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Think that turkey looks appetizing? Think again.

Put down that drumstick!
Over 300 million turkeys are killed every year in the United States, 40 million of them specifically for Thanksgiving. The majority of these are raised in factory farms where they are stacked in cages in windowless sheds where they can't live naturally (or happily) in any sense of the word. Often they cannot move, and many die in the conditions before they are fully grown. They are debeaked and declawed without anesthesia, making it difficult or even impossible for them to eat, and research shows that they feel the pain of this for the rest of their lives. Those who survive are fed until they are grotesquely obese and cannot stand because their skeletons are too weak from confinement. Over-burdened in this way, and trapped in close quarters with too little oxygen, many turkeys die when their hearts explode from the physical stress.

The birds are unable to reproduce naturally in these conditions, and the males are "milked" for their semen, which is then shot into the females with a syringe or tube. Turkeys do not recieve even the scant protection given to pigs and cows by the Humane Slaughter Act and many are tied upside down still alive and conveyed to the part of the factory where they are knifed. Not all die right away and suffer unspeakably by bleeding slowly to death.

Turkeys and other poultry are often infected with salmonella and campylobacter bacteria from their unnatural living conditions, and deregulation of the industry means that more diseases are reaching the dinner table. Even if a particular bird is free of these bacteria at the point of purchase, it was most likely raised on a steady diet of antibiotics and chemical growth stimulants which are not good for human health. Additionally, working conditions in poultry factories are unpleasant and dangerous, and big business has blocked legislation that would grant workers relief. The turkeys lose, and the people lose.

Still hungry for that drumstick?

Sources & More information:

  1. The Turkey Day
  2. Save a Turkey
  3. Turkeys Want to Be Friends, Not Food
  4. Gruesome treatment of turkeys as exposed by PETA
  5. Turkeys: Hooked on Drugs (Jim Hightower)
  6. United Poultry Concerns, Inc. Turkey Brochure
  7. Reviews of Karen Davis' Book "More Than a Meal"
  8. At Our Mercy: The Eating of Animals
  9. About Factory farms
  10. Meat Is Murder (Resources)
  12. United Poultry Concerns
  13. Animal Liberation Front
  14. portland indymedia animal rights news
A turkey on the table is frightful 28.Nov.2002 01:58

veggie boy

A turkey on the table is frightful
A turkey on the table is frightful

And it's so unnecessary 27.Nov.2003 12:41

Turkey Lurkey

Really. I know, you've always had a turkey on Thanksgiving, and it would seem weird without it. I went through that some years back when I swore off meat. It's hard, at first, to imagine new rituals, new comfort foods. But once you make the leap, it's really a lot easier than you think! I have a very traditional Thanksgiving feast every year, totally vegetarian. Everyone who comes raves about the food, even the most skeptical meat eaters. Vegetarian feasts aren't all about tofu and lentils, by the way. In fact, although I like tofu, I've never served any soy on Thanksgiving. (Not because I don't like it, just because that's how it's worked out.)

There's a universe of delicious, hearty, delectable gourmet food that doesn't include meat. This year, we're having musaka, baba ganoosh, portabello mushroom casserole, mashed potatoes, vegan stuffing, curried eggplant, cranberries, whole grain rolls, roasted sweet potato bisque, and a beautiful salad.

The trick is to pick something you really love, something special that takes time and meditation in the kitchen. Something that can be the centerpiece of your "tradition." Serve that only on holidays each year, along with more adventureous side dishes and complimentary fare, and before you know it, turkeys are birds again, not carcasses. Seriously. When you smell it cooking, whatever you've chosen, it will remind you of the holidays just like turkey used to.

Save the world, one good step at a time.