Meet The Turkeys - Morris, The Man

From now until Thanksgiving, it's all about the turkeys, especially the ones lucky enough to call Animal Place sanctuary home. As you meet the turkeys, I hope you will reconsider the main course for the upcoming holiday. To help you, I'll be adding recipes and purchase suggestions at the end of each post.
Morris is the sole male turkey at Animal Place. He lives with Matt, the rooster. They make for an odd couple in size but not in personality. As my colleague likes to say, Matt and Morris are territorial. Which means, please do not stick your fingers near their beaks.

When Morris first arrived a year ago, he was not always so "territorial". He was downright friendly, the kind of turkey who would trill sweet nothings to anyone interested.

The story of Morris before Animal Place is not unique. Morris and four other turkeys were being raised for the California State Fair. None of the turkeys were seen as individual animals worthy of respect and compassion. They were "specimens" to be shown and slaughtered.

As the Fair approached, the man raising the turkeys decided it was too much work. These five animals were apparently so troublesome, so difficult to care for that he dumped them in the middle of the wilderness. I don't say "wilderness" in a vague, nonspecific way. I mean he dumped them in the middle of the woods and fields, left to fend for themselves.

The white feathers on production turkeys is a genetically recessive trait that rarely occurs in the wild. White is not a great predator deterrent. White feathers, however, leave the flesh of the turkey visibly  more appealing to consumers. This unnatural, poor adaptation is actively chosen solely to create a more physically appetizing flesh.

Morris and the four other turkeys tried to fend for themselves. Three of the turkeys died, killed by predators. Two, Morris and Marjorie (who you will read about later), lucked out. An Animal Place supporter saw the hapless birds and became their advocate. She rescued the two birds and drove them to us.

The two malnourished birds thrived under our care and both are healthy adults. Morris loves displaying his brilliant white feathers to anyone interested. The flesh around his face changes colors, depending on his mood. When it turns all red, Morris is especially angry at the world. When its red along the neck and blue/white around the face, Morris is in love with the world. They truly wear emotions on their sleeves, erm, snoods and wattles!

Here is a video of Morris showing off. No music, because turkeys sing beautifully on their own. His song is a mix of "hey ladies" to the female turkeys and a "i will be dictator of the universe" to me, behind the camera.

Celebrate this Thanksgiving for and in honor of the turkeys. Show your gratitude and compassion by omitting them at the dinner table.

Turkey Alternatives

I personally love Tofurky. I like to marinate it in an orange juice-soy sauce that is a mix of sweet and salty. There are a lot of marinades that enhance the flavor of Tofurky.This is probably the most accessible commercially available turkey alternative. The tofurky loves a grill as much as you do.

Field Roast has a Celebration Roast and Gardein has Savory Stuffed Turk'y

Or you can make a new tradition with a home-made main course. Think outside the box - butternut squash stuffed with wild rice, fanch-schmancy pants Tempeh Stew with Wine and Mushrooms, or homestyle Vegan Meatloaf.