Don't eat turkey this Christmas

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Don’t eat turkey this Christmas

by Chris Grezo, a writer who believes that politics and global justice are closely linked. He believes there are ethical reasons to be vegan or vegetarian, and environmental and economic reasons. Chris is active in the animal rights movement, and he supports Iranian exiles in their fight for a democratic and liberal Iran.

Christmas should be about being kind. It should not be about no sleep, destroyed bodies, broken legs, stress or very crowded, unhygienic conditions. This is what most Christmas turkeys have to suffer. Most turkeys are so stressed that many of them refuse to eat and die from starvation. These turkeys probably suffer the least.

Turkeys are far more intelligent than people think they are, and they deserve better. From research, we know that wild turkeys use 30 different sounds to communicate. They have different sounds to talk about different types of snake, to call all turkeys together, or to warn others that a young chick is lost.

We need to challenge the idea that birds are worthless objects and we can treat them any way we like. Crows from New Caledonia can make and use tools, different tools for different jobs. Some scientists believe these crows make more complex tools than chimpanzees. Some parrots can solve mathematical problems, and cormorants can count up to eight. These examples are a very small part of the evidence for intelligence of birds.


As well as intelligence, birds also care for other types of animals. One example is when a white pigeon adopted a baby macaque monkey with no mother. The pigeon looked after the sad monkey, and became just like its mother, helping the baby develop. If a ‘simple’ pigeon can show this love for an animal from another species, shouldn’t we be able to do the same? Do these animals really deserve electrocution, boiling, destroying, drugging and killing?

The living conditions of most Christmas turkeys are so crowded that their beaks and toes are cut off with pliers to stop them attacking each other. No anaesthetics are used.

Modern turkeys breed too much and are given drugs to grow as fast as possible. This often causes body organs to stop working, leg problems and heart attacks. If the turkeys don’t grow fast enough, they are killed after a few weeks, to make more money. These turkeys have never seen sunlight.

If the turkeys survive this, they are taken by ship to be killed. Sometimes there are 2,000 of them in one truck. They are thrown in like baggage at an airport. Of course, many legs are broken, but this type of abuse will always happen when an industry treats animals as objects. Every year on the trucks, millions of turkeys die from heat, cold or accidents.

When the turkeys arrive at the industrial slaughterhouse, the birds are hung by their legs (even if their legs are broken). Their heads are electrocuted to stun them. Some of the birds miss the electrocution. This means they are still conscious when their necks are cut with mechanical saws, or when boiling water is sprayed on them to remove their feathers.

For a long time, we have had scientific evidence that there is absolutely no need to eat meat. It is a completely unnecessary choice. Is all this death and suffering really necessary just for the difference in taste between turkey and a nut roast? Do the right thing this Christmas, and have some more pudding instead.

As this article has been simplified, the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed. For the original, please see: