Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
A vegan activist has sparked debate online after saying people should feel ‘ashamed’ to eat turkey, and likening it to a ‘celebrating over a tortured corpse’.
Jennifer White, a communication manager for British PETA, was appearing on Good Morning Britain to discuss the group’s new Christmas campaign, which follows the life of a cartoon turkey called Toby.
You can watch it below:
The advert sees Toby escape from a truck of his peers on the way to a slaughterhouse. The lucky bird is picked up by a family who take him home and raise him as one of their own.
But on Christmas Day, Toby sees an advert for the turkey farm he was headed towards, and fears that he could soon become their dinner…
There’s a happy ending, as Toby then discovers his foster family are vegan, and plan to eat Tofurky (that’s turkey made from tofu) over the holidays.
“Anyone who feels ashamed of guilty after watching this very sweet video needs to take some time to reflect about why that is,” said Jennifer on the daytime TV show.
“I think it’s because they are starting to join the dots and realising it’s not just a piece of meat to serve up at dinner time.
“This is from a living being who had a desire to live, had family bonds and I would urgently tell anyone who does have those feelings to turn them into actions”.
'I feel proud about eating meat because we have the best farms in the world here, we farm to such a high standard'
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) November 24, 2022
When quizzed by Susanna Reid about whether it was right to make people feel guilty, Jennifer replied: “I’m not making you feel guilty.
“We’re not telling people what decisions to make, but we are helping people make informed choices and this video is helping people join the dots,’ she added.
“Toby represents the corpse of 10 million turkeys who are slaughtered at Christmas time alone in the UK, and if we’re honest with outselves there is a disconnect here.
“We are celebrating the season of peace and goodwill with the corpse of a tortured bird.”
Responding to Jennifer, Liz Webster, Chairwoman of Save British Farming, said it was always a “sad day” when animals were killed for their meat.
However, she added: “We need food that’s locally produced and sustainable. Food that comes from animal is sustainable, they turn grass into protein, it’s healthier, it’s not processed.
“We love our animals, but if we didn’t farm them, they wouldn’t exist. And they have a job to do and there is a lot of by-product that comes from these animals”.
Chiming into the conversation, Susanna Reid said that she was vegetarian herself, but noted: “I don’t criticise people for eating meat because it’s normal for human beings at the top of the food chain to eat those animals.
But Jennifer didn’t agree.
‘Tradition is never an excuse,” she said. “Just because something has been done for hundreds of years, it doesn’t mean it needs to continue.
“Animal should not be bred to be slaughtered, even if an animal had a great life on a farm, which we now is not the case because we have that evidence on our website.”
Responding to the debate online, it’s fair to say that opinions were divided.
“This is how Vegans annoy people! How would PETA feel if non Vegans start telling them their choices are wrong. This advert gives no facts and only tries to guilt trip people via their children!,” said one.
Whilst another wrote: “I don’t eat meat or fish but it’s not for me or anyone else to tell other people what they should and shouldn’t eat, PETA do more harm than good with idiotic stunts like this #gmb”.
A vegan viewer wrote: “I’m still baffled people think one advert about veganism is ‘shoving it in our faces’, vegans have to put up with endless adverts of tables laden with a variety of dead animals or farming association adverts telling us to eat pork or dairy etc #gmb “.
“Not a vegan but she’s got a point and she’s making it pretty well,” said a fourth. “Keep the advert running, if you feel guilty it’s on you not them #GMB”.