USA Today on Farm Sanctuary's Turkey Efforts

On November 26, USA Today ran a very positive profile of Farm Sanctuary’s efforts to convince people to stop eating turkey for Thanksgiving.

The story featured a profile of Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-a-Turkey program, noting that,

Each Thanksgiving, Farm Sanctuary sees surges in turkey adoptions (around 50; they’re adopted in pairs or more because they get lonely) and sponsorships (more than 1,000), in which a $15 donation toward the care and feeding of the bird gets you a color photo of your [turkey] . . .

Of course as even the USA Today reporter was forced to concede, that is 50 turkeys adopted by Farm Sanctuary vs. 45 million turkeys that were eaten for Thanksgiving — as many as 95 percent of American households will include turkey as at least part of the Thanksgiving meal.

USA Today mentioned Florida’s largely irrelevant vote in favor of a ban on gestation crates for pigs, which Farm Sanctuary played a major role in promoting. It failed to mention, however, Farm Sanctuary’s numerous violations of Florida election laws.

Farm Sanctuary’s Gene Bauston told USA Today (emphasis added),

Farm animals everywhere are subject to a lot of cruelty. But once Americans know about a problem and see how behind the times we are, they usually move to stop it.

Once Americans know that Farm Sanctuary considers itself about state election laws, maybe they’ll move to stop donating to and supporting it as well.


Plucked from the platter. Marco R. della Cava, USA Today, November 26, 2002.

Should Animal Rights Advocates Start Promoting Beef?

Earlier this week I mentioned that I though the veggie burger being offered by Burger King was doomed to failure — despite claims by some overenthusiastic vegans and vegetarians, there is no great movement among the general population to foreswear meat. This is confirmed, ironically, by statistics from animal rights activists themselves.

Alex Hershaft, who had posted to an animal rights e-mail list about the importance of Burger King veggie burger, also recently posted statistics to the same e-mail list demonstrating why the veggie burger will fail.

In 1980, per capita consumption of meat in the United Stats was 196 pounds. By 1990, that had risen to 201 pounds, and in 2001 hit 209 pounds, according to the USDA Economic Research Service.

Consumption in beef and pork products are expected to decline somewhat over the next 10 years, but largely because people are expected to eat more chicken and turkey.

Hershaft tries to spin the change as also being due to increased vegetarian/vegan options,

Consumption is now leveling off, reflecting market saturation and increase consumer interest in meat alternatives like veggie burgers, soy dogs, and soy lunch ‘meats.’

The reality is, however, that after 20 years of trying to convince Americans to adopt vegetarian lifestyles, the animal rights movement hasn’t even made a small dent in meat consumption, with the biggest consumer change being eating more chicken and turkey rather than beef and pork.

Ironically, the switch to chicken and turkey will mean a massive increase in the total number of animals killed. Assuming the USDA is correct in its estimates here is how the numbers would change over the next ten years (these are very rough estimates intended only to show the magnitude of change):

Cows killed: -4.2 million
Pigs killed: -4.7 million
Chickens killed: +639 million
Turkeys killed: +31 million
Net: +661.1 million animals

If the animal rights movement really wants to minimize the total number of animals killed for meat, it should start with a campaign addressed to American consumers to the effect that if they are going to eat meat, the most humane option is beef. Just don’t hold your breath waiting.


2002 Death Statistics (PDF). Farm USA, Winter/Spring 2002.

More than 10 billion animals killed for food in the U.S. Alex Hershaft e-mail, accessed April 24, 2002.

US animal flesh consumption at 209 lbs. Alex Hershaft, e-mail, Accessed April 24, 2002.

PETA: Save the Turkeys and Stop the Rodeos

No Thanksgiving would be complete without People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals urging people to forego the turkey in favor of tofu. This year, the animal rights group faxed letters to the top 50 Fortune 500 urging them companies who give employees turkeys to offer tofu substitutes for their vegetarian employees. The only problem being few if any companies still give employees turkeys for Thanksgiving. Several corporations contacted by the Associated Press about the fax said simply they don’t give their employees food — and most large companies already have vegetarian options on the menu in their cafeterias.

The National Turkey Federation told the Associated Press it estimates that about 45 million turkeys will be eaten this Thanksgiving. So far PETA isn’t making any dent in the consumption of turkey at Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile on another front, PETA continues its streak of sexually risque billboards with an attack on rodeos. The billboards were to have featured a voluptuous bond with text saying, “Nobody Likes an Eight-Second Ride. Buck the Rodeo.” Unfortunately, when PETA wanted to place the billboards in the Tucson, Arizona area to mark a rodeo there, it couldn’t find anyone willing to sell it space for the billboard.

PETA must employ a cadre of 13 year old boys to write these stupid ads.


PETA asks big companies to give employees meatless turkeys. Sonja Barisic, The Associated Press, November 14, 2000.

“Nobody Likes an Eight-Second Ride” Ad Was to Target Desert Thunder Pro-Rodeo. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Press Release, October 10, 2000.

Animal Rights Activists Take On Thanksgiving

As the United States prepares
to celebrate Thanksgiving, animal rights activists are busy trying to
make their case that meat eating in general, and the eating of turkeys
specifically, is cruel and unnecessary.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals launched a special undercover investigative report on its web
site claiming to document cruelty at a turkey farm in Minnesota. PETA
urged people to write Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and other officials
with complaints about animal cruelty.

Interestingly, even PETA seems
to be recognizing that it has a credibility gap with its undercover investigations
after repeatedly providing misinformation and selectively edited videotapes
in previous undercover operations. A letter from Mary Beth Sweetland,
PETA’s Director of Research, Investigations & Rescue Department, to
a Minnesota prosecutor specifically mentions that the videotape of the
investigation is “a first-generation copy of the original videographic

No word yet on whether or not
Minnesota officials are investigating the case.

Meanwhile United Poultry Concerns
is going to protest the annual White House Thanksgiving ceremony. Keeping
with tradition, a live turkey will be presented at the White House and
President Clinton will then “pardon” the turkey.

According to UPC’s Karen Davis,
“Instead of sarcastically ‘pardoning’ a turkey to palliate mass murder,
food poisoning, moldering carcasses and rotting politics, we urge people
to join us in marching to a different drumstick this Thanksgiving and
Eat Happy.”

A UPC press release on the
protest also claimed the pardoning ceremony was designed to “make fun
of turkeys.”

Meanwhile, to celebrate Thanksgiving,
PETA will be in Baltimore giving away fur coats to the homeless. The coats
have been donated to PETA over the years and have a red stripe painted
on one of the sleeves to make them worthless for resale.

Here’s my suggestion for PETA
next year. Why not get a bunch of people to donate Thanksgiving turkeys,
put a red food die stripe down the middle and pass them out as well? Couldn’t


Turkey Advocates
Will Protest Presidential “Pardoning” Ceremony
, United Poultry Concerns
press release, November 1999.

Turkey Farm Cruelty:
The Case
, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals letter, November
18, 1999.

Peta To
Give Away Fur Coats To Baltimore’s Homeless
, People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals press release, November 22, 1999.