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Turkey Tale

A visit to a shelter that rescues animals from factory farms inspires one yogi to go vegan.

By Kerry Churchill


Two years ago, yogi Tricia Ritterbusch met her first live turkeys while visiting the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York, a shelter that rescues animals from factory farms. It's no exaggeration to say that the encounter changed her life.

"They were so curious and friendly," she says. "I leaned in to rub one turkey's belly and I felt her body melt into my hand like a dog's or cat's would." She's now a vegan and works for the Farm Sanctuary. The sanctuary (which also has a locations in California) holds a "Celebration for the Turkeys" the week before Thanksgiving. Volunteers share a vegan meal, then present the resident turkeys with a feast of their own.

Thousands of families across the country have also created a new holiday tradition by adopting turkeys. A sponsorship provides for a rescued turkey's care at the shelter, and participants receive a photo of their turkey, an adoption certificate, biography, and a one-year subscription to Farm Sanctuary's newsletter. Visit Farm Sanctuary's Adopt-A-Turkey Project website to learn more.

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Reader Comments

Eric Prescott

What a great little blurb.

What George Wyrick doesn't understand is that these turkeys were most likely discarded by the industry, commodities that they are (regrettably). Sadly, they were not valuable enough to the corporation that selectively bred and raised them to grow abnormally fast so they could become meat, an unnecessary product for human health.

Turkeys are morally no different than the cats and dogs we consider family, and I am moved that Tricia Ritterbusch recognized that and went vegan. I'm sure her yoga practice is improving as a result, as well. Certainly yoga aficionados can appreciate a connection with our fellow beings. It actually seems pretty contradictory to me to practice yoga and also consume animal-derived products.


The California sanctuary is just as inspirational. Once you meet the animals, it becomes morally painful to eat one of their brethren. It's hard to be at peace when you consume violence.

Thanks for sharing the story.

It would seem to me that for every turkey rescued an extra one would replace it in the line to the slaughter. There are better ways to end the cycle than to create these alternate 'uses' for Turkeys.

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