will be plentiful at our Thanksgiving tables, we are lucky.

And what are we to do with all of our good fortune? Are we to be as charitable as possible? Are we to ensure that our children understand what is going on in Africa? Are we to take time to honor our soldiers? Of course, any and all of those acts would be inspiring and beneficial. But, aside from that, there is something more simple that we can do this holiday season for our own selves, for our families, for our country, for our planet. We can wake up and bring consciousness to all that we do. Instead of participating in routines and traditions that have always existed, we can question those practices. We can take into account new scientific data. We can consider new facts. And, we can start doing so before we even sit down at the table for our Thanksgiving feast.

I’m not a vegetarian although I think I am slowly headed in that direction as I cut poultry out of my diet more than a year ago. There may be many benefits to consuming animal protein, and I’m not going to make an argument here and now that we don’t need any or that we shouldn’t consume any. As a matter of fact, I still serve poultry to my children, so I understand that change is not easy. However, I am going to make an argument that we should consider the amount of animal protein that we consume, and we should open our eyes to the practices that occurred as that food made its way to our plates. I love a good cheeseburger. I’m not suggesting that meat should be banished from our homes nor am I suggesting that I live my life with full consciousness and humaneness. But, I am proud of the baby steps I am taking. I do try to consume grass-fed beef. I am trying to be more educated and aware. And, I hope you walk beside me in becoming more enlightened.

Simply put: We must be aware. We need to know the difference between a family-owned farm and a factory farm. And, we need to know the massive negative consequences that come with consuming food from factory farms.

Have you ever considered the amount of turkeys that are killed in the United States each year? It is an astounding 300 million, and of that massive number, more than 45 million are killed simply to appear on our Thanksgiving tables. That is an extraordinary number, especially considering the fact that we don’t need turkeys to be a part of our diet. There was a time, long ago, when the food we saw on the table was caught nearby that day. But, now, of course, we have a plethora of choices and many ways in which we can get all of the necessary protein and nutrients that our bodies need to thrive.

So, on this holiday, just reflect. As you slow down, think about the abuse of animals that occurs every day. Think about the environmental devastation* that is occurring across our world at the hands of the meat industry’s tactics. Think about the deplorable conditions in slaughterhouses for animals and for workers. And, think about WHY you still can’t consider a Thanksgiving without a turkey on your table.

If you can stomach watching a video about the abusive practices that occur in slaughterhouses across America, I urge you to do so. And, if you prefer not to, than, at a minimum, please absorb the reality that horrible abuses are occurring. From employees stomping on turkeys’ heads to striking them with 2-by-4s, the abuses are never-ending. Although, if the demand for holiday turkeys decreased, the abuses would inevitably decrease and maybe even end, as well.

And, if the image of horribly mistreated turkeys does not tug at your heart strings, then consider the conditions that the turkeys once lived in (before they reached your plate) as that certainly will affect your health. Before you pour extra gravy on your chosen meal, consider what this animal has gone through. From being crammed into sheds and pumped with antibiotics to living in their own waste amidst ravaging diseases, this bird has traveled on a most tortured and painful road.

Again, this is not a plea for you to become a vegetarian. It is simply a plea for you to be aware, for you to wake up, for you to consider maybe eating one vegetarian meal a day, for you to care about positively impacting your world through your simple food choices. Hey, maybe this year’s turkey is already ordered and this information is reaching you too late. But, I am hopeful that you’ll think differently about the next holiday and that you’ll look most forward to that great sweet potato dish and pumpkin bread instead of the bird. I have a long, long way to go to do my part. I don’t know when I’ll give up a good Italian Beef sandwich. I’m not trying to idealize my actions, because I make poor choices with my food quite often. So, TOGETHER, let’s just be mindful. Let’s consider changing a tradition. And, let’s consider starting with a turkey-less Thanksgiving one of these years.


For more information or for some vegan recipes, visit: http://www.peta.org/ or http://www.gentlethanksgiving.org/


*For more facts about the effects of factory farms on the environment, read this brief yet informative excerpt from The Farm Animal Rights Movement below:

“Environmental devastation occurs as 10 billion pounds of manure generated by 7,300 turkey farms in 33 states ends up in our drinking water. Grain fed to turkeys is denied to millions of starving people in the world’s most impoverished nations. Livestock farming contributes carbon dioxide from deforestation and from the fossil fuels used in operations and slaughterhouses. More importantly, animals raised for food are responsible for immense amounts of methane (23x GHG) and nitrous oxide (296x GHG). According to the United Nations, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all transport combined.”

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6 Responses to “Being Consciously Thankful”

  1. Sue love says:

    Love it. Can’t give up that beef sandwich. Remember befor muse!?!? Xo

  2. Karen Citow says:

    The more you think about it the less inclined you will be to consume any meat at all. I choose to live my life by not demanding the death of anyone else’s. That means cows, lambs, rabbits, chicken, deer, snakes, pigs, fish, and the turkey too! Who am I to ask for those sentient beings’ deaths? They enjoy their lives and they feel pain when they are killed. You mentioned a video Amy; there are wonderful books too. Forget about that cow burger. Try a veggie burger with all the fixings….you won’t even miss the piece of cow. You’ll feel better physically and spiritually! And the earth will be thankful for you and your efforts. Feed the world, reduce global warming and be kind to all beings. That’s what being a vegetarian means. Enjoy!

  3. amy says:

    You are so right, Karen — that’s exactly the point: We need to THINK about it! I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me and encouraging me to go deeper in my thinking.

  4. telliott says:

    well I ate a lot of turkey over the holiday and I will say I consider myself a very conscious person. Thank you for giving me something to think about and consider. I can humbly admit before I read this blog I never gave it any thought. I will say that I ate a veggie red pepper sausage last night and it does make me feel more connected to grace.

    THANKS AMY- keep up the great mind and expressions

  5. amy says:

    Thank you for your comment, and, more importantly, for letting me know that my words encouraged you to be even more connected to “grace,” as you said.

  6. This is a great blog, Amy. I agree with you 100%. I’m not a vegetarian, but I do try to consume as little meat as possible as I don’t think it’s healthy to eat too much of it. I think of it as an indulgence. Eating a steak is like having a slice of chocolate cake or an ice cream sundae for dinner. It’s in no way good for me, and I accept that I’m risking my health by doing it. It’s hard to give it up all together, but there are small changes I try to make, i.e., eating a veggie burger (which I love!) instead of a hamburger. In any case, just being educated and aware about where our food comes from is a big step in the right direction.

    BTW – I’m a fellow DHS ’89 grad as well as a writer. We didn’t know each other very well in HS, but I wanted to say I enjoy your blog and your general philosophy on life. Thanks!

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