It’s Thanksgiving time and the food most associated with this holiday is turkey for a good portion of Americans. It used to be for me as well even though I always thought on its own, turkey was tasteless and it took a lot of work to inject flavor into and over it. Since I went plant-based almost seven years ago I relieved myself from the expectation of eating it any longer. Here I’ll share some things to consider when consuming turkeys along with some alternative Thanksgiving options to consider.
Turkey is big business of course and you can see this with the effort to grow and slaughter turkeys as large as possible in the shortest time frame to meet demands. It’s simply staggering to see how turkeys have been manipulated and as you will see in a 78 year period their average weight gain has skyrocketed via the USDA.
- 1929 – 13.2 pounds
- 1967 – 18.2 pounds (41% larger)
- 2007 – 29.2 pounds (121% increase…over double…what the heck?!?!)
The last statistic is from 2007. I wonder what it is now…
Dr. Michael Greger noted turkeys have “been transformed into a flightless butterball so top-heavy they are physically incapable of mating (necessitating artificial insemination). Turkeys are bred to grow so fast, a group of veterinary researchers concluded, ‘they are on the verge of structural collapse.’”
Dr. Greger also cited, “Commercial breeds may outgrow their cardiovascular systems as well as their skeletons. Modern-day turkeys have been bred to grow so fast that up to 6% simply drop dead from acute heart failure at just a few months of age.” With growers being paid by the pound we see the rise of turkey size by a whopping 121% in the 78 year period.
What the heck are they doing to these birds to get them this size?!?!?
If you see or hear the term, “free-range” or “free roaming” don’t be fooled. The definition from the USDA simply states, “Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.” Open up a small factory farm window and call it a day…. This is self regulated by the way…
Conditions are pretty rough through the processing of these turkeys to the end product for consumers. Dr. Greger also noted, “Every year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tests the U.S. retail meat supply for the presence of fecal bacteria. When consumers think of manure in ground meat, hamburger comes to mind, but the latest survey found only 7 out of 10 samples of beef positive for E. coli, compared to more like 9 out of 10 samples of turkey, including the type blamed for human urinary tract infections.”
Besides poultry’s link to cancers, heart disease, leukemia and the list goes on – processed meats, like deli turkey for example, have been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization. You can’t get any higher than this Group 1 cancer link…
There are alternatives however. Search Google, Instagram and other sources for recipes and while searching the internet I did find a couple ideas to share you can consider:
- 6 Best Vegan and Vegetarian Turkey Substitutes for Thanksgiving
- Whole Foods – Vegan Holiday (full meal options)
- The Happy Pear Vegan Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake
- Quick & Crispy Turkey-less Stuffed Roast (via Trader Joe’s…I’m trying this one this year)
I am thankful for finding healthy food options in my life while also being compassionate to animals.
– Add Health to Your Life
*Feature photo of me plumped up like our current turkeys at a tailgate (pre-vegan) with a 327 cholesterol and feeling like crap. I didn’t have a photo of me with a turkey but my sister Jamie always called me one as a kid so I’m the turkey here.