Pardon me, pilgrim!
This Thanksgiving, how about ditching the dead bird? These beautiful, inquisitive, intelligent birds endure lives of suffering and painful deaths. Here are 10 good reasons to carve out a new tradition by flocking to vegetarian entrées, along with some scrumptious holiday cooking tips and recipes—thankfully, none of them require stuffing food up anyone’s behind.
1. They’re Begging Your Pardon
Turkeys are “smart animals with personality and character, and keen awareness of their surroundings,” Oregon State University poultry scientist Tom Savage says. Turkeys are social, playful birds who enjoy the company of others. They relish having their feathers stroked and like to chirp, cluck, and gobble along to their favorite tunes. Anyone who spends time with them at farm sanctuaries quickly learns that turkeys are as varied in personality as dogs and cats. The president “pardons” a turkey every year—can’t you pardon one too? Learn more about turkeys.
2. Get Rid of Your Wattle
Turkey flesh is brimming with fat. Just one homemade patty of ground, cooked turkey meat contains a whopping 244 mg of cholesterol, and half of its calories come from fat. Research has shown that vegetarians are 50 percent less likely to develop heart disease, and they have 40 percent of the cancer rate of meat-eaters. Plus, meat-eaters are nine times more likely to be obese than vegans are. Learn more about animal products and your health.
3. Can You Spell ‘Pandemic’?
Experts are warning that a virulent new strain of bird flu could spread to human beings and kill millions of Americans. Current factory-farm conditions, in which turkeys are drugged up and bred to grow so quickly they can barely walk, are a prescription for disease outbreaks. Eating a turkey carcass contaminated with bird flu could kill you, and currently available drugs might not work. Cooking should kill the virus, but it could be left behind on cutting boards and utensils and spread through something else you’re eating. Learn more about bird flu.
4. Recall Process Doesn’t Fly
The U.S. government is the only government in the Western world that does not have the power to recall contaminated animal products. Instead, American consumers must trust the profit-hungry meat, dairy, and egg industries to decide when recalls are necessary. Dan Glickman, secretary of agriculture under President Bill Clinton, explained that this limit on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) power to protect consumers from tainted animal products is “one of the biggest loopholes out there.” There are all sorts of killer bacteria found in turkey flesh, including salmonella and campylobacter. The Center for Science in the Public Interest found that 28 percent of fresh turkeys were contaminated with bacteria, primarily with campylobacter, for which the USDA does not even require testing. Learn more about meat contamination.
5. Let the Turkeys Give Thanks!
Let’s face it: If you’re eating a turkey, that’s a corpse you’ve got there on the table, and if you don’t eat it quickly enough, it will decompose. Is that really what we want as the centerpiece of a holiday meal: an animal’s dead and decaying carcass? Thanksgiving is a time to take stock of our lives and give thanks for all that we have, so why not let the turkeys give thanks too? Learn more about what happens to turkeys on factory farms.
6. Want Stuffing With Your Supergerms?
Dosing turkeys with antibiotics to stimulate their growth and to keep them alive in filthy, disease-ridden conditions that would otherwise kill them poses even more risks for people who eat them. Leading health organizations—including the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association—have warned that by giving powerful drugs (via animal products) to humans who are not sick, the farmed-animal industry is creating possible long-term risks to human health and will spread antibiotic-resistant supergerms. That’s why the use of drugs to promote growth in animals used for food has been banned for many years in Europe.
7. Without a Wing and a Prayer
On factory farms, turkeys live for months in sheds where they are packed so tightly that flapping a wing or stretching a leg is nearly impossible. They stand in waste, and urine and ammonia fumes burn their eyes and lungs. At the slaughterhouse, turkeys have their throats slit while they are still conscious. Those who miss the automated knife are scalded to death in the defeathering tank. Learn more about the cruelty endured by turkeys.
8. Foul Farming
Anyone who has driven by a farm has probably smelled it first from a mile away. Turkeys and other animals raised for food produce 130 times as much excrement as the entire U.S. human population—all without the benefit of waste treatment systems. There are no federal guidelines to regulate how factory farms treat, store, and dispose of the trillions of pounds of concentrated, untreated animal excrement that they produce each year. Learn more about how factory farming damages the environment.
9. Blood, Sweat, and Fear
Killing animals is inherently dangerous work, but the fast line speeds, the dirty, slippery killing floors, and the lack of training make animal-processing plants some of the most dangerous places to work in America today. The industry has refused to slow down the lines or buy appropriate safety gear because these changes could cut into companies’ bottom lines. In its 185-page exposé on worker exploitation by the farmed-animal industry, “Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Workers’ Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants,” Human Rights Watch explains, ‘These are not occasional lapses by employers paying insufficient attention to modern human resources management policies. These are systematic human rights violations embedded in meat and poultry industry employment.”
10. A Cornucopia of Turkey Alternatives
Give up the giblets and carve out a new tradition this Thanksgiving—Tofurky Roast, a savory soy- and wheat-based roasts with stuffing and gravy or oven-roasted, peppered, hickory-smoked, or cranberry- and stuffing-flavored Tofurky Deli Slices. Give animals and yourself something to be really thankful for this year: Order a free vegetarian starter kit full of tasty recipes and celebrity features today!