Thanksgiving is a time to come together with family and friends and reaffirm your love and appreciation for them through the age old custom of sharing food. Typically Americans will eat more than 45 million turkey corpses on this day. Why do we think it necessary to slaughter so many innocent animals to show our love for each other? It is a sad reality of modern society that although there is so much to be thankful for we deem it necessary to carve up a turkey to express that sentiment. And at what expense? Americans are getting fatter and sicker year after year. The three top causes of death, heart disease, cancer and diabetes are all food related. Eating a greasy fat-laden dead bird is not going to help matters. But millions will do it anyway, because that is the “tradition”. We celebrate a human genocide by participating in another genocide on innocent animals.
I do not wish to labor the negative history of what Thanksgiving represents, because most people visiting this blog will most probably already be vegetarian and much more conscious in their eating habits. On this day, therefore, Food for Life encourages one and all to be consistent with the true spirit of Thanksgiving by sharing pure food with love and respect for all of God’s creation. Do not conform to the bogus traditions perpetrated by the masses, but rather stand strong on principle and make this day a day where you honor God and all of creation for what it truly is – our larger spiritual family.
Thanksgiving therefore should be day that highlights the importance of food in our life and how much it is critical to our physical, mental and spiritual health. By eating flesh on this day, we in effect defile this day and lose touch with the very essence of our life. For by taking the life of another we offend God’s creation and abuse the blessing of what human life affords us. Instead of eating a turkey, Americans should invite a Turkey to dinner and feed it as we would do with any other animate being that came asking for a meal.
The Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM) has this to say:
Abusing and killing an innocent bird betrays the life-affirming spirit of giving thanks for our life, health, and happiness. The nearly 300 million turkeys killed each year in the U.S. spend their entire lives crammed in large sheds with little room to move. Artificially inseminated and selectively bred to gain enormous amounts of weight, they suffer heart attacks, broken limbs, lameness, and death from their genetically-induced accelerated growth rate. Most of these same conditions apply to “free range” turkeys.
Let the madness and hypocrisy stop once and for all.
Prabhupada offered a reason, which he repeated in books and lectures. For example, he wrote in a Shrimad Bhagavatam commentary to 4.26.5:
In this age of Kali the propensity for mercy is almost nil. Consequently there is always fighting and wars between men and nations. Men do not understand that because they unrestrictedly kill so many animals, they also must be slaughtered like animals in big wars. This is very much evident in the Western countries. In the West, slaughterhouses are maintained without restriction, and therefore every fifth or tenth year there is a big war in which countless people are slaughtered even more cruelly than the animals.
In lectures, Prabhupada would express himself more emotionally, as in this one in Los Angeles in 1973:
The desire is never satiated that “You have killed so many animals. Now you don’t—” No, he will go on, go on killing, killing, killing, killing, killing, killing. He is never satisfied, “Now I have killed so many. No more, stop.” No, there is no stoppage. . . . The injunction is “Thou shalt not kill,” but he will kill and kill and kill and kill, and still, he want to be satisfied. Just see. The Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill,” and they are simply engaged in killing business, and still they want to be happy. . . . Therefore Krishna says, “Yes, you be killed by occasional world war. You must be killed. You have created this situation. You must be killed. You may be American or Englishman or German or this or that. You may be very proud of your nationality. But you must be killed.” This is the position. Ishvarasya viceshtitam [the will of the Lord]: “You have killed so many animals. Now wholesale killing, one bomb. One atom bomb. Be killed.”
It is days like Thanksgiving when this wholesale human karma is elevated to astronomical proportions, thus paving the way for more suffering. There may not be much we can do to change the collective karma of the American public, but if we choose to reject these bogus killing traditions we can at least feel satisfied that we did not contribute to the chaos that is being created day after day and we will be one step closer to perfecting our human lives and becoming self realized.