Top 10 reasons to pardon turkeys this Thanksgiving
1. Turkeys are no “bird brains”
When they’re not forced to live on filthy factory farms, turkeys spend their days caring for their young, building nests, foraging for food, taking dustbaths, preening themselves, and roosting high in trees. These intelligent, playful birds relish having their feathers stroked and like to chirp, cluck, and gobble along to their favorite tunes.
As poultry scientist Tom Savage says, “I’ve always viewed turkeys as smart animals with personality and character, and keen awareness of their surroundings. The ‘dumb’ tag simply doesn’t fit.”
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2. Turkeys are American originals
Ben Franklin called turkeys “true American originals.” He had tremendous respect for their resourcefulness, agility, and beauty. In nature, turkeys can fly 55 miles an hour, run 25 miles an hour, and live up to four years. Yet turkeys raised for food are killed when they are only 5 or 6 months old, and during their short lives, they will be denied even the simplest pleasures, like running, building nests, and raising their young.
3. Turkey is no health food
Turkey flesh is brimming with fat and cholesterol. Just one homemade patty of ground, cooked turkey meat contains a whopping 244 mg of cholesterol, and half of its calories come from fat. Turkey flesh is also frequently tainted with salmonella, campylobacter bacteria, and other contaminants.
4. Bird flu can strike anywhere
Current factory-farm conditions, in which turkeys are drugged and bred to grow so quickly they can barely walk, are breeding grounds for disease. Cooking meat should kill the bird flu virus, but it can be left behind on cutting boards and utensils and spread through something else you’re eating.
5. Turkeys are on drugs
Dosing turkeys with antibiotics to stimulate their growth and to keep them alive in filthy, disease-ridden conditions that would otherwise kill them poses even more risks for people who eat them. Leading health organizations—including the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association—have warned that the farmed-animal industry is creating possible long-term risks to human health and will spread antibiotic-resistant supergerms. That’s why the use of drugs to promote growth in animals used for food is banned in Europe.
6. Factory-farmed turkeys have nothing to be thankful for
On factory farms, turkeys live for months in sheds where they are packed so tightly that flapping a wing or stretching a leg is nearly impossible. They stand mired in waste, and urine and ammonia fumes burn their eyes and lungs. To keep the birds from killing one another in such crowded conditions, parts of the turkeys’ toes and beaks are cut off, as are the males’ snoods (the flap of skin under the chin). All this is done without any pain relievers.
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Last fall, a PETA investigator went undercover at Aviagen Turkeys in West Virginia and documented workers stomping on turkeys, punching them, beating them with pipes and boards, and twisting their necks repeatedly. One worker even bragged about shoving a broomstick down a turkey’s throat because the bird had pecked at him. Our previous investigations show that such gratuitous abuse is the norm on turkey farms.
7. Turkeys die bloody, painful deaths
When the time comes for slaughter, turkeys are thrown into transport trucks, and at the slaughterhouse, they are hung upside-down and their heads are dragged through an electrified “stunning tank,” which immobilizes them but does not kill them. Many birds dodge the tank and are still conscious when their throats are slit. If the knife fails to properly slit the birds’ throats, the birds are scalded to death in the defeathering tanks.
8. Turkey is not green
Turkeys and other animals raised for food produce 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population—all without the benefit of waste treatment systems. There are no federal guidelines to regulate how factory farms treat, store, and dispose of the trillions of pounds of concentrated, untreated animal excrement that they produce each year.
9. You’re not doing slaughterhouse workers any favors by eating turkey
Killing animals is inherently dangerous work, and the fast line speeds, the dirty, slippery killing floors, and the lack of training make animal-“processing” plants some of the most life-threatening places to work. The industry refuses to slow down the kill lines or buy appropriate safety gear because these changes could cut into companies’ bottom lines.
10. There are healthy, humane alternatives
Everyone can give thanks for Tofurky, Celebration Roast, Garden Protein’s Veggie Turkey Breast With Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffing, and other animal-friendly holiday meals. PETA’s scrumptious holiday recipes will please every palate and make it easier to give up the giblets.