Every year around this time, a staggering 46 million turkeys are raised and killed for Americans dinner plates. These highly intelligent and social individuals are forced to spend their short lives in a crowded, windowless warehouses without ever experiencing the things that make them happy like basking in the sun, dust baths, or perusing the earth for bugs and roots to eat.


At Lighthouse we care for 25 domestic turkey’s, but also provide refuge to a large flock of wild turkeys who use the safety of the sanctuary grounds to raise their families. We’ve been privileged to make friends with these incredible beings. Here are 4 reasons why you should skip the turkey this holiday season (read to the end to see our favorite plant based options!):


1. There’s Nothing “Dumb” About Turkeys: They are incredibly curious and inquisitive individuals. They can differentiate between what insects are poisonous to eat and which are not. Turkeys also enjoy the finer things in life- music, socializing with friends, going on adventures, and self care in the form of long dust baths and preening sessions.


2. They Love To Chat!: Turkeys have at least 20 different vocalizations that they use in different situations. Just like us, every turkey also has a unique voice and they can recognize each other just by voice alone! You may have heard the ubiquitous GOBBLE from a turkey – that is a vocalization unique to the male turkey used to call to potential mates as well as keep predators at bay.


wild turkey mother resting in our barn. photo by beth redwood


3. Mothers Of The Year: Baby turkeys, called poults, flock with their mothers for at least a year. They depend on their mothers to keep they safe and teach them about the world. In the wild, turkeys roost in trees overnight, but mama turkeys will risk their safety on the ground with their poults until they are old enough to fly into the tree on their own.


rufus. photo by beth redwood


4. They Just Want To Be Loved: Turkeys are known to be highly affectionate with humans when they feel safe. They enjoy greeting new visitors like our friend Rufus, who is always the first one at the gate to say hi to our volunteers. They even enjoy hugs and having their feathers stroked – just like your dog or cat!


Turkeys are truly amazing individuals who experience the same range of emotions that we do. Imagine being born into suffering and never allowed to be your true self – free from harm. That is the life of the domesticated turkey on a factory farm. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can make the kinder choice today to leave turkeys (and all animals) off your plate! There are so many amazing alternatives for your holiday table. Our favorites are Tofurky Holiday Feast, Gardein Holiday Roast, and Field Roast Celebration Roast.


If you’d like to help us care for the turkeys who call Lighthouse home, you can make a one-time donation, or sign up as a monthly Patreon supporter where you will get exclusive behind the scenes content on the sanctuary. Thank you for your support!