Rescued turkeys at Farm Sanctuary
Millions of turkeys are eaten each year, mostly at Christmas. Welfare charity Viva! reports that sometimes up to 25,000 turkeys are kept in one large shed. Although not naturally aggressive, these beautiful creatures end up fighting, as they are so stressed. Compassion in World Farming wants turkeys kept in much smaller numbers with more space and light, and more ventilation.
Turkey is one of the most widely eaten foods on earth. Native to Latin America, these intelligent birds can remember other turkeys and people for up to a year. You can tell males and females apart by their poop (J-poops are male, females are spiral!) The snood (wattle) under the chin is pale if a turkey is ill, but goes bright red if liking a mate. Turkeys have good eyesight and hear well (though they have no external ears). But they have no teeth, so need two stomachs to digest food.
In nature, turkeys can run at high speeds and fly up to low branches at night, hopping up to find a safe place to sleep (they have many natural predators). Even the story of Bird Bird from Sesame Street is sad: often thought of as a big canary, he was in fact based on a turkey: his costume was made from thousands of dyed-yellow turkey feathers, likely slaughtered.
Jamie Oliver’s campaign led to Turkey Twizzlers (up to 40 ingredients including pork fat) being banned for school dinners, although they have recently been reintroduced. The Children’s Food Campaign says the fact it took 15 years to reformulate them, shows ‘what a truly terrible product’ it was – and still recommends avoiding them.
Bernard Matthews began his business after hatching turkeys in his dining room, rearing them in the bedroom and having them slaughtered in the kitchens. Yet the multi-million business does not use profits to support free-range turkey farming (one undercover investigation found workers ‘playing football with live turkeys’ and there were issues with reporting bird flu).
You don’t need to eat turkey for the amino acid tryptophan (you would have to eat mountains of it, to have any effect). The reason turkey ‘makes you sleepy’ is likely from eating a big dinner and alcohol. Turkeys (and all barnyard creatures) have legal rights. Report concerns to RSPCA (can be anonymous).
Recipes for Plant-Based Turkey
Try this Stuffed ‘No Turkey’ from Welsh chef Gaz Oakley. Keep these meals away from pets, due to toxic ingredients like soy, garlic, onion and mushrooms. Keep ice packs away from pets/children for online orders (recycle packaging with household waste or at supermarket bag bins).
Ultimate Tofurkey Roast (Full of Plants) is filled with spinach, sauteed mushrooms and lentils, wrapped in a tender tofu crust. Packed with flavour and high in protein.
Where to Buy Vegan Turkey
VBites Trky Roast makes an ideal Sunday roast for the family or festive season. A great centrepiece for a roast dinner, serve with rosemary-roasted potatoes, vegan gravy and stuffing. Once open, eat within 2 days. This is free from palm oil and kosher/halal. Also look in shops for Vbites Turkey Slices and VBites Sage & Onion Slices (made from wheat gluten and onion powder).