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A vegan perspective on Thanksgiving
There are worse things in life than not being willing to eat a traditional Thanksgiving meal. According to local resident and vegan Carolyn Hunter Yane, the worst thing is knowing a living creature suffered or died to unnecessarily provide it.

There are worse things in life than not being willing to eat a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
According to local resident and vegan Carolyn Hunter Yane, the worst thing is knowing a living creature suffered or died to unnecessarily provide it.
Vegans are people who choose, by either free will or necessity, not to consume any animals or their byproducts, such as eggs and milk, for environmental, health and/or ethical reasons. Yane became a vegan by choice 17 years ago in 1999.
“I do not have the right to take the life of another living creature,” said Yane. “All animals have been given the same right to life as I have been given and they want to pursue that life free from harm just as we do. Once I understood that, once I accepted that as fact, then there was no longer a choice to make. I was a vegan. Becoming a vegan is one of the most compassionate decisions a human can make. You’re taking a stand that you’ll do nothing to hurt another living creature as far as humanly possible. That’s what being vegan is all about. It’s also a very healthy lifestyle. It is the diet humans are designed to eat.”
Over 280 million turkeys are killed annually for human consumption in the United States, with 45 million of those for Thanksgiving alone. Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans throughout the world and over 10 billion in the U.S. alone. Those figures do not include statistics on fish, crustaceans, rabbits, and other farmed animals for which USDA does not provide information.
“Consumption of turkey, or anything else derived from animals, is unnecessary and unhealthy for humans and absolutely horrifying for turkeys,” said Yane. “Turkeys, chickens and rabbits are exempt from even the most basic federal anti-cruelty laws. They suffer. Their existence is a miserable one. Vegans reject any notion that humans have some sort of human- or God-given right to cause that unnecessary suffering. Animals have a right to pursue their own lives. We don’t have the right to hold them captive.”
Donald Watson, Vegan Society founder, coined the word “vegan” in 1944. The word represents the principles of nonviolence, sociological consciousness, and empathy without restriction.
Watson was raised in England in a family that ate meat. He became a vegetarian in 1924 after witnessing the pig slaughter on his uncle’s farm when he was 14.
“I still have vivid recollections of the whole process, including the screams of course,” said Watson during an interview in 2003. “One thing that shocked me was my Uncle George, of whom I thought very highly, was part of the crew. I decided that farms – and uncles – had to be reassessed. The idyllic scene was nothing more than death row, where every creature’s days were numbered by the point at which it was no longer of service to human beings.”
Opened eyes cannot be closed.
“Once a person has an ‘a ha’ moment, an epiphany, you can’t go backward,” said Yane. “You can’t unknow what you know, however torturous the broadened awareness is. No matter how much we may want to convince ourselves that we make their lives nice and we kill them gently, there is no such thing as humanely holding captive or killing another who wants to be free and who does not want to die.”
Yane had a childhood moment similar to Watson’s, but in a slaughterhouse in McMinnville. The awareness continued on her grandparents’ dairy farm.
“I saw baby cows dragged away from screaming moms because the mom’s milk was for humans not her baby,” said Yane. “Those babies, if female, would be bottle fed and then raised as a dairy cow. If male, he is killed shortly after or within weeks typically of birth for veal. The dairy cow is impregnated over and over again because the farmer needs a resupply of dairy cows and a cow will only produce milk if she has given birth. The babies are always taken away. If one has never seen a mother cow respond to this, it is one of the saddest human-invented horrors to witness.”
Today, Yane is happy to educate people about what being a vegan means because there are misconceptions, such as deprivation of certain foods and the need to eat meat, in hopes they too adapt a compassionate lifestyle.
“I am a vegan,” she said. “I would be nothing else. I never feel deprived of anything. I eat everything I want to eat. It isn’t that a vegan can’t eat something. Veganism isn’t a diet. It is a choice to live compassionately and by default, not taking lives and reproductive secretions from others that do not belong to us is a joy and a celebration of life, not deprivation.”
Scientific evidence, said Yane, has irrefutably demonstrated we do not need meat, milk or eggs to thrive.
“Government health experts worldwide are finally catching up with the large body of scientific evidence demonstrating a vegan diet is not only a viable option for people of any age, but that eating plant foods instead of animal-based foods can confer significant health benefits, including reduction in incidence of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, stroke, and some types of cancer. We’ve convinced ourselves we need to eat meat. That is untrue.”
While all the information obtained by Yane during her years of educating herself on the subject of veganism and animal cruelty would be too much to digest in one sitting, she encourages people to educate themselves and consider making a change.
“It is time to re-evaluate turkey day and perhaps create a new meal tradition in its place,” she said, “one that is more consistent with grace and gratitude, and one that is founded on compassion for all living things. It is my hope people explore the many wonderful alternatives to turkey this Thanksgiving. Choose compassion over cruelty. You have the free will to do so.”