Thanksgiving is a time to reflect upon all the good things one has in life, but many people don’t realize that this custom hides a violence that must stop.
Eating turkey has become the accepted meal choice with little thought to the brutality that surrounds the bird’s life. There is often an assumption that turkeys lead normal lives on farms before their slaughter but the reality is far different.
Turkeys are jammed into long, windowless barracks that are so severely overcrowded that they develop skeletal deformities from their extreme confinement. Understandably they become aggressive with one another, but rather than give them space to move, industrial farmers cut off their toes and their beaks, all without anesthesia, causing excruciating pain and suffering.
They are forced to live in their own waste breathing ammonia fumes so strong it makes your eyes water. They develop respiratory diseases, ulcerated feet, blistered skin and burned eyes and throats.
Turkeys are genetically modified to grow big as fast as possible in order to yield the highest price. It would be the same as taking a six-pound human baby and turning her into 1,500 pounds in 18 weeks. Their bones are too weak to support their weight causing leg deformities and joint pain so extreme that they are often forced to walk on their wings just to reach food and water.
“Free-Range” and “Humanely Raised” are misleading labels meant to mollify the public. Most free-range farms offer outdoor pens, but in harsh weather, there is seldom adequate indoor space to escape freezing temperatures, sleet or snow. They are still de-beaked and de-toed, and are bred to become painfully overweight, developing congestive heart and lung diseases and enlarged livers.
When turkeys go to slaughter, they are still young, some only three months old. None ever see their first birthday, despite the fact that in nature they can live to beyond 20 years. Workers grab them by their feet upside down, violently jam them into crates and put them on trucks without food, water or any protection from the elements.
In the slaughtering plants, turkeys often have their throats slit while still conscious, hanging upside down. Those who miss the automated knife, and many do, are scalded to death in the de-feathering tank. There are no laws to protect them from this barbaric treatment.
There are significant human costs to eating turkey. At least three million Americans get sick from eating poultry every year. Over-use of antibiotics in factory farms leads to the development of antibiotic-resistant super-bugs.
Not only are PCBs, dioxins, arsenic and several cancer-casing poisons contained in animal feed, but it also includes the ground-up bodies of diseased turkeys. They are given arsenic to kill parasites and enhance their pink flesh color, becoming the biggest cause of arsenic in our food and water supply. Fresh turkey contains BPA, a plastic that is linked to hormonal disorders.
There are four good reasons to choose plant-based alternatives: they are healthy for humans, good for the environment, less expensive and kinder to animals. Let’s add kindness and compassion into our Thanksgiving by keeping turkeys off of our plates.