Thanksgiving is problematic for a laundry list of reasons, including what’s typically served for dinner. If you think Thanksgiving requires killing animals, you’ve been lied to, friend. Here’s why:
There’s no evidence that turkey flesh was served on the first Thanksgiving.
For all the emphasis meat-eaters place on tradition, it’s ironic that there’s no evidence turkey flesh was even on the menu at what we consider the first Thanksgiving. Thomas Begley, executive assistant at Plimoth Plantation—a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts—told The New York Times that there’s no mention in the historical record of turkeys being eaten during the 1621 feast of the pilgrims and the “invited” Wampanoag tribe.
“Happy” or “humanely raised” turkeys are complete works of marketing fiction.
No matter how their flesh is labeled at the grocery store, during their short lives, turkeys raised for their flesh are denied even the simplest pleasures, such as breathing fresh air, running, building nests, having families, and raising their young.
The birds are hung by their feet from metal shackles and dragged through an electrified bath, and they’re often still conscious when their throats are slit and they’re dumped into scalding-hot defeathering tanks. Can you taste the “happy”?
People are eating actual babies.
Turkeys are caring parents and spirited explorers who can live up to 20 years, but because of human prejudice, those raised for food are normally slaughtered when they’re between 12 and 26 weeks old. The only reason they look so grotesquely large, despite their age, is because they’ve been genetically modified to grow unnaturally large extremely fast.
Eating dead birds is wreaking havoc on the planet.
Like all industrial animal farming operations, turkey farms release dangerous pollutants such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide into our environment, contributing to land devastation, air pollution, and water contamination.
Any way you eat as a vegan is more climate-friendly than eating animal-derived foods. Going vegan can drop the food-related emissions that a person is responsible for by over 50%, while even the “cleanest” omnivore diets reduce emissions by only roughly 35%.
Eating turkeys still sucks for your heart health.
All animal flesh can cause heart disease. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the amount of bad cholesterol in the blood of humans who ate red meat and those who ate white meat was virtually the same.
Your turkey could have been the victim of sexual assault.
How’s this for dinner-table fodder? At the first sound of some off-color comment about vegan living from some crotchety relative, remind them that when PETA investigated a Butterball slaughterhouse, we exposed workers bludgeoning, beating, and sexually assaulting the birds. One worker was seen shoving his fingers into a turkey’s cloaca (vagina) for “fun.” Another employee slammed a bird’s head and legs into the slaughter line shackles and rubbed his body against her, pretending to rape her while she was immobilized.
PETA’s investigation into Plainville Farms similarly revealed that workers callously abused turkeys, apparently to amuse themselves. One worker picked up a bird by her injured neck and held her between his legs to mimic masturbation before dropping her on the floor, kicking her, and leaving her to die. A few nights later, another worker sat on a tom and thrust his pelvis back and forth.
The meat industry genetically modifies turkeys so extremely that they are physically incapable of mating on their own, and it breeds them through artificial insemination. This process involves workers who suck male turkeys’ semen out with a straw.
Turkeys pardoned by the president still die far short of their natural life expectancy.
The American turkeys dragged from cruel farms for this spectacle are so genetically modified and sickly that they tend to die within a few years of this ridiculous stunt. It turns out that the birds are at such a high risk of falling ill or even dying before the ceremony takes place that each year, a second turkey is kept as a “backup.” Furthermore, how can someone be “pardoned” when they’re completely innocent of any crime?
Many traditional Thanksgiving foods are or can be made vegan (gasp!).
Many holiday foods can easily be made vegan since they’re already plant-based, including those made with sweet potatoes, cranberries, pumpkins, and string beans. Seriously, have you tried vegan butter? You’ll never know the difference. Replace dairy milk with unsweetened almond milk (or soy milk, oat milk, hemp milk, cashew milk, or … you get the point).
There’s also a cornucopia of vegan roasts to choose from for Thanksgiving.
With delicious vegan Thanksgiving roasts from brands such as Tofurky, Gardein, and Field Roast, we can still enjoy the dishes we love but without the cruelty or cholesterol. Give thanks that this is the U.S., where we have grocery stores filled with many options.
Download PETA’s free ThanksVegan Holiday Guide for delicious holiday recipes, tips, and advice for answering difficult questions at the dinner table!