Season’s greetings! Let’s compare…

Posted in: Vegan Living

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Galgos. Most people don’t know what these animals are and have never heard of them. They are animals in Spain that are used for hunting. The process of breeding, training and using them is egregious. They are bred by breeders in large numbers, with no regulations. The hunters go to these breeders and pick out prospective galgos. The ones that do not get picked are left on the streets or killed/starved as it is not profitable to take care of them. Some would say these are the lucky ones.

The prospective galgos are “care for” by hunters and kept in small enclosures while they are trained for hunting season. The hunt involves letting galgos loose in open fields and having them chase after hares (large, fast rabbits). It is less of a hunt and more of a contest to see which hunter can train the best galgo. Two or three galgos are released at once and the best galgo is the one that catches the hare (obviously the hares get the short end of the stick, too). Before the hunting season they are starved and malnourished so they chase after the hare with more valiance.

But now the hunting season is over and there is little need for the galgos. Since there is a break between hunting seasons the galgos are not kept around. At 2-3 years old, even though their natural lifespan is 12-15 years, they are killed by being tortured to death. The torturing is a Spanish tradition that brings good luck for the following hunt and washing away any dishonor from galgos that performed poorly. The torturous death includes, but is not limited to: burning them with acid, feeding them to fighting galgos (forced cannibalism), dragging them behind cars, starving them to death, burying them alive, skinning them alive, and hanging them. The hanging is called “piano dancing”, where the galgos are hanged close enough to the ground that their feet barely touch the ground and they slowly suffocate.

What are these Galgos? Spanish greyhounds. Yep, dogs. Between 50,000-100,000 of them are bred and killed every year for this “sport” and “tradition”. Animal rights groups continue to speak up but the Spanish government adamantly defends this tradition. Sounds familiar…

Turkeys. Turkeys are the traditional Thanksgiving meal centerpiece. We don’t only eat them, we are obsessed with turkeys. There is a Thanksgiving Day parade with a giant inflatable turkey, happy cartoon turkeys are all over advertisements and decorations during the holiday season. The entire month of November is dedicated to this one bird. Why? Because it’s tradition. Americans fantasize the relationship with the Pilgrims and the Native Americans, imagining they ate turkey during the first Thanksgiving meal and while giving thanks for their bounty and new friendships (completely ignoring the genocide, stealing, slavery, and rape that followed).

I have little to no quarry with Americans wanting to fantasize over turkeys on Thanksgiving; they are one of my favorite animals, after all. But I do have a problem with the obvious animal cruelty that is over looked. Over 95% of the turkeys consumed on Thanksgiving come from factory farms.

The process is as follows:
Turkeys are selectively bread in a manor the makes their breast way larger than natural. They modified turkeys so much that it is impossible for them to mate on their own. Semen must be obtained from a male turkey and then injected into a female turkey. The process is explained by Jim Mason as he worked at Butterball (one of the largest producers of turkeys in the world). His job with the males was to run around and catch them by the legs, then he would hold them upside down so another worker could masturbate them. The worker uses a vacuum pump to suck the semen into a syringe. The syringe is taken to the hen house to artificially inseminate them. His account states “You grab a hen by the legs, trying to cross both ankles in order to hold her feet and legs with one hand. The hens weighed 20-30 pounds and are terrified, beating their wings and struggling in panic. They go through this every week for more than a year, and they don’t like it. Once you have grabbed her with one hand, you flop her down chest first on the edge of the pit with the tail end sticking up. You put your free hand over the vent & tail and pull the rump and tail feathers upwards. At the same, time you pull the hand holding the feet downward, thus breaking the hen so her rear is straight up and her vent open. The inseminator sticks his thumb right under the vent and pushes, which opens it further until the end of the oviduct is exposed. Into this he inserts the semen using compressed air to blow it straight into the oviduct.” This is called artificial insemination. Forced impregnation against someone’s will is wrong, but it is just one of the terrible things these animals go through.

Once a hen is pregnant she lays an egg. The baby turkey hatches and quickly get mutilated. Their sensitive beaks are cut off, their talons are cut, and the males have their snood cut off. The turkeys are crammed into sheds by the thousands for the first 20 weeks of their life. The close conditions are filthy and cause the turkeys to peck at each other and develop a host of diseases and abnormalities. Their breast is also growing at unnatural rate which puts stress on their lungs, so much so that many suffocate. The ones that survive are violently loaded into shipping trucks and driven to slaughter.

At the slaughterhouse the torture continues. They are hung upside down by their legs and have their throats slit. They are often dunked into scalding hot water while still fully conscious. Then they are injected with saltwater (to increase weight), packaged up neatly, and sent to grocery stores.

Why? Because of a tradition. Over 45 million (100x more than the galgos) turkeys are tortured to death every year for a tradition. Millions of people gather around a table giving thanks for what they have, with a tortured bird front and center.

Like the galgos, turkeys are sentient beings. They are capable of feeling pain and suffering and are living creatures. They scream and run when they are in pain, but also nuzzle up when they are shown kindness. It doesn’t matter if an animal speaks Spanish, English, barks, or gobbles. The most fundamental thing is their ability to feel. They deserve the simple right to a life – free from torture and death. Don’t let tradition cloud your judgement of right and wrong. Please don’t support traditions that are built on the suffering of others.

Celebrate this Thanksgiving by sponsoring a Turkey at a farm sanctuary, saving an innocent life is more rewarding than taking one. Here are some sanctuaries:
Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary
Farm Sanctuary
Chenoa Manor

-The 15th Dalai Llama

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