More Turkey Abuse Revealed: PETA Asks POTUS to End Sham Thanksgiving ‘Pardon’

For Immediate Release:
August 13, 2021

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382


As reported in the New York Post this week, a new PETA undercover investigation reveals that workers kicked, stomped on, and beat turkeys sold by companies with “humanely raised” labels—so now, PETA is taking aim at another turkey-related sham. The group sent a letter this morning to President Joe Biden asking him to call off the annual presidential turkey “pardon,” noting that it’s a showcase for factory farmers and that the birds “spared” by former President Donald Trump have ended up sorely neglected and confined to barren stalls at Virginia Tech and Iowa State University.

“When birds are treated like footballs, it’s cruel for the White House to promote factory farming,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is asking President Biden to reject this stunt, in which turkeys are used as props to advertise a cruel industry that makes a mockery of American values.”

PETA’s investigator worked on farms supplying Plainville Farms, a Pennsylvania-based supplier to top grocers, including Publix, Harris Teeter, and Whole Foods. PETA’s investigator found that  workers routinely kicked and stomped on scores of turkeys, including those who were sick, injured, and unable to walk. Workers tried and failed to break turkeys’ necks and left them to convulse and die in agony on the floor. Instead of trying to stop this abuse, one supervisor kicked turkeys, too, and berated PETA’s investigator for not doing the same.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Biden follows.

August 13, 2021

Dear Mr. President:

Greetings from the largest animal rights organization in the world, with more than 6.5 million members and supporters. Please see photographs of the plight of four turkeys former President Donald J. Trump “pardoned” in White House ceremonies designed to kowtow to the meat industry, undignified events that make a laughing stock of the president’s role and result in immense suffering for birds. Before plans get underway for this year’s fiasco, we have a request: Do not do it, please. The turkey industry is badly tarnished. Just this week, PETA revealed that workers kicked, stomped on, and beat turkeys sold by companies with deliberately deceptive “humanely raised” labels.

Factory farming is a filthy business that contributes to water and land pollution, and the antibiotics given to birds on these farms create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. The industry is implicated in the spread of zoonotic diseases, including avian influenza and cryptosporidiosis, as well as being deeply offensive to the millions of Americans who will celebrate ThanksVegan this year for humane, environmental, religious, or health reasons. Already, 9.7 million Americans are vegan, and sales of vegan meat have surged since the pandemic began, as have vegan search terms. Google Trends data show that vegan living is twice as popular as it was only five years ago and is growing exponentially.

Past years’ “pardoned” turkeys shame the presidency. Confined to barren stalls at Virginia Tech, they’re deprived of any sort of meaningful or fulfilling life. They are depressed and dirty from their living conditions, and they’ve pulled out many of their feathers because of stress.

Mr. President, please promote kindness and healthy living by eliminating the outdated and absurd ritual that is the presidential turkey “pardon.” Turkeys have committed no crimes that require them to be “pardoned.” They are gentle birds, who are slaughtered when they’re still just babies, between 12 and 26 weeks old. They are hung upside down by their feet from metal shackles and dragged through an electrified bath, often remaining conscious while their throats are slit. Then they’re dumped into the scalding-hot water of defeathering tanks, sometimes alive.

This Thanksgiving, we hope you’ll enjoy a ThanksVegan feast and encourage other Americans to do the same. You’ll be known as the president who started a new tradition—one that saves lives and protects the planet.

Thank you, and our best wishes to you and your family.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid Newkirk


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