PETA ‘Appeels’ to POTUS: This Thanksgiving, Why Not Initiate the Great Potato Pardon?

For Immediate Release:
August 30, 2023

Sara Groves 202-483-7382

Washington – Following the announcement that two turkeys from Minnesota—the country’s top turkey-producing state—will be flown to the White House in November to be “pardoned” by President Joe Biden, PETA rushed a letter to the White House this afternoon urging the president to instead initiate the Great American Potato Pardon. The turkey pardon serves as little more than a commercial for an industry that crams thousands of birds into dark, filthy sheds; cuts off portions of their toes, beaks, and snoods with no pain relief; and slaughters them at just a few months old, but a potato pardon would simultaneously celebrate Biden’s Irish heritage and recognize that millions of Americans don’t eat meat for religious, cultural, or environmental reasons or because they object to the way animals are raised and killed.

“This Thanksgiving, PETA urges President Biden to celebrate potato farmers, who are true American heroes, instead of using turkeys as props to advertise a cruel and abusive industry,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “‘Pardoning’ a turkey just so he can live out his remaining days in a tiny, barren stall has always been a particularly heartless tradition, and it’s time to drop it like a hot potato.”

More than 46 million turkeys are killed each year for Thanksgiving alone. Before they end up as the centerpiece on the table, workers slam them upside down into shackles, fully conscious, and they’re dragged through an electrified stun bath before their throats are slit, often while they’re still able to feel pain. A PETA undercover investigation found that workers at turkey farms routinely kicked and stomped on scores of turkeys, including those who were sick, injured, or unable to walk.

PETA notes that the birds “pardoned” by former President Donald Trump have ended up sorely neglected and confined to barren enclosures at Virginia Tech and Iowa State University, where they’re deprived of the opportunity to meet their most basic needs, such as perching, dust-bathing, and warming themselves in the sun.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview, and offers a free vegan starter kit on its website. For more information, please visit, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Biden follows.

August 30, 2023

Dear Mr. President:

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our millions of members and supporters with a suggestion for an appeeling new Thanksgiving tradition—one that would truly be inclusive and welcomed by everyone who doesn’t eat meat for religious, cultural, or environmental reasons or because they object to the way animals are raised and killed. Instead of promoting the harmful factory farming of turkeys, would you please initiate the Great American Potato Pardon, a ceremony that would also celebrate your Irish heritage?

Our suggestion is certainly not half-baked: At a time when the United Nations is calling for a global shift to take the meat out of the old “meat-and-potatoes” diet so as to combat the worst effects of climate change and other forms of environmental damage, it makes sense to support America’s heroes: potato farmers. Unlike turkey flesh, potatoes are naturally fat- and cholesterol-free. They’re rich in iron, potassium, and protein and a good source of vitamin C, and eating them can reduce a person’s risk of suffering from high blood pressure and strokes.

Turkeys are wise, complex individuals who nurture their young, but the way they’re treated on factory farms would turn anyone’s stomach. We’ve recorded turkeys being kicked, choked, and sexually abused. Before they end up as the centerpiece on a table, they’re slammed upside down into shackles while still conscious and dragged through an electrified stun bath before their throats are slit, often while they’re still able to feel pain.

Traditions constantly change because of new information, and now would be a smashing time to introduce the Great American Potato Pardon. Potatoes are a wholesome all-American food, cultivated here for thousands of years, and they’re the most popular vegetable in the country. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid Newkirk


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind