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An Invitation to Create a New Holiday Tradition and a Happy Thanksgiving-Because Every Turkey is an Individual!
While a significant number of people think of themselves as animal lovers, there is a persistent barrier getting those same people to acknowledge turkeys are sentient animals—just like their cat, dog, and bird companions. Turkeys, like companion animals, experience pleasure and suffering. Also like companion animals, turkeys possess desires and preferences; and each one is a unique individual. If asked to distinguish individual turkeys among thousands crammed into a shed or barn, most people would “see” little difference between the animals. And yet, each bird is a unique individual.
The National Turkey Federation estimates Americans eat approximately 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving day. In what promises to be a bountiful project in the making, artist Cheryl Miller invites members of the public family to “join her at the table” to create an artistic remembrance of every single one of those 46 million birds.
While working at a sanctuary for farm animals, Ms. Miller experienced a Thanksgiving like no other. Like most Americans, Thanksgiving was a major celebration for the farm’s staff—but with a twist. Staff would prepare and serve the resident turkeys a feast of greens, cranberries, squash, and pumpkin pie. “It was so delightful for me to watch the honored guests gather round, cluck, and peck at the offering prepared just for them,” explains Ms. Miller. “It was without question, one of my favorite and most memorable Thanksgivings since becoming a vegetarian in 1980.”
Following that experience, the artist created a personal and meaningful tradition to celebrate the holiday. For the past 18 years she has painted turkey portraits on Thanksgiving day. Beginning in 2013, she took the tradition a step further. The artist intends to create, by inviting participation from guests, a mini portrait for each of the 46 million turkeys destined for holiday tables in a single year.
Everyone is invited to join us at the 46 Million Turkeys Thanksgiving table and spread compassion. You do not have to be an artist to participate. Go to the “Guidelines” page to learn more and be counted!
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