A vegan activist will run from sunrise to sunset on the winter solstice in memory of the turkeys slaughtered for this year’s Christmas dinner.
Rory Cockshaw, 21, an animal rights campaigner from Bristol, was inspired to stage the nearly eight-hour race after meeting a “gorgeous” turkey named Harriet earlier this year.
Rory, who will wear a turkey-shaped hat for the challenge, said he hopes to help people “realize that veganism is possible” after becoming animal-free himself in 2020 – and prompting many of his family members to follow suit shortly after.
“Hearing that farmers are trying to protect turkeys from bird flu so they can be slaughtered hasn’t hit me, especially after meeting a turkey myself,” Rory said.
“Twelve million turkeys were slaughtered in total in the UK in 2021 and 16 million were killed in 2020.
“I don’t think it’s very Christmassy.”
Rory’s Christmas Run for Animals will take place in Bushy Park, Richmond on 21 December – the shortest day of the year – where participants will run from sunrise to sunset.
Rory said: “There’s a group of us who run all day, some just part of the marathon, some walking and some are tackling the whole seven hours and 49 minutes.
“I will run from sunrise to sunset in my turkey hat in memory of all the animals that will be killed this Christmas.”
She added: ‘I’m raising money for Viva, a vegan charity, because I believe the most effective way to help turkeys is to help consumers realize that maybe we shouldn’t be eating turkeys.
“The best thing to do is talk to people and help them understand that veganism is totally possible.”
It was when Rory came face-to-face with a turkey for the first time earlier this year that he was inspired to organize his own run.
She said: “I met a turkey named Harriet at a sanctuary a few months ago and she was the cutest animal in the world.
“It was my first time meeting a turkey and I don’t think you realize what wonderful creatures they are unless you meet them.”
Rory said he was disturbed by a newspaper article about turkey supplies after meeting Harriet.
He said: ‘I noticed a newspaper on a train that had an article about farmers trying to protect turkey stocks for Christmas.
“The word ‘supplies’ struck me as a very strange phrase because it was almost as if they weren’t talking about sentient beings who can suffer.
“And it seemed to me that as kind, ethical people, we should do the opposite if we really want to protect turkeys.”
He added: ‘So I decided I wanted to raise awareness, raise money and even a little bit of joy, at least for the turkeys themselves.’
Rory has been a committed vegan since January 2020.
He said: “I became a vegetarian in the summer of 2019 before entering my first Vegan Society college event, in January 2020, which was a talk by a vegan activist.”
She added, “I came in as an environmentally conscious vegetarian and left a committed ethical vegan, and have been ever since.”
Rory admitted that her family were skeptical at first.
She said: “For my first vegan Christmas, my family was a little up in arms because obviously there’s the argument of tradition and that ‘this is what we’ve always done’.”
She added: ‘But strangely, my family is now essentially all vegan or very, very near vegan and on the road to becoming vegan and we’ve been having completely vegan Christmas dinners for the last couple of years.
“This year, my grandfather is having his first turkey-free Christmas dinner which he said he is looking forward to, which is very exciting to hear.”
The marathon will begin at 8:05am on December 21st and conclude nearly eight hours later at 3:54pm.
Rory said: “We are running the race at Bushy Park in Richmond and will be wearing our festive gear.
“There are so many vegan options in supermarkets these days and there are so many easy and delicious recipes available online, it’s easier than ever to go vegan.
“It’s cheaper, better for you, infinitely better for the turkeys, and so much better for the environment. A plant-based Christmas dinner is the way to go.
Rory has a vegan dinner planned for Christmas Day.
He said: “I’m having meatless chicken as part of my roast this year, made with wheat and soy protein.
“The first time I tried it, I had to double-check the packaging to make sure it wasn’t real chicken because it tasted so realistic. It’s also much cheaper than buying meat.
She added, “Going plant-based this holiday season feels a lot more Christmassy than the alternative.”
For more information, visit: www.gofundme.com/f/run-for-animals