4.5 Million Vegan Turkeys Likely to Be Served This Thanksgiving

4.5 Million Vegan Turkeys Likely to Be Served This Thanksgiving

  • Kimberly Johnson
  • Kimberly Johnson

Around four and a half million vegan turkeys will likely be served this Thanksgiving, according to a new estimate from animal protection organization Compassion in World Farming (CIWF).  

As more and more people learn about intensive animal farming and the environmental impact, risks to human health, and cruelty involved, they’re choosing more plant-based foods. Thanksgiving is no exception. CIWF based their estimate of 4.5 million plant-based turkeys on these and several other facts: 

  • Demand for turkey is falling overall, as well as during the holiday season.
  • Retail plant-based food sales grew twice as fast as animal-based food sales in 2020, according to a recent report
  • The number of people who identify as vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian has increased dramatically. 


Times are changing.

CIWF’s report is amazing news but not surprising. In the past year alone, countless new vegan meats have popped up on grocery store shelves all over the country. Mainstream fast-food restaurants like Panda Express, Chipotle, and even McDonald’s are testing plant-based proteins. Breakfast chains such as Denny’s and Cracker Barrell have also gotten on board and are exploring more vegan options for their customers. 

One study reveals that from 2004 to 2019, the number of Americans following a plant-based lifestyle rose by nearly 9.6 million—a 300 percent increase—to make up almost 3 percent of the U.S. population. 


Why choose a vegan turkey for Thanksgiving?

At modern turkey farms, animals endure a life of misery. Workers often cut off the birds’ snoods (the flaps of skin that hang from their foreheads) and slice or burn off parts of their toes and beaks. They’re typically kept inside dim, overcrowded sheds. Because they’re bred to grow as large and as quickly as possible, many turkeys can’t support their weight, and their fragile legs give out. They often struggle to walk or even stand up, and they can’t reach food or water as a result. Those who survive are shipped to slaughter. 

Turkey farming is also bad for the environment. Intensive turkey farms contribute to climate change and cause water and air pollution with the massive amounts of waste they produce. According to an EPA report, a factory farm with 1,000 turkeys “produces a waste load comparable to a city of 87,700 people.”


But these aren’t the only reasons to choose a plant-based turkey. Raising turkeys and other animals for food harms people too. Often, farmers and workers at slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants are also victims of our broken food system, exploited by the meat industry. The COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example. A new report reveals that COVID-19 cases and deaths at U.S. meatpacking plants are up to three times higher than previously estimated, owing in part to lack of protections for workers. 

Start a new tradition: Try a vegan turkey or roast.

Knowing the harms of turkey farming, it’s no wonder that more and more people are choosing plant-based turkeys for Thanksgiving. If we can celebrate the holiday in a more compassionate way, while still enjoying a delicious traditional feast, why not give it a try? 

Check out some of our favorite plant-based turkeys and roasts!