Magazine Opinions Volume 69, Issue 3

Is It Wrong to Kill Turkeys for Thanksgiving?

by Caroline Johnston

When turkeys were established as a staple Thanksgiving food, the population size of the United States was much smaller than it is today, and wild turkeys were abundant. Now, 46 million turkeys are bred in factories to be eaten on Thanksgiving each year. Since turkeys are in high demand due to the growing population, the farming conditions just keep getting worse. The tradition of eating turkeys on Thanksgiving has become outdated and unsustainable. 

 The question remains of how turkeys ended up being the main Thanksgiving food in the first place. Turkeys were chosen as a Thanksgiving food because they were native to North America, and were cheap and available for almost everyone in the United States. Now, turkeys are not being hunted and eaten after living their life in the wild; They are being artifically bred and produced solely to be slaughtered as soon as possible. While some still do hunt turkeys for Thanksgiving, most people get their turkeys by driving to the nearest grocery store and buying it. Most of the turkeys at the grocery store are filled with chemicals and antibiotics that were used to make the turkey grow as quickly as possible to increase the rate of production. It is much healthier and humane to buy a turkey that was fed a natural diet and was free range. 

The question of if it is wrong to kill turkeys has an obvious answer: yes, it is wrong because they are living creatures who are treated brutally in production. However, production conditions are terrible because there is such high demand for turkeys, so if the demand is lowered, then the conditions will improve. In a slaughterhouse, turkeys only live to be about five months old, and in the wild they live to be about four to five years old. Turkeys (and chickens), are the most cruely treated factory animals in the meat industry. The Humane Society of the U.S. has launched a campaign to get producers to adopt less gruesome practices to better the lives of the turkeys while they are alive. Insisting that nobody eat turkey for Thanksgiving is highly unrealistic; Instead, people should push for less cruel business practices and more organic and natural farming to make the meat industry more focused on the health and welfare of its animals.