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Thanksgiving without Turkey?  A valid argument for jumping the bird.

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Thanksgiving without Turkey? A valid argument for jumping the bird.

| Top stories | abc News

If you eat turkey on Thanksgiving, Karen Davis isn’t the guest you want at your table.

The president of United Poultry Concerns and a tireless advocate of chickens, turkeys and other farmed poultry, Davis can spout out details and stats on how turkeys are raised and “harvested” (the industry talks about slaughter) that are guaranteed to curb – or kill – your appetite. But she’ll be satisfied with three big reasons to skip the turkey this Thanksgiving: “Animal cruelty, disease, filth – toxic waste under the conditions birds are forced to live in.”

According to the US Department of Agriculture, nearly 230 million turkeys were shot in 2018 – more than the number of Americans fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at present. Food production on this scale does not occur in an idyllic agricultural setting; this occurs in concentrated animal feed operations (CAFO). The Environmental Protection Agency requires that a small CAFO be limited to 16,500 turkeys, while a large one can contain 55,000 or more.

At Davis Sanctuary in Virginia – home of Tyson and Perdue – turkeys and chickens run free. “Turkeys like to run. They are great walkers. But turkeys raised for the turkey meat industry are so disproportionate, with that big, heavy breast. Their fingernails are cut, so they cannot adhere to the ground well, ”she said. And anyway, they have nowhere to go. Their brief lives are spent confined “from mouth to butt”.

Many turkeys in a single cramped space produce an impressive amount of waste. “Imagine 10,000 birds in a factory building. Imagine these huge factory buildings, one after another. Imagine if you could see that, hear that, smell that, ”said Samantha Ragsdale, senior director of education and research at Farm Sanctuary, an animal welfare organization. Feel? Oh yes. “The factory warehouses are full of ammonia,” she added. “This concentration of urine and animal feces is toxic to the animals themselves, to the workers, and it all ends up seeping into our groundwater.”

“People don’t get it,” Davis said. “Suffering and illness are linked. Cruelty and contamination are linked. She can connect the dots for you in great detail, but suffice to say, it’s not nice for turkeys.

It’s not nice to you either. That stomach flu you got on vacation? It may not be the flu, according to Davis. It could be a foodborne illness caused by eating undercooked turkey contaminated with Salmonella, Campylobacter or E. coli. “Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea – these are bacterial infections. You put yourself in danger, ”she added.

A far cry from how we usually see turkeys at the Thanksgiving table, a turkey is served at a kale dinner at the 2018 “Honoring of the Turkeys” at Farm Sanctuary, an animal welfare organization.

Well, you say, United Poultry Concerns and Farm Sanctuary are animal rights organizations; of course they will try to take my Thanksgiving turkey. But the risk of foodborne illness is real. According to the USDA, 48 million people get food poisoning every year, one million from salmonella alone. A quarter of these cases are due to spoiled chicken or turkey.

If all of this makes you want to cook a turkey this year, don’t worry, there are other options. “We have so many other wonderful choices that don’t cause pain,” Davis said. “We can do and be so much better. So don’t yawn your yum. Let’s talk about how to do it:

  • If you’ve been hosting the same crowd for years, your guests will expect the same menu, especially since the pandemic has canceled so many celebrations. Let the guests know in advance. Help reduce their anxiety and encourage them to be part of a new, progressive, turkey-free Thanksgiving tradition.

  • Instead of turkey, offer dishes made with corn, cranberries, and other native foods served on this first Thanksgiving feast. And you’re in luck, “A gathering basket, a multi-series multimedia cookbook of indigenous recipes from I-Collective, just got out. To catch “To assemble, ” a new Netflix film on Indigenous Food Sovereignty as well.

  • Turkey is not the only holiday dish. Davis and Ragsdale each make their own version of shepherd’s pie (without mutton). They are umami, filling, filling, and Instagram worthy. Davis’s recipe, which features lentils for meat and protein, bears the adorable name of Mrs. Gobblegood’s Golden Pie.

  • Worried about missing that apocryphal tryptophan high after the feast? Fear not, there’s tryptophan galore in dairy, so butter that mashed potato and put another dollop of whipped cream on top of that pumpkin pie. Tryptophan, which essential amino acid for happiness, is also found in seeds, oats, and something else enjoyed at that first Thanksgiving feast – nuts.

  • If you want to keep turkey a tradition on your Thanksgiving, don’t eat it – adopt it through a place like Farm Sanctuary, or become a turkey Guardian through The sweet barn.

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