Turkeys are friends, not food

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Art by Johanna Wen

Every Thanksgiving, over 45 million turkeys are subjected to torture as they are separated from their mothers at birth only to be raised on a factory farm and killed. Some reasons to skip the turkey at your Thanksgiving feast this year are: turkeys are faced with intentional cruelty and abuse, diseases spread through turkey tissue, it is healthier to not eat turkey, and turkeys are adorable.

We are never eating turkey again. Thanksgiving is a holiday known for bringing family together, however, this is not the case for turkeys. Every Thanksgiving, over 45 million turkeys are subjected to torture as they are separated from their mothers at birth only to be raised on a factory farm and killed. Here are four reasons to skip the turkey at your Thanksgiving meal:

Turkeys are faced with intentional cruelty and abuse
After only five months of life, turkeys are crammed into a truck and sent on a path to their death. During transport, turkeys are not protected with appropriate shelter, food or water. This stressful transport alone results in the loss of many turkeys. However, the conditions only worsen as they arrive at the slaughterhouse and are heavily abused. Most of the time, the turkeys are rendered unconscious and stunned while their throats are slit on a blade and placed in scalding hot water. Despite this, oftentimes they are boiled alive after consciously getting their throats slit. Sadly, federal regulations don’t require that the turkeys be rendered unconscious before being slaughtered, therefore, turkeys are very frequently tortured alive.

Disease spread through turkey tissue
Every Thanksgiving, there are always family members who go home feeling sick after overstuffing themselves with delicious Thanksgiving delicacies. However, more times than they are aware of, symptoms including stomach pain and diarrhea are also a common result of Campylobacter, a bacteria frequently found in turkeys. In addition to this threat, there is the more lethal potential of contracting salmonella, a foodborne sickness. According to the USDA, on average, one out of five turkeys is infected with salmonella which kills approximately 420 out of the 1 million people it infects per year. In order to protect the people whom we love, precautionary measures must be taken such as finding substitutions for the main turkey course.

Healthier to not eat turkey
The common store-bought turkey is raised in poor conditions where it is given little to no room to exercise, fed extremely cheap and low-quality food and is given numerous antibiotics to ensure survival until the age of maturity. A lack of exercise results in the muscles being highly fatty when compared to a wild turkey. Also, turkeys contain no fiber and overcompensate for it with fat, cholesterol and calories. Cutting turkey out of a diet, in addition to all other meat products, can lead to the loss of three pounds each week without implementation of exercise. Avoiding turkey not just on Thanksgiving but in day-to-day life results in a healthier lifestyle and therefore, a longer life just like the turkeys would have if we stopped mistreating them.

They are adorable
Research has shown that when reunited with a person they recognize, turkeys dance. Also, when separated from their flock, they’ll squawk until unified again. These adorable characteristics of turkeys show that they have feelings just like humans and don’t deserve the treatment they receive. They also have varied, social personalities similar to dogs and cats. Turkeys form bonds with one another and show affection, just like the furry pets we have at home. If we can domesticate and love these animals as pets, why not give turkeys the same treatment?

How you can help
Eating turkey on Thanksgiving is a centuries-old tradition, and we understand that changing this is not easy or possible for everyone. However, we highly recommend that families consider replacing the turkey on their dinner plate with tofurkey, lentils, tofu pot roast or even mushroom wellington.
Another way to contribute to saving the turkeys is adopting a turkey from Farm Sanctuary for the low price of $35. Each donation will be put towards protecting turkeys in need, caring for those that have been rescued and advocating for their salvation.