Why I Heart Turkeys (and Don't Eat Them)
Even though I was a vegan and had just been hired at PETA, my first trip to an animal sanctuary surprised me. While there (and enjoying an all vegan Thanksgiving feast!), I met a couple of turkeys named Amelia and Aubrey—who had been rescued from slaughter and who had unique personalities, and who, above all else, just wanted some love.
Amelia just wanted everyone to pet her—and she even fell asleep while one PETA staffer did so. And Aubrey had the biggest personality at the farm, following everyone and demanding attention. I left the sanctuary that day knowing a lot more about turkeys—and it broke my heart to think that so many people regard them as little more than dead Thanksgiving mascots.
Did you know …
- When not forced to live on filthy factory farms, turkeys spend their days caring for their young, building nests, foraging for food, taking dust baths, and roosting high in trees.
- In nature, turkeys stay with their moms for the first five months of their lives!
- The natural lifespan of the turkey is up to 10 years, but on factory farms they are slaughtered when they’re just 5 months old.
- Erik Marcus, the author of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating, has spent a considerable amount of time with turkeys on farm sanctuaries. He reports, “Turkeys remember your face and they will sit closer to you with each day you revisit. Come back day after day and, before long, a few birds will pick you out as their favorite and they will come running up to you whenever you arrive.”
So if the thought of eating a corpse isn’t enough to persuade you to skip turkey this Thanksgiving, maybe the thought of eating an animal as unique, friendly, and cute as your dog or cat might do the trick. If you still need help convincing your fam—check this out!