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Five Reasons Not to Gobble a Turkey Burger

Posted by at 4:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)


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Turkey burgers are showing up on the menus of more restaurants these days. In fact, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. have just added them to their list of offerings, becoming the first major fast-food restaurants to do so (the two chains are owned by the same company). But all the reasons not to order a beef burger are true for turkey burgers too. If people you know might think it’s better—for animals or for health—to order a turkey burger, here are five reasons they should think again:

1. Like the cows who are raised and slaughtered for fast-food burgers, turkeys suffer horrific abuses on factory farms and in slaughterhouses—from having parts of their toes and beaks cut off to being beaten, scalded, and skinned alive. But unlike cows, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act—the only federal law designed to protect animals at slaughter—doesn’t apply to turkeys. When you add the fact that more turkeys are slaughtered to make a single turkey burger than are cows to create a beef burger, it’s clear that turkey burgers are anything but less cruel.

2. As with other ground meat products, turkey burgers allow the industry to wring more bucks from abused animals. After all, injuries and diseases that might prevent a carcass from being sold whole aren’t as apparent when the flesh is chopped up and mashed together.

3. Turkey burgers are hardly health food. Although ground turkey may be somewhat lower in fat and calories than beef, it’s also lower in essential vitamins and minerals, while having higher levels of sodium and cholesterol. Add cheese, bacon, and mayo, and you’ve got a heart attack on a bun.

4. The health risks aren’t limited to fat, cholesterol, and sodium. The intensive confinement and filthy conditions on factory farms are ideal breeding grounds for pathogens. Turkey carcasses are often contaminated with salmonella and campylobacter, the second-leading cause of reported food-related illnesses. In fact, U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors found that one out of every eight turkeys is contaminated with salmonella.

5. Turkeys are smart, social, and playful birds. They love having their feathers stroked and enjoy chirping along to music. They are naturally curious, always seeking out new sights and smells. Turkeys are also close to their families, and in nature they stay with their mothers for up to the first five months of their lives. No wonder Ben Franklin preferred turkeys to eagles as a symbol for the United States of America!

Fortunately, as The New York Times has finally noticed, the veggie burger is enjoying an even greater surge in popularity these days. As the report points out, not only are veggie burgers (particularly vegan ones) much healthier and more humane than either beef or turkey burgers, they are often especially appealing to eat as well. That’s because they can be made from such a wide variety of ingredients, lending them a range of textures and tastes that goes far beyond ground animal flesh.

So the next time your lunch buddies are tempted to order turkey burgers, tell them if they want a burger that’s delicious, healthy, and humane, to just say, “Make mine veggie!”

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6 Comments

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    Lois says...

    April 2nd, 2011, 8:01 am

    Oh, Boy! This article REALLY makes me happy I do not eat meat! What people now know about how animals are treated, it just makes it so much easier to EAT VEGETARIAN. I will amend that however!! Some people MUST eat meat — I mean those who are told to do so by their Doctors! I would never cross orders like that. So far – - I am lucky to have the choice to eat Vegetarian. I consider that a wonderful luxury to have that choice!!

    Tammy says...

    April 2nd, 2011, 10:31 am

    Wow I was feeling sick to my stomach reading this article. There’s no way around it, eating any animal flesh or by products is a lose/lose for all of us. I found that pointing out the veins in poultry usually disgusts those “white meat dieters” and makes them have to face the fact that they’re eating a dead body. You know, those little thin, dark purple or black looking stringy things in meat are collapsed veins?

    Try pointing that one out next time. Or the cartledge (sp) that white, bendable stuff near the bone… ewwwwwww.

    Connie says...

    April 3rd, 2011, 8:33 pm

    I originally gave up eating meat because of my love for animals. Its a great added bonus that its also the healthiest choice I could have made for myself.

    Lisa says...

    April 4th, 2011, 3:33 pm

    I would love to be a vegitarian/vegan but there’s soooo much food out there that contains animals, it’s very confusing to know what you can eat AND on top of that it’s expensive. The same with every day products that we use. I wish it was a little easier to be able to tell what doesn’t have animal in it or has been tested on animals. Think about it … creams, makeup, hair products, clothes, etc. I really hate the fact that humans use animals for everything, it sucks.

    Paul says...

    April 4th, 2011, 6:05 pm

    Hi Lisa,

    I know sometimes it’s hard to find affordable cruelty-free alternatives, but there are plenty of options out there for even the budget-concious consumer. A good place to start may be with PETA’s Caring Consumer 101 guide, you’ll also find links to common animal-derived ingredients as well as lists of companies who do and don’t test on animals linked from that page. There are also a number of links in the vegetarian living section of that site and on PETA Prime with suggestions on how to keep compassionate home while living frugally. Let me know if that helps!

    Rob says...

    April 7th, 2011, 9:22 pm

    Hi Lisa – I love to eat good food and when making the transition, found packaged veggie burgers and other dishes helpful but sometimes high in sodium and costly. We realized we loved bean dishes in restaurants so decided to learn to cook with dry beans. So cheap…and easy once you get used to soaking them in advance (and some, like lentils, need hardly any pre-soaking). We combine beans with whatever vegs are ripe (and if possible, on sale) and with herbs, sometimes a good oil (so many recipes free online) and brown rice (which I love with tomatoes). Some stores sell beans in their bulk food bins. Recently we’ve been making great dishes with mung beans.

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