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  • Writer's pictureAshlyn

Reasons to Leave Turkey off your Plate This Thanksgiving

On a traditional American Thanksgiving plate, turkey is usually the main centerpiece. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that nearly 224 million turkeys are killed each year. Of those, about 45 million are killed for Thanksgiving meals, according to the National Turkey Federation. However, this does not have to be the case. You can have a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with no turkey involved. In fact, it’s actually better for you (and the turkeys!) Here are ten reasons why you should leave turkey off your plate this Thanksgiving!

1. Turkeys Have Unique Personalities

Turkeys form strong bonds with other turkeys, and even with humans and other animals. They enjoy playing with round objects they can kick and roll and are naturally very curious. Sadly, commercial turkeys never get the opportunity to spread their wings, run around in the grass, or be treated kindly. These birds are forced to live in dark, overcrowded buildings where they are often mistreated and ultimately slaughtered.

2. Factory Farmed turkeys are kept in horrible conditions

Domestic turkeys bred for meat are forced to live in cramped conditions inside dark sheds with nowhere to roam, forage, or build a nest. Any inkling of normalcy is stripped from them. Turkeys are packed into dark buildings with dim artificial lighting by the hundreds, even thousands. Instead of grass, these birds—who are considered “cage-free”—stomp on concrete or straw within the buildings. Those who are not “lucky” enough to be cage-free are confined to wire enclosures until they are slaughtered.

3. Turkeys Are Affectionate

Turkeys enjoy being snuggled and stroked just like the companion animals we know and love. Fun fact: They even purr as a sign of contentment!

4. Unsanitary conditions

Conditions inside factory farms are so cramped, stressful, and filthy. Infections are common since thousands of birds are packed into one common living space without proper care. The large buildings housing the turkeys are never properly cleaned, so birds are forced to live in their own excrement. Most American turkeys are given antibiotics to reduce the risk of spreading Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter, E. coli, and other bacteria to humans. Despite these efforts, drug-resistant strains of these bacteria are still infecting people around the country, which leads us to our next point.

5. Turkey Meat Recalls

Turkey meat product recalls are very common, despite the excessive use of antibiotics by farmers. Birds are fed antibiotics to promote growth and prevent the spread of bacteria but are forced to live in their own excrement inside bacteria-filled buildings. These conditions increase the transmission of bacterial infections, which in turn contaminate the turkey products that humans consume. And what’s just as concerning, as antibiotic-resistant bacteria get stronger, more human lives will be endangered.

6. Horrible Working Conditions on Turkey Farms

Not only is turkey farming bad for the turkeys, but it’s also commonly a nightmare for workers as well. In industrial agriculture, expectations are high to work quickly and process as much meat as possible. When production speeds are increased, animals are not the only ones who are injured; the physical and mental health of workers is often compromised. Fractured fingers, second-degree burns, and head trauma are among the potential injuries workers face every day.

7. It poses significant risks to your health

Doctors have warned about the dangers of consuming processed meats for years, but somehow turkey and chicken are still considered “healthy choices.” This is far from the case. Processed meat consumption has been linked to increased colorectal and stomach cancer risks as well as heart disease.


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