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Top 10 Reasons to Pardon a Turkey This Thanksgiving

Written by PETA | November 24, 2008
wikimedia / CC

Did Sarah Palin’s recent interview in front of a turkey-slaughter operation almost cause you to lose your lunch? If so, you’re not alone. Even conservative pundit Joe Scarborough says he may well skip the bird this year. With Thanksgiving upon us, here without further ado are PETA’s top 10 reasons to pardon a turkey this holiday season:

10. If you wouldn’t eat your cat, you shouldn’t eat a turkey.
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.” They’re as interesting and have personalities every bit as developed as those of any dog or cat.

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 dust baths, preening themselves, and roosting high in trees. These social, playful birds relish having their feathers stroked and like to chirp, cluck, and gobble along to their favorite tunes.

9. Factory farms deny turkeys everything that is natural and important to them.
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. During their short lives, they will be denied even the simplest pleasures, such as running, building nests, and raising their young.

8. Turkey consumption might kill you.
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. And a vegan meal won’t leave you sprawled on the couch, belt buckle undone, barely able to move.

7. You may stave off bird flu apocalypse.
Current factory-farm conditions are breeding grounds for disease. Turkeys are drugged and bred to grow so quickly that many become crippled and die from dehydration. 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.

6. Don’t support their crack habit.
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 factory farming industry is possibly creating long-term risks to human health through the spread of antibiotic-resistant supergerms. That’s why the use of drugs to promote growth in animals used for food has been banned for many years in Europe.

5. There are healthy, humane alternatives.
Everyone can give thanks for animal-friendly holiday meals such as Tofurky, Celebration Roast, and Garden Protein’s new Veggie Turkey Breast With Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffing. PETA’s scrumptious holiday recipes will please every palate and make it easier to give up the giblets.

4. Eating birds supports cruelty to animals.
When the time comes for slaughter, turkeys are thrown into transport trucks. 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 cut. If the knife fails to properly cut the birds’ throats, the birds are scalded to death in the defeathering tanks.

3. Turkey consumption is bad for the environment.
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.

2. Turkey farming contributes to human starvation.
Turkeys have to be fed grains, soy, oats, and corn that could otherwise be fed to human beings. Only a fraction of the calories fed to a turkey are turned into meat calories. While there is ample and justified moral indignation about the diversion of 100 million tons of grain for biofuels, more than seven times as much (760 million tons) is fed to farmed animals so that people can eat meat. Is the diversion of crops to our cars a moral issue? Yes, but it’s about one-eighth the issue that meat-eating is.

And the number one reason to give the birds a break:

1. 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; urine and ammonia fumes burn their eyes and lungs. To keep the birds from killing one another in these 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.

A PETA investigator recently went undercover at a massive turkey-breeding facility 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.

Check out for tasty alternatives that will allow the turkeys to give thanks this Holiday season along with you and your family.

Happy eating!

Written by Bruce Friedrich

Commenting is closed.
  • turkey says:

    Dont eat turkey ppl!!

  • savannah says:

    I dont like Mccruelty they do terrible things Me and my family have 20 amimals like a pig donkey 8 dogsand 10 cats. I know its a whole lot!

  • cate says:

    We have a flock of about 40 wild turkeys who visit us. Best was in a rainstorm the mom turkey was hunkered down in the yard and I could see the babies about 10 of them peeking out from under her wings. They are great parents. I’ve been veg for 20 years I love my mash stuffing veg gravy cran. I never miss eating meat not for a second.

  • vegancoin says:

    “humans eating meat is natural hence why the majority do.” The appeal to nature is bogus. On top of which nature is not on your side. Intestine length size shape and location of teeth jaw musclesmotion ph of saliva stomach acidity all indicate that humans are herbivores not carnivores. The majority of people consume animal products because they are uninformed and aren’t aware of other choices.

  • Kelley says:

    AndiI am not making excuses for her. I only mean at least she accepts she is eating dead animalsmost people just buy their meat in the grocery store where it is already prepped cleaned and packaged. You seem very angry and did not really read what I said…

  • rojo says:

    andi humans are not and never have been carnivores they are omnivoreswell most of them. humans eating meat is natural hence why the majority do. granted we no longer eat wooly Mammoths and have developed agriculture but we still cannot deny our past.

