November 19, 2012

A Very Happy Thanksgiving for Daisy

Families all over the country will sit down this November 22nd to a “turkey feast.” In fact, around 40 million turkeys will be killed this year in order to meet the Thanksgiving day demand. But at Catskill Animal Sanctuary in New York’s Hudson Valley, a very lucky turkey will celebrate Thanksgiving along-side humans, not on their plates.

Meet Daisy. Daisy was being raised for food at a turkey farm when a concerned neighbor convinced the farmer to let her live. Now, what to do with the rescued turkey? In stepped Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS), a farm animal rescue that takes in needy horses, chickens, cows, pigs, and yes, turkeys, among others.

Daisy has been living at CAS for four months now. At the 110-acre Sanctuary, Daisy spends her days with Declan, a male turkey, in their spacious yard. This summer and fall, during CAS weekend tours, Daisy and Declan greeted visitors while the CAS staff educated the guests about the lives of turkeys.

“Turkeys raised for meat live wretched lives,” explains Kathy Stevens, who founded CAS eleven years ago. “I can't reconcile eating beings who want their lives just as much as I want mine. Turkeys are delightful animals!” She recalls Ethel, the singing turkey; Blue, who loved to climb into people’s laps; and Henrietta, who had a remarkable friendship with a crippled goat named Atlas, and whose favorite days of the week were tour days. “She always wanted to be in the middle of the action,” Stevens says, and would generally accompany tour groups through the barn.

Stevens and most of the CAS staff will eat a vegan Thanksgiving this year, citing concern for the animals and the planet, and reminding folks that a vegan diet uses a tiny fraction of the natural resources required for a meat and dairy-based diet.

In order to help others on their food journey, CAS teaches vegan cooking classes and shares vegan recipes on their website. Their recent Vegan Thanksgiving cooking class filled to capacity, as nearly all their classes do.  According to their chef, Linda Soper-Kolton, the hands-on classes show folks that “vegan cooking can be healthy, absolutely delicious, and easy to prepare.”

Visit the Sanctuary's website,, for Thanksgiving recipes (including Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna, Squash and Pear Soup, and Pumpkin Pie) and for more information about the animals that they have rescued.

This Thanksgiving, instead of being on someone’s plate, Daisy herself will enjoy an extra special (vegan) meal, served to her by caregivers that see her as much more than a centerpiece.

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