If Turkeys Could Speak

I am a turkey.

You may think I’m a stupid and worthless bird.
I’m not who you think I am.
I have a purpose on this earth just like you.
Simply because you may not understand it
doesn’t make it any less meaningful.

I enjoy having my feathers stroked.
I care for my young, search for food,
take dust baths, and build nests.
You may have other interests but these are mine
and I enjoy them as much as you enjoy yours.

I am a turkey.
People have studied me and concluded I’m highly intelligent.
If I met you, I would run to greet you
and rub against you to show my affection.
That’s my nature.
Remember it when I explain what people do to me.

I’m a gentle soul.
I like to gobble, chirp, and cluck.
You may not understand it but it’s what I do.
Imagine if people who don’t understand what you do
confined, abused, and killed you because you’re different.
I think you call it genocide.

I am a turkey.
I have the ability to remember your face.
Each time you visit me, you’ll notice I can pick you out in a crowd
and I’ll run up to you first because I know you.

I defend my family from predators
but I can’t defend myself against factory workers
who kill 300 million of us every year in the United States
so people like you can eat us
when you don’t need to in order to survive.

What happens to turkeys like me?
Instead of living the full 10 years of my life,
I’m only allowed to live six months before I’m killed.
I live in a filthy and dark factory without ventilation.
I’m crammed into sheds with thousands of other turkeys.

I am a turkey.
I’m force-fed so I’ll grow three times faster than I grow naturally.
My heart and lungs can’t keep up with the growth of my body
often causing heart attacks and death.
It’s common for workers to throw me, kick me,
and even stomp on my head as they take out their aggression on me.

Many of us die of starvation or dehydration
because we can’t reach food and water stations.
I suffer from burns and blisters from the use of ammonia
and workers cut off my beak without anesthesia
so I won’t hurt other turkeys
when I go insane from the confinement.

Workers take us off trucks with forklifts
and dump us onto conveyor belts.
Many of us fall off during unloading and get crushed by machines
or die slowly from injuries.
When the factory workers are ready to kill me,
they hang me upside-down
and drag my head through an electrified stunning tank
which stops me from moving
but doesn’t kill me.

Many of us are so scared that we dodge the tank
leaving us conscious when they slit our throats.
Many times the knife only grazes our throats
failing to kill us.
We’re dumped in scalding hot water
to remove our feathers
while we’re still alive.
Factory workers have reported our screams are deafening.

t1

Do you believe paying someone
to abuse me in these ways
is the proper way to  celebrate a holiday?
Is it possible you can show us mercy
and find something else to eat?
Is supporting an industry that brutalizes animals
consistent with your values?
Does my life matter to you?

t2

Is there a reason why you can’t make simple changes in your life
to avoid supporting this industry?
If you think about what you’re doing,
you won’t do what you’re doing.
This was me.

I was  a turkey.
You know me now.
Now that you know that I live an unthinkable life
of pain and suffering
and die a horrible death,
please consider eating your meals, including Thanksgiving,
without supporting the abuse of animals.

Many years ago, Paul McCartney once said,
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls,
we would all be vegetarian.”
They do now.
Here are the glass walls.
You’ve seen the cruelty.
Now it’s up to you to make a change.
You don’t need to eat animals to survive.
Right and wrong doesn’t just matter when it’s convenient;
it matters all the time.
Forget the cultural norm and do what’s right.
You can eat food that tastes just like a turkey but isn’t an animal.
Please make a compassionate choice.
I was a turkey.

Andrew Kirschner, Ed.D., is the founder and CEO of Animal Rescue Bar, a delicious plant-based snack for health-conscious people that donates 50% of its proceeds to non-profit animal rescue and advocacy organizations. To subscribe to this blog and receive new articles via e-mail, enter your e-mail address in the “Follow Blog by E-Mail” link at the top right of the page.

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29 Responses to If Turkeys Could Speak

  1. Erica @ Cult Of Kale says:

    This is so heartbreaking, especially if you have met or bonded with a turkey. I grieve for all those precious birds who lost their lives, whose voices were never heard.

    • Deborah Blundell says:

      I agree Erica. This is indifference at a level that is unspeakable and agonising to watch. I am vegan and will fight this injustice till the day I pass.

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  4. Robyn says:

    This is beautifully written. Thanks for sharing.

  5. nicole poirier says:

    as a human being, even though i am a vegetarian, i am deeply ashamed of our insensitivity, ignorance and lazyness. this is all very sad.

  6. Knowing turkeys as well as I do, what you’ve written is extremely accurate, deeply touching, and absolutely necessary (if only humans will READ it and take it as seriously as it must be).

    There is such joy whenever I approach my turkey friends, and they recognize me! And personally, one of my favorite times is to sit with them, and one will get onto my lap, and others will snuggle around me, and then, as I pet and love them, they start PURRING!!!!

    Thank you for writing this and caring THAT much! Much love to you.

    • Thank you for the beautiful note Susie.

