The consumption of turkeys in the U.S. has escalated through the years. It’s no longer eaten primarily at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but throughout the year. The process of mass-producing turkeys for human consumption is as barbaric, if not more so, than the process of mass-producing chickens.
Turkeys are kept in cramped, dark spaces to discourage the naturally aggressive behaviors that occur when an animal is kept confined without space to roam and feed freely. They’re overfed to the point where their legs can’t support the weight of the breast tissue. And this animal which normally has a 10-years life span is generally slaughtered at about 2 years of age.
Unhealthy and overcrowded conditions mean that disease amongst commercial turkeys is widespread, resulting in approximately 2.7 million turkeys dying in their sheds every year. Foot and leg deformities, heat stress and starvation caused by the inability of immature birds to find the feed and water troughs are commonplace. Ulcerated feet and hock burns are common – caused by continual contact with litter contaminated by urine and feces.
Can you really sit at dinner on your next holiday and look at a roasted turkey the same way? Turkeys come with the same recommendations for cleanliness and cooking that chickens do. You have to be sure they’re cooked to a specific temperature to ensure that any disease-causing bacteria are completely killed. You should clean up any counter space with bleach, again to kill all bacteria.
It makes a compelling case for switching to a vegetarian diet, doesn’t it? Suddenly, the jokes about vegetarian dinners, with nut loaves and vegetables, instead of meat, seem to make more sense, not only from a health standpoint, but from a humane issue as well. Why do we persist in eating in such a way that makes us unhealthy and is inherently bad for us? For you next holiday dinner, consider the possibilities of an all-vegetarian menu. So much of the dinner is vegetable-based to begin with; it’s a small change to replace turkey with a plant-based main course as well.