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Animal groups look to help holiday turkeys

Before shopping for their holiday dinner, Vancouverites should be aware of the farmhouse cruelty that often accompanies turkey production, say local activists.

Before shopping for their holiday dinner, Vancouverites should be aware of the farmhouse cruelty that often accompanies turkey production, say local activists.

“Christmas is a time of year that really highlights the culture of consumerism that our society has embraced,” said Glen Gaetz of Liberation B.C., a Vancouver-based animal rights group.
“Unfortunately, animals are bearing the brunt of it.”

While vegetarian activists have long characterized the poultry industry as being particularly cruel, commercial turkey production has become especially controversial in recent years due to the practice of “electroejaculation,” whereby turkeys who have become too fat-breasted to breed naturally must be inseminated through mechanical means.

In response, for the first time ever, the B.C. SPCA is offering certification to supermarket turkeys raised under more “humane” living conditions. Any commercially sold bird bearing the SPCA label will have spent the majority of its life in a natural environment meeting the health, space and cleanliness standards of a third-party animal-welfare inspector.

But other activists would like to see the entire turkey tradition scrapped altogether.

“Ultimately, the most effective way to help an animal is by not eating them,” said Debra Probert, executive director of the Vancouver Humane Society.

Her organization encourages Vancouverites to consider vegetarian options for their holiday meals.

 
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