      I also spent time with turkeys and it changed my thought process forever. They are so gentle and precious. I could not tell the difference between them and my own dog.

      I appreciate your compassion and everything you do to help animals.

  7. Andrea says:

    This is so heartbreaking. So many people will buy and cook turkeys this Thanksgiving. Sometimes I feel hopeless and like there is no end in sight for the suffering of animals. My husband and I are vegan but most people around us do not understand or care. I share stories and show pictures and they always seem to be affected but never enough to change their ways. I hope for the sake of humanity (and animals) that someday this will all stop.

    • Debbie Blundell says:

      We are all doing our best Andrea, as my daughter (26) and myself are vegan. Change is happening, but never fast enough.xx

  8. Aduro Smith says:

    Turkeys are not slaughtered because they are misunderstood or different, they are slaughtered because they are food. FyI, it is wrong to use an image of victims of the Holocaust, comparing that human travesty to the slaughter of Turkeys that will be used to sustain the life of the humans who eat them. You people who are so agonizing with your broken heart over the turkeys ought to open a newspaper once in a while and see the real horror that is going on in the world.

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  10. Thank you for this beautiful post. Very much with you, for them.

  11. Thanksgiving is a very sad day for turkeys (and Indians – Native Americans). The best Thanksgiving I ever had was one spent at an animal sanctuary north of where I used to live in Ft. Collins, CO. We all brought vegan food. We fed the animals. The turkeys took great delight in eating their raw pumpkin pies. On the South Shore of Boston, we see wild turkeys all the time. What wonderful creatures!

    As for Aduro: I’ve been vegan for 20 years. I invite you to join me and my vegan dogs, one of whom is nearly 12 years old, for a 10 trail run in the woods, up and down rocks, over downed trees and roots. I can easily swim 2 miles in a 50 meter pool and lift weights. I don’t need animal products to sustain me, nor do my dogs and cats.

    Thank you Andrew!

    Deborah Howard
    President
    Companion Animal Protection Society

  12. Kelly says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I stopped eating meat a few years ago for health reason and over time I have come to realize that even if my health could handle the meat, I would no longer eat meat because I love animals too much. I did not know all of those details about turkeys and their way of life. It really brought things home to me. I was crying by the end of the article. I am so glad that I didn’t eat a turkey for Thanksgiving.

  13. Marlene Gregory says:

    Your writings always brings me to tears…I hope this story ” I was a Turkey” travels far & wide, and changes hearts, minds, industries and the world of turkeys forever…. praying every day.

  14. Are you familiar with the controversy surrounding Chipotle and their ad? I was just curious about your thoughts on that.

  15. Are you familiar with the controversy surrounding the Chipotle ad? I was just curious about your thoughts on that.

  16. My wish for the turkeys and for all of the animals that we abuse, mistreat, and eat is that one day everyone will be able to read what you’ve so beautifully written and agree, and go vegan.

  17. Rachel LaMell says:

    Heartbreaking, that any being should endure this level of cruelty. I like, “Is supporting an industry that brutalizes animals consistent with your values?” Absolutely not!

  18. sierrasue123 says:

    Proud to say that I will be participating in a vegan Thanksgiving dinner this year.
    Thanks for your wonderful articles Andrew.

  19. HUEY SMITH says:

    we get it….we get it…we GET IT!!!!!!!!!!!! The general PUBLIC DOES NOT…..they HAVE NO IDEA…all they know is what they SEE IN THE GROCERY STORE…if every turkey had this story and a video the consumer HAD TO READ AND WATCH…BEFORE THEY BUY A TURKEY……trust me….this horror would end…….get the word OUT…….send to the news stations….write to celebrities….60 minutes, dateline, msnbc, abc, cbs…ETC ETC..write to tv news anchors…the problem is NO ONE KNOWS THIS HAPPENS…NO ONE KNOWS TURKEYS ARE SOCIABLE….THE PUBLIC HAS NO IDEA…..show someone this story and they WOULD BE OUTRAGED…..OUTRAGED….JUST AS WE ARE.

  20. This was a powerful post!! Thank you so much for speaking for turkeys. I hope a lot of people read this and think more about what they’re eating. Celeste :)

  21. jim says:

    I plan to eat turkey more often, now

    • Hi Jim,

      That’s a common reply from people who aren’t sure how to deal with the harsh reality that they support animal agriculture. They lash out. Although the “I’m going to eat more” reply is transparent and rarely ever true, it’s a common defense mechanism intended to goad people into a mean reply so they can justify eating animals. As you can see, nobody took the bait.

      If learning that animals are abused and suffer causes you to want to do something that will abuse and cause them to suffer further, that is something you will have to reconcile in your own time. Even when I ate animals, including turkeys, I never made such a disturbing statement in the face of such brutality. Instead, I began learning the truth about animal agriculture and started making decisions that reflect compassion for animals. It was easy and rewarding. I hope in time you will do the same even if you resist reality and mercy today. Thank you for keeping an open-mind. I hope one day you have a change of heart.

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