PETA has unveiled its first-ever Christmas advert, which encourages people to ditch the turkey and choose plant-based alternatives.
The pro-vegan commercial will be shown at cinemas across England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland in the coming weeks. This includes Vue, Odeon, and Cineworld, the largest cinema chains in the UK.
The two-minute animation follows the life of a baby turkey called Toby, who escapes from a slaughterhouse truck after being pushed to freedom by his doomed mother.
Working with creative agency Dream Farm, PETA says that it wanted to make viewers question the status quo. To do this it shone a light on the “nine to 11 million turkeys slaughtered for Christmas dinners in the UK every year.”
Toby the turkey’s story
Having been thrown from the slaughterhouse truck, a visibly scared Toby is picked up by human hands, his fate unknown. However, he is adopted by a family who love and cherish him.
The days go by and Toby grows, until Christmas arrives. This is when he sees an advert for the same turkey farm he came from. Making the connection that he might be on the chopping block, and remembering his last image of his mother, Toby panics. He starts to run around the room before being caught by one of the family.
Given PETA’s propensity for provocative (and sometimes graphic) campaigns, viewers would be forgiven for assuming that the worst is about to happen. Instead, PETA shows Toby eating a vegan Christmas dinner alongside his plant-based family. This was followed a poignant message:
“Peace begins at home. Have a vegan Christmas,” the advert concludes.
An ‘out-of-touch tradition’
According to PETA, the slaughter and consumption of around 11 million birds each Christmas is an outdated enterprise, propped up by a desire to uphold tradition.
The animal rights organization claims there is a contradiction at the heart of the holidays, with humans speaking of peace and goodwill to others while creating demand for mass animal killings.
“Killing animals is at odds with the festive message of love, hope, and joy,” it says.
“Peace starts on your plate. The easy choice to skip eating animals spares them unfathomable suffering, and you can still have all the classic Christmas foods you love – just without the cruelty.”
This suffering includes being reared in cramped and disease-ridden poultry sheds until around the age of 12 to 26 weeks old. The birds are then killed for meat. Turkeys are usually hung upside down on a conveyor and dragged through electrified water before having their throats slit. Due to ineffective stunning, many are still conscious when they bleed out.
Conversely, in nature, turkeys are social animals who enjoy close relationships with their families. They can live for up to 10 years and are deemed highly intelligent, as well as playful. They also have unique personalities. Rescue birds have frequently been seen enjoying hugs and strokes from their carers, with whom they have bonded.