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Top 10 Reasons Not to Eat Turkeys

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Pardon me, pilgrim! This Thanksgiving, how about ditching the dead bird? In today’s farming system, beautiful, inquisitive, intelligent turkeys endure lives of suffering and painful deaths. Here are 10 good reasons to carve out a new tradition by flocking to vegan entrées, along with some scrumptious holiday cooking tips and recipes—and thankfully, none of them require stuffing anyone:

1. Personality Plus
Turkeys are “smart animals with personality and character, and keen awareness of their surroundings,” says Oregon State University poultry scientist Tom Savage. The Atlantic article “Consider the Turkey” reports that researchers “have found that when an individual turkey is removed from his flock, even in domesticity, he’ll squawk in obvious protest until reunited with his posse.” They relish having their feathers stroked. They dance when reunited with a person they recognize. Anyone who spends time with them at farm sanctuaries quickly learns that turkeys are as varied in personality as dogs and cats.

Wild Turkey

2. Let Them Give Thanks, Too
The natural life expectancy of turkeys is up to 10 years, but on factory farms, they are slaughtered when they’re just 5 months old. In nature, young turkeys stay with their mothers for the first few months of their lives. Since Thanksgiving is a time to take stock of our lives and give thanks for all that we have, let turkeys give thanks, too, by keeping them off your plate.

3. Can You Spell ‘Pandemic’?
The first human death from bird flu in North America was recently reported, and that’s not a surprise, given that people are traveling more frequently worldwide. Also recently, The New York Times reported that “[c]ases of the new H7N9 avian influenza in China are surging alarmingly …. There are now about 300 confirmed cases, with more appearing every day. Roughly a quarter of the victims have died.” When comparing this strain to the H5N1 strain that emerged in 2003 and also spread from birds to people, experts report that the new strain is spreading faster. “H7N9 is blowing right by H5N1,” Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told The New York Times.

4. The Meat Recall Loophole
The U.S. government is the only government in the Western world that does not have the power to force a recall of contaminated animal products. Instead, American meat companies are allowed to decide whether or not to comply when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or the Food and Drug Administration requests a recall. The PBS show Frontline reported that “[o]ften, even if the USDA does issue a recall, the contaminated meat and poultry is never recovered, which means that consumers are probably buying it and consuming it.” Learn more about meat contamination.

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5. Get Rid of Your ‘Extra Baggage’
A study in the Nutrition Reviews journal reports that “a low-fat vegan diet leads to weight loss of about 1 pound per week, even without additional exercise or limits on portion sizes, calories, or carbohydrates.” “There is evidence that a vegan diet causes an increased calorie burn after meals, meaning plant-based foods are being used more efficiently as fuel for the body, as opposed to being stored as fat,” says Dr. Neal Barnard, one of the study’s authors. Take the cruelty off your plate and look great? Sounds like a win-win situation.

6. Want Stuffing With Your Supergerms?
Dosing turkeys with antibiotics to stimulate their growth—and to keep them alive in filthy, disease-ridden conditions that would otherwise kill them—poses risks to people who eat them. The USDA confirmed that 80 percent of all antibacterial drugs used in the U.S. are given to animals, and often the animals aren’t even sick. Ralph Loglisci, project director at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, explains that “all low-dose usage of antibiotics can lead to a significant increase in antibiotic resistance.”

An article published by the Natural Resources Defense Council further details the dangers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, explaining, “Drug-resistant bacteria can and do travel on meat but that’s just one of many routes off the farm. These dangerous bacteria can hitch a ride out of animal feedlots on workers who handle contaminated animals or meat. They can travel through water, soil, and air that come into contact with contaminated animal waste.” Furthermore, they can “teach” other bacteria to be resistant. Still hungry? Neither are we.

Morrissey and Cloe the Turkey© Chris Polk/Filmmagic.com

7. No Life for a Living Animal
On factory farms, turkeys are kept for months in sheds where they’re packed so tightly that flapping a wing or stretching a leg is nearly impossible. They stand in waste, and urine and ammonia fumes burn their eyes and lungs. At the slaughterhouse, turkeys often have their throats slit while hanging upside down and still conscious. Those who miss the automated knife are scalded to death in the defeathering tank. Watch this horrifying cartoon that depicts a turkey’s last moments in the slaughterhouse:

8. Foul Farming
Anyone who has driven by a farm has probably smelled it first from a mile away. Turkeys and other animals raised for food in the U.S. produce far more excrement than the entire U.S. human population, roughly 89,000 pounds per second, all without the benefit of waste-treatment systems. There are no meaningful federal guidelines to regulate how farms treat, store, and dispose of the trillions of pounds of concentrated animal excrement they produce each year. Learn more about how factory farming damages the environment.