  • Shari says:

    Because pardoning turkeys this Thanksgiving ALONG WITH all the other living creatures SUBJECTED to the VILE meat industry 365 DAYS A YEAR is the ONLY moral and ethical thing to do as you would NOT be reading these top 10 reasons if this were STILL a nation UNDER GOD ‘ CORPORATISM GREEDBARGAIN WITH THE DEVIL Thanksgiving is also a ‘pilgrim myth’ NO such thing as pilgrims just ANOTHER illusion you were ‘programmed’ to believe and accept what would this nation do WITHOUT its sheeple to BELIEVE in their fairy tales as Thanksgiving is nothing more than mere THEFT of this land from the Native Indians along WITH the genocide of its people! SOUND familiar? NOW tell me just WHERE HOW does the symbolized ‘Turkey’ come into play of these crimes corruption? Hmm answer me that? If you are apart of the MAJORITY of the ‘dummied down society’ that STILL senselessly celebrate the ‘traditional lies’ of Thanksgiving TRY celebrating this year by NOT eating the ‘so called’ mascot! aaahahahaaa I’d LOVE to see what would happen if ‘they’ created a holiday where jumping off a cliff was the theme for the making of tradition LOL! It would definitely SOLVE the problem of OVER population THAT’S for sure ‘ Peace Love TRUTH

  • andi says:

    If you could catch kill and eat a “raw turkey” with your bare hands and teeth then you would be a true carnivore. But if you have to depend on hunting weapons cutting knives cooking fires and grocery stores then guess what? You’re not a carnivore. Humans eating meat is not natural which is why a lot of the “meat” you consume stays in your lower intestines. About a pound every 10 years I’d say. Re kelley “I am not a fan of Sarah Palin but at least she is honest about where her food comes from.” Honest? There’s nothing “honest” about that mediagrubbing political whore. You’re so busy making excuses for this despicable useless human being who has no business being in the public eye much less politics that you have no empathy for other living beings who have just as much right to live and be left alone.

  • Rod says:

    I don’t even understand why people would want to eat Turkey!It has always tasted disgusting to me.Besidesturkeys aren’t naturally as big as they are at the supermarket.The hormpnes od that and I don’t find hormones very appetizing!

  • Laura says:

    In response to 8 I have totally “sprawled on the couch belt buckle undone barely able to move” after eating too many Comforting Knishes They are sooo good. I 3 vegan food. httpwww.vegcooking.comrecipeshow.asp?RequestID39

  • Anita50882 says:

    Lord have mercy… It’s so sad how long I went thru my life without considering these facts. Thanks to PETA I now know better. People can say whatever they want about animal rights but the fundamentals of this phylosophy stand for peace and against violence. That is the material point. Thanks to PETA more and more animals are getting to experience their basic rights.

  • Leonard says:

    Great post. Not only is eating turkey gross but celebrating the eating of all meat is even grosser. There’s this “Meaty Girl” blog at Somebody needs to tell her how disgusting she is.

  • Kelley says:

    I was sorry to see this viedeo on MSNthey fuzzed out the actual killings in the background. If I ran the news channels I would never have done that. Let’s be completely honest here. Why shouldn’t meat eating Americans see how the “guest of honor” at their Thanksgiving feast got there? I have to add these turkeys seem to be fairly well treated compared to most large scale factory raised birds. I am not a fan of Sarah Palin but at least she is honest about where her food comes from. She accepts that she is eating dead animals unlike most people who don’t want to know where their food comes from.

  • Andi says:

    I’ve already got my tofurky ready for the feast. And the more that Palin woman opens her mouth the stupider she gets. I think I loathe her even more. FACT Leonardo da Vinci the great artist inventor and overall genius was such a fervent vegetarian that he would buy caged birds from poultry vendors and set them free.

  • Abby says:

    After Thanksgiving you should post statistics to show if turkey sales dropped this year. The Palin thing has gotten a lot of publicity so I’m curious to know if there is an actual effect on sales. Of course it’s possible that some people will turn to another meat such as ham or chicken in place of turkey. I’ve heard several people talk about doing that. It’s six of one and half dozen of the other.

  • Canaduck says:

    I always loved pigs until I met turkeys. I mean I STILL love pigs but never have I met a friendlier funnier animal than the turkey. They love to cuddle and they are so curious!