Thanksgiving is only weeks away and once again a holiday
that is so associated with the eating of a specific animal that it is
often called "Turkey Day" and pictures of the birds are used over and over in ads,
decorations, recipes and all kinds of references to the holiday. At Mid-Hudson
vegetarian Society we ask you to take a few minutes, read this article and
consider going "Turkey Free in 2003".
Do you eat turkey on Thanksgiving? Almost certainly, yes.
Do you think about how that turkey lived and died?
We know the turkeys we eat were once alive, but most
people do not know how they lived. Here are five facts about the lives of farmed
1. They are kept in cages, so they canít run around and
peck at the ground for food. So, they peck at each other. The growers
"debeak" them using hot irons and no anesthesia. What if your fingernails were pulled
out if you got in a fight?
2. They are injected with antibiotics because their
crowded conditions breed disease. What if you had to get a shot because your school
hallways or workplace were too crowded?
3. They get hormone shots so they will grow faster than
their genetics decree (most people want mostly turkey breast). The turkeys grow
so fast that the stress on their bones causes much pain. What if it was
decided no one could get hired or attend school unless he or she were at least 6í
5" and 300 pounds?
4. Crowded together in their cages, their waste products
fall to the floor. Ammonia fumes are formed which they and the workers
breathe constantly. What if their were no restroom at work or school ?Ė (letís not go
5. At the beginning of their lives baby turkeys never see
their mothers who would protect and care for them. At the end of their
short, sad, unnatural and painful lives they are transported to the slaughterhouse
in unheated or unairconditioned trucks without food or water. What if you
never knew your family and were cold and uncomfortable all your life?
Many might answer: "Thatís true, but how can you have
Thanksgiving without a turkey?" We had mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes,
stuffing (it does not have to be made inside a turkey) cranberries, several
kinds of vegetables and pumpkin pie along with many other desserts made without
animal products. Some people use a "tofurkey" (made with tofu) but others don't
feel a need to replace the turkey as there are do many delicious dishes
from which to choose. In addition to being delicious, a vegan Thanksgiving is
cholesterol free, lower in total fat and high in fiber. We are thankful for each
other and that no animals have to die in order for us to celebrate.
There is much cruelty in the raising and slaughter of all
farmed animals today. In the United States we kill 10,000,000,000 animals
for food each year. No, that is not a misprint. Ten Billions cattle, chickens,
ducks, turkeys, lambs and pigs are killed each year. This count does not even
include fish who also feel pain and suffer.
Do you want to learn more about this? Here are some
websites to check out: United Poultry Concerns, Inc
here is an
excerpt from a longer article on their website Ė more sites listed at the
Like their wild relatives, domestic turkeys are unsuited
to the harsh turkey confinement systems in which 15,000 or more birds with
three square feet of floor space each are forced to sit and stand in filthy
litter, breathing burning ammonia fumes and lung-destroying dust. They develop
respiratory diseases, ulcerated feet, blistered breasts, and ammonia-burned
They're loaded with vaccines, antibiotics, sulfonamides, mycins, and
tetracyclines. In 1991, International Hatchery Practice reported that, "[T]he last
decade has thrown up numerous examples of new diseases" in turkeys including
rhinotracheitis, paramyxovirus 2, and Salmonella enteritidis -- a major new
bacterial source of human food poisoning that can cause arthritis, blood disease,
impaired immunity, and death. The weekly agribusiness newspaper Feedstuffs (Sept.
9, 1991) says turkeys now suffer from a "combination of problems." For
example, "[I]n recent years turkeys have been bred to grow faster and heavier
but their skeletons haven't kept pace. They have problems standing, and fall
and are trampled on or seek refuge under feeders."
commercially-bred turkeys develop congestive heart and lung disease accompanied by
engorged coronary vessels, distended fluid-filled pericardial sac, abdominal fluid,
and a gelatin-covered enlarged congested liver. Their hearts explode. Consumers
could eat a diseased turkey or turkey part for dinner. In November
1991, the Associated Press reported that "Researchers are looking for ways to keep
afflicted birds alive long enough to get them to market."