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Opinion

Better turkey treatment for tastier meals

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November 20, 2008

This year, the oxymorons over at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are calling for ALL turkeys to be pardoned, a drastic and unprecedented move that would result in a fraudulent “vegetarian Thanksgiving.”

As a hot-blooded, meat-eating, quite handsome male, that very phrase is enough to send me dashing for my bomb shelter and its reserve of American flags (set aside for threats to the national identity, like a “vegetarian Thanksgiving”). Now I understand PETA’s beef with unethical animal treatment. I stopped putting my cigarettes out on puppies years ago and I am firmly against the torture of kittens and monkeys.

But some of PETA’s tactics just rub me the wrong way. For instance, PETA sent a letter to Ben and Jerry’s a few months ago demanding that they cease ice cream production using cow milk. PETA’s suggested replacement? Human breast milk. See how that thought curdles your fancy. PETA doesn’t seem to realize how exceedingly delicious animals can be-the consumption of animal product is sometimes the only thing keeping me moving forward in this shallow life of mine. What can I say? A hamburger is a damn good incentive.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with consuming our furry critter friends. Thanksgiving, one of our treasured national pastimes, bases its legacy on the mass ingestion of turkeys and other poultry. Now when approaching a day of collective consumption like this, it is nevertheless important to think about the process of food production from an ethical standpoint. Here, I agree on some points with PETA.
They call for all turkeys to be pardoned completely; to be whisked to safety, lives intact, in order to enjoy a full, meandering turkey retirement.

While I think ethics are an important element of stuffing my face, I don’t believe we should go all out and give all these turkeys pardons. Why can’t we just treat them extra well before the slaughterhouse? Let’s give ‘em a nice ride before we forcibly submerge them into the frothing boilers and whistling pressure cookers of America.

Have you heard of Kobe beef? This kind of meat is considered a delicacy in Japan and is prepared using a strict regimen of care for the cattle while they are still alive. These tasty animals get the right kind of treatment while they’re alive: they are fed sake and beer, given daily massages and a diet based on health and wellness and they are brushed daily to make their manes extra fabulous. This high-class treatment makes the animal feel better about him or herself and results in a guilt-free, extra-tasty slab of red meat.

I think we should take the “Kobe beef” approach to Thanksgiving. Instead of pardons, let’s bring our turkeys a professional team of certified masseuses and manicurists to make their beaks and talons shapely, to give them spray tans, pedicures and wing and wattle massages. For those not versed in the finer subtleties of domestic fowl anatomy, a “wattle” is that really weird red thing that turkeys have right underneath their beaks.

I think if we treated our turkeys right this year we could satisfy both the meat-eating hot bloods and the apparently-still-nursing PETAphiles. Sure, the turkeys won’t get their pardons, but at least they get to live it up before meeting the diseased blade of the rusty beak-trimmer. Next time you see a turkey, buy him a beer and tell him “enjoy it while it lasts, Tom! See you next Thursday!”
Till then, you can find my huddling in my bomb shelter, clutching my American flags and praying for some red meat.

Joe Hager is a student at UW-River Falls.