Wednesday, November 26, 2008

When I was little...

...I would get those bunny-shaped chocolates at Easter and feel guilty eating them (because they looked like bunnies), and they would end-up staying in the freezer for weeks after Easter...until my mother threw them away, or my father ate them. Now, I have never eaten rabbit meat, and when my dog Lola followed her terrier instincts and killed about four of them a few months ago, I was very upset.

(I still don't eat chocolate bunnies at Easter time...I stick to mini-Cadbury eggs. I am really glad the Easter/Passover comes but once a year...because if it came more than once, I would do nothing but eat mini-Cadbury eggs and watch The Ten Commandments. I'd have no teeth...and be exposed to way more Charleton Hesten than one should ever be in a lifetime. Actually, they released red-and-green version of those mini-eggs a few Christmases ago, but I am yet to find them again. I am starting to think it was nothing but a lovely dream.)

With Thanksgiving being tomorrow, chocolate turkeys are on my mind.

I am a vegetarian...but not one of those vegetarians that throw paint on fur-wearers and lecture strangers. Most people don't even know that I am a vegetarian until it directly comes-up. I gave-up meat quite gradually...and I did it for ethical reasons. I would think about pigs and cows and get, pork and beef were the first to go...and then chicken...and then...turkey.

I really used to like turkey. I used to go to the Pig n' Whistle for their turkey, goat cheese and apple wrap, and when Bennigans was around, I could have lived on their Turkey O'Toole, which was served on a pretzyl roll with lots of mustard and was SO GOOD.

For some reason, I never connected very emotionally to chickens and turkeys, so I was able to eat them with the least amount of guilt...and then I realized, "I'm a huge hypocrite, aren't I? Why do I value cows and pigs more than birds?"

And so ended my relationship with poultry.

(Side note...for some reason, many people don't consider turkey and chicken to be meat. I would love to know exactly WHAT kind of a tree these birds grow on, if that's the case.)

There are chocolate turkeys everywhere this time of year.

And not just chocolate turkeys...but turkey decorations...turkey balloons...stuffed animal turkeys...and, of course, those little handprint turkeys that kids make, complete with a smiling face on them.

It makes me wonder...people (and I'm not just talking about little kids) DO realize that over five million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving every year? And yet, we portray them as these happy, lovable, SMILING creatures that can't wait to get slaughtered.

I remember this movie that used to be on The Disney Channel when I was a kid (seriously, whatever happened to The Disney Channel? When we were little, it was all about Road to Avonlea and all those great original movies, and now, nothing against Hannah Montana and those twins that live in the Plaza Hotel...or whatever goes on in that show...a cheap rip-off of Eloise, I call it!)...
A teenage boy is torn between his love for an injured Canadian goose that he has found and his agreement to fatten and kill it for an approaching Thanksgiving dinner for his neighbors.

Now, even though this movie is about a goose and not a turkey, I think it's on to something...if everybody had to raise their own Thanksgiving turkey, would over five million STILL be killed and sent to supermarkets every year?

And why do we need to display smiling turkeys all over the place around Thanksgiving time? Do people have some kind of guilt, deep down, and like to pretend that these birds are just smiling away at the thought of being slaughtered?

I was telling a coworker the other day how I actually DO miss turkey quite a bit, and he told me, "You know, the bird has already been killed and is sitting on your family's table...if you eat some, it won't change anything!"

But I don't think I ever could...just as I never felt right eating those chocolate bunnies when I was a kid, I don't think I'll ever feel "right" eating meat again.

And on that note...Happy Thanksgiving!

Diana Rissetto