Why Shouldn't You Eat Turkey On Thanksgiving

Why Shouldn’t You Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving?

Last Updated on March 26, 2024 by Kimberlee Johnson

Every Thanksgiving, the delicious scent of a cooked turkey fills my house, and it’s a tradition that I’ve treasured for a long time.

But as I’ve learned more about how our food choices affect the world and our bodies, I’ve come to question whether indulging in this beloved bird on Thanksgiving is the best idea.

While turkey has long been the centerpiece of Thanksgiving feasts, there are important factors to consider beyond tradition. So, why shouldn’t you eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

I’ll explain why you might think twice before loading your plate with turkey on Thanksgiving.

5 Possible Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Eat Turkey On Thanksgiving

Roasted Turkey

1. Health Risks Of Consuming Turkey

Turkey, a staple of Thanksgiving feasts, can harbor harmful pathogens such as salmonella [1], campylobacter, and clostridium perfringens.

These microorganisms can lead to severe food-borne illnesses, causing symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. 

“When I was younger, I used to drive up to a bunch of turkeys, roll down the window and say something. They’d all gobble back at once.” 

Levon Helm, American Musician

Consuming undercooked or contaminated turkey meat poses a significant health risk, especially for vulnerable populations like the elderly and young children.

Find out how much the average Thanksgiving turkey weighs here.

2. Turkeys Endure Stressful & Poor Conditions

Turkeys raised in factory farms often face grim living conditions. Crowded environments and high-stress levels can lead to diseases and injuries among birds. 

To mitigate aggression stemming from stress, farmers sometimes resort to beak trimming, a painful and invasive procedure. 

These conditions not only harm the animals but also compromise the quality of the meat.

3. Hazardous Work Environments For Farm Laborers

The working conditions on turkey farms, particularly Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), could be better. 

Farmworkers are exposed to respiratory hazards from airborne particles like poultry dust and ammonia from turkey droppings. 

This constant exposure can lead to various respiratory illnesses, risking workers’ health.

4. Inhumane Slaughter Practices

Turkeys are excluded from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act protections, resulting in less oversight and humane treatment during slaughter. 

Stunning methods often fail, leading to inhumane slaughter practices causing unnecessary suffering for the birds. 

Ethical concerns arise when considering the treatment of turkeys in the meat production industry.

Find out the breed that most people eat during Thanksgiving here.

5. Contributing To Antibiotic Resistance

The turkey farming industry heavily relies on antibiotics, not only to keep birds alive in unsanitary conditions but also to promote growth. 

This overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture contributes to antibiotic resistance, a global health threat. 

Antibiotic-resistant infections can be difficult to treat, posing serious risks to human health.

Why Eat Chicken On Thanksgiving Instead Of Turkey?

Choosing chicken over turkey for Thanksgiving offers several compelling advantages. Chickens are smaller than turkeys, making them an ideal alternative for smaller families or gatherings. 

This ensures that you won’t be stuck with weeks of leftover turkey. 

Besides, their smaller size makes cooking them significantly more manageable, reducing the stress and cooking time associated with preparing a massive turkey.

You might also like to read about how much the Golden Corral buffet costs on Thanksgiving here.

What Could Be Healthier Than Turkey On Thanksgiving?

Oven Baked Salmon

A. Tofurky – A Flavorful Meatless Alternative

Tofurky, a plant-based roast made primarily from tofu [2], provides a flavorful alternative to traditional turkey. 

It’s seasoned to mimic the taste of turkey and offers a substantial protein content, akin to turkey. 

With Tofurky, you will experience the savory experience of a holiday meal while making a compassionate and health-conscious choice.

B. Whole Salmon – A Nutrient-Rich Seafood Option

Whole salmon is a nutrient-rich seafood choice that can elevate your Thanksgiving dinner. 

It’s a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart, as well as protein, vitamins, and minerals.

“Choosing not to eat turkey on Thanksgiving is an opportunity to start a new tradition—one that embraces healthier, more ethical, and more sustainable food choices.”

Howkapow Gift Site

Roasting a whole salmon can be an impressive centerpiece that’s as delicious as it is nutritious.

C. Veggie Pot Pie – A Hearty Vegetarian Delight

For a comforting and wholesome vegetarian option, consider a veggie pot pie. 

Filled with a medley of vegetables, creamy sauce, and flaky pastry, it’s a hearty and satisfying choice that caters to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

D. Stuffed Acorn Squash with Wild Rice – A Seasonal Delicacy

Stuffed acorn squash with wild rice is a delightful seasonal dish that celebrates the flavors of autumn. 

It combines the nuttiness of wild rice with the natural sweetness of acorn squash, creating a harmonious and nutritious pairing rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

E. Quiche – A Versatile and Flavorful Option

With its delicate pastry crust and custard filling, Quiche offers a versatile canvas for various ingredients. 

You can create a customized quiche with vegetables, cheeses, and herbs to suit your preferences. 

Also Read: What Do Chinese Eat On Thanksgiving?


Why do some people dislike eating turkey?

Some individuals may dislike eating turkey due to several reasons. Firstly, the bird’s large size can lead to uneven cooking, where some parts are overcooked or undercooked. 

And turkey meat is lean, containing little fat, making it less forgiving when it comes to overcooking, which can result in dry and less flavorful meat.

Find out the percentage of Americans who don’t like to eat turkey on Thanksgiving here.

What state consumes the most turkey on Thanksgiving?

Which Thanksgiving food is the unhealthiest?

Stuffing tends to be one of the unhealthiest Thanksgiving dishes. 

It often contains ingredients like bacon, sausage, mincemeat, giblets, and more, pushing its calorie count to over 500 per serving, depending on the recipe.

On A Final Note

Reconsidering the tradition of eating turkey on Thanksgiving is a thoughtful choice. 

As someone who always prepared the Thanksgiving dinner table, I’ve understood that the health risks of turkey consumption and the inhumane conditions of turkey farming can’t be ignored.

Turkey meat can harbor harmful pathogens, jeopardizing our well-being, while factory farming practices compromise animal welfare and quality. 

Instead, choosing chicken as an alternative offers a smaller, more manageable, and more ethical option for families. 

Embracing this change aligns with the holiday spirit and contributes to healthier, more humane, and responsible food choices, enriching the Thanksgiving experience.


Kimberlee Johnson
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