Have a Cruelty-Free Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving coming up, of course I have to bring up the Turkey. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and guess what… I don’t even have to eat turkey to enjoy it. I know it’s tradition, but tradition doesn’t mean it’s right. The turkey industry is a very cruel industry and it shouldn’t be ignored just because of a silly tradition. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat on Thanksgiving too. I’m not telling you not to stuff yourself, just skip the turkey. Think about what that turkey went through before reaching your table.

The Turkey Industry

Every year about 40 million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving. Turkeys, like other animals raised for food, are raised on factory farms. Factory farms are meant to mass produce animals and maximize profit, but come at the expense of the animals. Turkeys are packed into filthy, overcrowded sheds with thousands of other turkeys, where they spend their whole lives. Their beaks are cut off without pain relievers to keep them from killing each other from the stress.

Turkeys are genetically manipulated to grow as big as possible, as fast as possible. In the 1960s, it took 220 days to raise a 35-pound turkey. Due to selective breeding and growth-promoting drugs, it now takes only 132 days. Turkeys grow so big and fast they often become crippled under their own weight and suffer organ failure. They can’t even reproduce naturally and must be artificially inseminated. After 14 to 20 weeks, turkeys are transported to slaughter without food, water or protection from extreme temperatures.

In the United States, unlike many other countries, there is no federal legislation  protecting turkeys (or other poultry) on the farm, in transit, or during slaughter; and most state anti-cruelty statutes do not apply to farm animals.

This is a video from an undercover investigation from Mercy for Animals

Having a Cruelty-Free Thanksgiving

As long as people continue to eat turkey, this nightmare will continue. The best thing you can do for them is to keep them off of your table this Thanksgiving. There is the option of the faux turkey, but if that is not something you would consider, just leave the turkey out altogether. Cruelty is not a way to celebrate. There are also other ways you can make your Thanksgiving cruelty-free that are not as noticeable changes, such as vegetarian or vegan gravy, stuffing and other vegetarian or vegan side dishes. Here are five ways from PETA to veganize your Thanksgiving and tips for a vegan holiday.

You can also make a difference by taking part in the Adopt-A-Turkey Program by Farm Sanctuary. Through this program you can sponsor a turkey living at Farm Sanctuary that has been rescued.

Like I said, I love Thanksgiving and love to eat. My favorite cruelty-free foods to eat on Thanksgiving are mashed potatoes, vegetarian stuffing and green bean casserole. What are some of your favorite cruelty-free foods to eat on Thanksgiving?

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6 thoughts on “Have a Cruelty-Free Thanksgiving

  1. I think this was such an emotional post! I have always heard about the abuse that animals endure before they go to fast food restaurants, but I have never thought deeply about the every day foods we eat. I have heard that the animals are fed steroids to make them grow faster, and that is horrible. It is terrible the conditions that these poor animals have to live in. It is almost sickening to think that our country would even revolve a holiday around meat like turkey. I really liked your tips from PETA on how to have a vegan Thanksgiving. It has to be discouraging to be a vegetarian because there is a small chance only one person will make a huge difference, but these are inspiring posts. I went to the PETA website after reading your blog and searched around for awhile. I found some really cool stuff, like they have a ‘Turkey Of the Year’ which is a story of someone saved a turkey from cruel conditions. There are so many good foods for Thanksgiving, you don’t even need a turkey for the dinner to be centered around! My favorite cruelty-free foods are green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie! Yum!

  2. This article is a great point to bring up! I never thought about how many turkeys need to be raised and killed for Thanksgiving feasts. I feel horrible for the conditions that these animals go through for one holiday. But, it can be hard to stop a long-running, worldwide tradition. By shedding light on the way these animals are raised like you did in this article, it may help to reduce the number of people who eat turkey on Thanksgiving. I am not sure how many people would actually completely wipe out eating turkey, but it is a great point to bring up. People probably never even gave it a thought, which is why I’m glad that I have read this article. My favorite cruelty-free foods to eat on Thanksgiving are mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.

  3. I’m embarrassed to say that before reading this blog I never really considered how many turkeys are killed for all of the Thanksgiving feasts worldwide and I was shocked to find out that every year over 40 million are killed! This was an upsetting post to read due to how inhumane these animals were treated, it’s not right and it bothered me to witness it. I couldn’t get past the first two minutes of the video, for me, it was too hard to watch. Turkey is something I think we all take for granted because it’s one of those things you expect on Thanksgiving, but no one ever thinks about what it took to get that turkey there on our plate and now I have a completely different outlook. Unfortunately, other people might not be affected by the way I was about this blog and may continue to consume turkey every year without a thought. My hope is that people become more aware of the cruelty animals face and fight to change these conditions and also maybe make some changes as to what is served for dinner! I am glad that I read this article, it really gave me a lot to think about. This Thanksgiving I will be dining on my favorite cruelty-free foods; green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and corn bread!

  4. I, probably among many, have forgotten how turkey and other meat products have gotten to our plates. I have to agree with Ms. Brino, however, on the topic of traditions; it would be difficult to break the nation’s tradition of eating turkey on Thanksgiving. I believe the only thing we can do is raise awareness about how we are obtaining this food and take a better look at what we’re buying at the store.

    Your post seems to focus on the poor conditions of the farms/slaughter houses/turkeys, but have you taken a look at organic options? Below is a link going into a little more detail about this:

    http://www.mnn.com/family/family-activities/stories/the-humane-organic-turkey-trot

    Instead of giving up turkey all together on Thanksgiving, perhaps we should purchase organic options. While it may be more expensive, at least our consciences are at rest knowing the turkeys had better lives and are healthier for our bodies.

    Of course, like you’ve said in your post, non-meat options are available. Below is a link containing seven different vegan options along with reviews. It’s quite helpful for someone that’s new to veganism!

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/vegan-turkey-alternatives-taste-test-results/2011/11/18/gIQA0s8CZN_gallery.html#photo=1

    With that being said, I plan to be eating mostly mashed potatoes, gravy, corn and biscuits on Thanksgiving. I even plan on eating twice! Have a fantastic and safe Thanksgiving!

    -Trenton Chavez

    • Hi Chavez,

      I agree that it would be difficult to break the nation’s tradition of eating turkey on Thanksgiving, just like it is difficult to break the nation of supporting many other acts of cruelty to animals I have mentioned in past posts. You are right, the only thing we can do is raise awareness and that is my main goal. The problem is many people do not know what goes on behind the scenes so they do not think about it. Just like you said, you and many others have said, you forgot or did not know how the meat gets to your plate. Sometimes people just need to be informed or even reminded.

      I really liked your link on humane, organic turkeys. The thing I liked the most was it didn’t say that all organic turkey is humane. The problem is, many people think just because it is labeled “free range” or “organic” it was humanely raised or killed. Some of these labels can be deceiving, so it is important to be informed about what they actually mean and I think this article gave great advice. Here is a link I shared in an earlier post, “Have You Met Your Meat,” for some of the problems with organic or free range options.

      http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/free-range-organic-meat-myth.aspx

      Thank you for sharing!

  5. I think this was a solid article all around. I never realized how much stress turkeys go under growing up in turkey farms. However I don’t think people will ever stop eating turkey on Thanksgiving, America is based on tradition and one as popular as turkey on Thanksgiving would be very hard to break. I liked the tips from PETA they were very interesting especially the Adopt a turkey, I could see that gaining some popularity.

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