Turkeys are a seriously underrated animal. Misinformation and silly urban myths (remember the one about drowning in the rain?!) about the species have persisted for decades, but the truth is, they’re intelligent, affectionate birds who deserve freedom and respect.
Tragically, Thanksgiving is a horror show for these special animals. 45 million are butchered every year, just to make their way onto dinner plates. With all the mouthwatering meat alternatives these days, there’s no need for this gory tradition to continue; we can eat delicious plant-based feasts and let these quirky, good-natured animals live.
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The bottom line is, turkeys are way too awesome to end up as drumsticks, and here are six reasons why:
- They have incredible eyesight. Turkeys have a field of vision that ranges about 270 degrees, and can see in full color. In fact, their vision covers a wider range of wavelengths than ours — they can even see ultraviolet light. Overall, turkeys are said to have eyesight that’s approximately three times better than a human’s (not to mention that they can rotate their heads almost all the way around).
- They’re speedy. Wild turkeys make Brendan Brazier look lazy — they can run at speeds up to 25 miles per hour. When flying, it’s up to 55 miles per hour over short distances. Sadly, factory farmed turkeys are bred to grow unnaturally large, and therefore cannot fly. Squashed into sheds and slaughtered while still young, they’re also never given the chance to run.
- They love hugs. Turkeys are affectionate, sensitive animals. In farmed sanctuaries across the world, they’re often the most beloved of residents. They love to be petted, held, and even hugged. Take Thomas T. Butterball. His death, back in January, made the local paper in East Niagara, New York. “With hundreds of appearances at events, Tom had developed a fan base of many, young and old who would specifically come to pet or visit Tom,” the paper reported. And Tom’s not the only one.
- They change colors. Their necks do, anyway. This spot on a male turkey can change hues based on the bird’s frame of mind. When calm, they’re gray or blue. When excited or angry, they turn red. In other words, turkeys wear their heart on their neck.
- They love music. Chloe, a former resident turkey at California’s Gentle Barn sanctuary, was renowned for her dancing skills. Turkeys have also been known to gobble along with songs.
- They talk. Just because they don’t speak in words, doesn’t mean they don’t speak. Scientists have found more than 20 distinct vocalizations in wild turkeys, and the birds recognize each other based on their unique voices. They even make a soft “purring” sound — typically a sign of contentment.
There’s much more to turkeys than the myths some of us believe, as anyone who’s met one of these remarkable birds can attest! With Thanksgiving approaching, now’s the time to give them the credit they deserve — and choose a meatless feast, instead. Check out our library of recipes for easy and delicious meal ideas!
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