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Last Updated: Nov 26, 2008 - 5:33:57 PM 

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Saturation Point

Let’s Talk Turkey
By Karey Burek
Nov 27, 2008 - 5:33:11 PM

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Oh, what to do, what to do. The traditional turkey dinner of my past is catching up with what my current food values have become.  As you may or may not recall, I took the 30-day veg pledge and tried to become a vegetarian not too long ago. I must admit that I don’t think I even lasted 30 days before I wanted to sink my teeth into some kind, any kind of meat.  Since then, I have trained myself to snack on non-meat items and fill my days with nuts, grains, breads, fruits and vegetables. But the meat calls to my belly sometimes and I do end up eating a little bit of meat every week. I am doing what says, taking my time and doing what works for me—it is hard to change overnight.
This holiday is one of those times that my mouth is salivating over the prospect of juicy turkey fresh from the oven, but my recent education about how that bird ends up on my table has got me a little queasy.  Everyone, every single person, has the right to question where their food comes from and how it ends up on the table or in the food store. Television programs such as “Unwrapped” and “How’d That Get On My Plate” have helped to demystify, in a way, how our food is made, processed, shipped, stored and ultimately purchased by us as the consumer. However, if you want to know about your meat, my good friends at PETA have the most controversial and unnerving information out there dealing with the subject. I too would rather wear nothing than wear fur and would be a part of that campaign in a heartbeat, but giving up my meat eating habits is something entirely different.
The question I posed to myself was why should I NOT eat turkey on the Turkey-Day holiday? After what became an endless Internet search, I found that a lot of people are against eating turkey in general, and especially during the holiday season because that is when most people eat this type of meat. With what we know about slaughter­houses, one of the main reasons people are against meat eating, including turkey, is due to pain and cruelty endured by the animal to provide us with a meal. Information that I came across made me take pause and consider once again, my own meat-eating behavior.
For me it is easy to forget the processes that food goes through to get on my dinner plate.  It is easy for me to go to the store and grab some chicken breasts or steak to cook up and not bat an eye. However, if I had to look in the eyes of the cow I was going to eat or the chicken I had chosen, I would be the first one to try to set that ­animal free.  For instance, I was dining at a fine restaurant in ­Tampa, celebrating my dad’s birthday when the waiter ­arrived to tell us the evening specials. He rolled up a cart to show us the choice cuts of meat and then lifted up a lobster the size of my torso; it started struggling. My sister-in-law let out a surprised scream and my mouth dropped open in surprise and disgust at the live animal clawing at the air. I had all I could do to stay in my chair because what I really wanted was to shove the waiter aside, grab the lobster and make a daring ­escape, saving my crustacean buddy from the pot. Alas, I did nothing but get more nauseated throughout the evening and vow to never eat at that restaurant again.
One of the main reasons I may stick to eating only the sides this year is because just like that ­lobster, turkeys have character. ­According to Tom Savage, an ­Oregon State University poultry scientist ­quoted on, turkeys are very ­social and playful birds who genuinely enjoy the company of others. They recognize and are aware of the world around them, including ­human visitors. Also, Savage states that anyone who spends time with turkeys at farm sanctuaries will learn that turkeys have individual personalities just like dogs and cats. Strange, but apparently true.
There are vegetarian alternatives to the actual turkey meat in forms of Tofurky, which probably would be comparable to a veggie burger or Chic ‘n’ strips (both non-meat products) that I rather enjoy and find tasty. Also, you can skip the turkey and tofurky altogether and just fill up on a meal of veggies, stuffing, cranberries, potatoes and bread, along with pumpkin pies and tasty desserts—sounds filling. If you must get a turkey for your turkey-day dinner, then go ­organic and free range all the way to avoid any added antibiotics or hormones. It is quite ­pricey, but well worth the health of those sharing a meal on this day of thanks. I think my Thanks­giving Day toast may go something like, “thanks to those who make me the character I am, in remembrance of my loved ones who are no longer with us, and peace and kindness to all animals great and small.”
Happy Thanksgiving.

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