It’s almost Thanksgiving 46 million turkeys It would be killed and cooked for people’s dinner tables – the equivalent of the entire population of California. This is followed by another 22m on christmas and else 19 million at Easter. Turks have, for whatever reason, become a cultural staple on major holidays. But this dependence on turkey is costly – for ourselves, the birds and the planet as a whole.
according to Research from Carnegie Mellon UniversityThe total carbon footprint of a 16-pound turkey is 34.2 pounds of CO2—the same amount as biscuit rolls, turkey gravy, roast Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and apple pie combined. An estimated 786,600 tons of carbon dioxide is released when the majority of the world buys turkey on Thanksgiving, which is equivalent to the annual energy use of 100,000 homes.
Then there is the problem of food waste. According to the US Department of AgricultureIt is estimated that consumers waste about 35 percent of the turkeys purchased, increasing the environmental impact of turkeys by 54 percent. Not only is meat not eaten, but it is generally taken to landfill, where it takes up space, like other waste, and releases more greenhouse gases as it decomposes.
While turkey is generally the environmentally worst item on the table, foods like butter, milk and cheese also produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide. The best option for environmentally conscious consumers is vegan meals. according to Nutritionist Kate Gigan“It has been consistently shown that plant foods have lower carbon footprints – so those nuts, chestnuts, mushrooms, etc. are much more efficient in producing total resources than traditional animal products, especially red meat.”
And carbon dioxide emissions aren’t the only way eating turkey affects us and the world. Because they are raised for slaughter, the vast majority of the 46 million turkeys that make up our Thanksgiving dinners are under appalling conditions. Most are locked in small cages, which are generally not cleaned during their short lives, leaving them to live off their waste. Many turkeys beat their bloody chest against the bars of the cages in a desperate attempt to return to their natural habitat.
Source: Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock
Unsurprisingly, in these conditions, many birds get sick. The meat industry is “fixing” this problem by introducing antibiotics into the animal’s food supply, which can prevent diseases and make them grow faster.
Anyone who has ever received an antibiotic from a doctor knows that you receive very specific instructions on how to take the medication: You should take it for several days, no more, no less, even if your symptoms go away. This is to prevent the bacteria from developing resistance to the antibiotic, in which case that particular antibiotic is no longer effective against the disease. But when a large portion of our food supply — and Thanksgiving dinners — contains a large amount of antibiotics, unregulated by medical professionals, bacteria can quickly and easily develop immunity.
Source: Jun Goto / YouTube
And that’s exactly what was happening. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2.8 million people in the United States develop antibiotic-resistant infections, and more than 35,000 people die from these infections. The CDC confirmed a link between these deaths and factory farming practices.
Fortunately for us, there are many alternatives to eating turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Lasagna, stuffed squash, and vegetable pot pie are classic vegetarian options to try at the dinner table. For those reluctant to forgo traditional flavours, there are also vegetarian meat options, such as the widely acclaimed Tofurkey. There are endless ways to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal without real turkey.
Easy ways to help the planet:
- Eat less meat: Download Food monster, the largest vegan recipe app on the App Store to help reduce your footprint on the environment, save animals and stay healthy. You can also purchase a hard copy or electronic copy Favorite vegan cookbooks.
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