9. Dismal Working Conditions
Killing animals is inherently dangerous work, and the fast line speeds, the dirty and slippery killing floors, and the lack of employee training make animal-processing plants some of the most dangerous places to work in America today. The industry has refused to slow down the lines or buy appropriate safety gear because these changes could cut into companies’ bottom lines. In its 185-page exposé on worker exploitation by the farmed-animal industry, “Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Workers’ Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants,” Human Rights Watch explains: “These are not occasional lapses by employers paying insufficient attention to modern human resources management policies. These are systematic human rights violations embedded in meat and poultry industry employment.

10. A Cornucopia of Turkey Alternatives
Give up the giblets and carve out a new tradition this Thanksgiving. We suggest cooking a Tofurky Roast, a savory soy- and wheat-based roast with stuffing and gravy, or one of the plethora of roasts and “meat” loaves that Field Roast has to offer. Give animals and yourself something to be really thankful for this year, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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  • My Words says:

    So animals are killed in sloter houses every day. Chickens are shoved into cages and people wait until they die then they packege them. And horses are dumped and killed every day. So are you going to let then die if you don’t all the animals in the world are going to die. So are you a vegan or a canable eat right don’t eat animals.

  • Sera says:

    With due respect, I’d like to point out that the one reason a lot of vegetarians are perfectly okay with eating plants and drinking milk is because we know we aren’t hurting anyone. Until such time as someone conclusively proves that plants can feel pain ( results have so far shown that they cannot), we will continue eating them. If a pain response system is discovered, us true vegetarians will get our nutrition from other, non- painful- to- other- creatures sources. Vegetarianism has evolved from meaning plant-eater to environmentally sensitised nature lover.

  • zaretta says:

    I recently got to know some rescued turkeys and was astounded at their curiosity and friendliness. They would position themselves at the center of a group of people and lap up the attention and closely investigate anything of interest to them like mobile phones and sunglasses. If you were doing anything with your hands such as tying shoelaces they would put thier faces within a few inches of it to watch intently. They were also very quick to greet anyone new and would sit with eyes closed to be patted. What shocked me was their feet, the farmer had cut off their toes near the first knuckle to stop their claws growing, I don’t know how they survived the pain. Sadly most of the turkeys did not live long because they grew too heavy for their hearts, lungs and bones because of their genetic modifications but they enjoyed their short time in a good home

  • stp479 says:

    And so the baconeatingjew is number six? If you haven’t a good thing to say then say nothing at all.

  • Alan says:

    We need more labling of NON-GMO soy products so that we can
    avoid the GMO soy products. Is Tofurky NON-GMO?

  • Wally says:

    Guys wake up! Millions of animals (insects, birds and rodents) are sprayed to prevent them to destroy the crops, are you going to stop eating wheat or rice because that? Besides, veggies are alive too, what are you going to eat then? Humans are not veggies or carnivores, we are omnivores and need veggies and flesh. Someone must die so others may live.

  • Terry Carlo says:

    Judging by your comment you must be the 6TH “MOST STUPID ANIMAL IN THE WHOLE WORLD.”

  • walt says:

    I love Turkey. It is a healthy meat compared to GMO plants with pesticides and E-Coli and brain eating worms.
    Meats would be fine if it weren’t for the hormones and chemicals.
    A balanced diet is just fine. Ask my 100 year old meat eating grandmother.

  • Knuckleheddd says:

    To baconeatingjew: And this was determined using the WAIS or Stanford-Binet? Interesting statement, impossible to support.

  • Mel says:

    Proud vegetarian for 17 years. I am thankful at Thanksgiving. Animals are smarter than a lot of humans. God bless the turkeys and God’s other beautiful live creatures. RIP the poor sacrifices for human benefit. I will thankfully be going to a job I love this Thanksgiving and leaving the turkeys alone.

  • Michele Stipe says:

    You know I don’t understand how anybody could kill let alone eat these Turkeys. This is so disgusting! And yet these are most likely the same people who sit around waiting for that turkey to be finish and say they love animals. Yeah Right!

  • Imran Alam says:

    Good article. In response to False Positive: what are you on about? Learn some form of rudimentary grammar before putting pen to paper.

  • Jagdish Mittal says:

    All the reasons given for avoiding meat of Turkey are very sound.Therefore we should not eat this meat.

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