Turkey Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  11 min read
turkey benefits and side effects

HEALTH

Turkey side effects may include:

Additionally, turkey is…

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ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: moderate, it takes 4,325 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of turkey meat / 518 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of turkey meat

Carbon footprint: high, 10.9 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of turkey, a car driving equivalent of 25 miles or 40.25 kilometers

Destruction: high, turkey production is relatively destructive, land usage for pasture, grain and forage, solid waste (excrement/manure) runoff into soil and freshwater, deforestation for feed crops, animal agriculture leading cause of: species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction, responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction

Turkey is…

ANIMALS

Kills: turkeys, a type of bird, must be killed in order to produce turkey

Harms: turkeys, legs fail to support the added weight from growth hormones and internal organs are not developed to keep up with the packed on pounds

Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife habitat contamination (water and soil pollution), wildlife habitat destruction (deforestation/land clearing), wolves and coyotes killed to prevent predation on livestock 

Turkey is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: hazardous, poultry processing workers have some of the highest rates of occupational injury and illness in the USA, the work environment in processing plants is dirty, dangerous, at times machines that injure workers by crushing, amputating, burning and slicing them, workers use tools such as knives, hooks, scissors, and saws, injuries include cuts, stabs, infections, scars, scratches, missing fingers, swollen joints, working conditions are humid, slippery, loud, hot or below freezing resulting in respiratory problems, skin infections and falls, workers experience, irritating chemicals in poultry plants can cause health issues like chronic respiratory disorders, an average of 27 poultry workers a day suffer from work-related amputations or hospitalizations in the USA

Living conditions: poor, workers must process thousands of animals per day, they are pressured to work as fast as possible, rest breaks and bathroom breaks are discouraged or denied, many workers must wear diapers, they experience stress, physical and emotional pain, at poultry plants line speeds are 140 birds per minute

Wages: low, in the USA poultry workers are poorly compensated and earn under $15 an hour, they are often pushed to work faster so companies can profit more

Turkey…

Where does most turkey come from?

The United States is the world’s largest turkey producer and largest exporter of turkey products. The top five turkey-producing states are Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Indian and Missouri. The world’s top turkey exporter is Germany followed by Poland, the United States, Italy, Spain, Austria, France, Ireland, Hungary, the UK.

Is turkey nutritious?

Turkey is a good source of protein, Vitamin B6, niacin, selenium, iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorous but contains sodium nitrates, antibiotics, hormones, insecticides and pesticides.

What are some vegan substitutes?

Check out this Vegan Substitutes List to see alternatives for meat, dairy, eggs, fish and more.

turkey is acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is turkey alkaline or acidic? Turkey is acidic. What is the pH level of turkey? Turkey has a 5.5 pH level once digested. Meat and poultry are acidic food groups.

When you eat food, it is broken down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are found in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

turkey is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is turkey gluten free? Possibly. Turkey may or may not be gluten free. Turkey and other cold cuts, lunch meats and processed meats may contain gluten.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include: recurring abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, constipation, tingling, numbness in hands and feet, chronic fatigue, joint pain, unexplained infertility and low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis).

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

turkey is not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is turkey a common food allergen? No, turkey is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to turkey but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods is often referred to as the Big-8 and includes milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. 

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

turkey has a moderate water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does turkey have a high or low water footprint? Turkey has a relatively moderate water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of turkey? It takes 4,325 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of turkey meat / 518 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of turkey meat.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake…quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of “water footprints”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

turkey has a high carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does turkey have a high or low carbon footprint? Turkey has a relatively high carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of turkey? It takes around 10.9 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of turkey, a car driving equivalent of 25 miles or 40.25 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating product emissions, some factors that may be included are… farm equipment, animal feed production, hothouses (greenhouses), food processing, packaging, transport, refrigeration, freezing, package waste, and more.

There are a number of steps we can take to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

turkey is unsustainable.

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Overall, is turkey eco friendly? Is turkey sustainable?

Turkey production is relatively unsustainable.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

turkey is not vegan.

Is turkey vegan? No, turkey is not vegan. Turkey is meat, the product of a turkey, therefore making it an animal-derived food. A turkey must be killed in order to produce turkey. 

According to Sentient Media, “more than 200 million land animals are killed for food around the world every day. Including wild-caught and farmed fishes, we get a total closer to 3 billion animals killed daily.”

An estimated 2 million turkeys are killed for food around the world every day.

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

turkey has laborer issues and human rights concerns.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is turkey a product with laborer concerns?

At this time there are concerns with poultry production.

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

Turkey | USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

Agricultural marketing resource center: turkey

Turkey, whole, breast, meat only, raw – FoodData Central

Human rights watch:“When We’re Dead and Buried, Our Bones Will Keep Hurting” Workers’ Rights Under Threat in US Meat and Poultry Plants

Adriane Marie

As an educator, author and conscious consumer advocate, I study and organize ethical info for you to quickly see how our purchases impact animals, people and the planet. I hope you find this HEALabel knowledge useful and can apply it to your life for personal and societal improvement and empowerment.