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As Thanksgiving approaches, Joaquin Phoenix, the Oscar-winning star of “Joker,” is teaming up with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to encourage Americans to reconsider their traditional Thanksgiving centerpiece—turkey. Known for his outspoken advocacy for Animal rights, Phoenix, along with his vegan partner Rooney Mara, is calling for a shift towards cruelty-free alternatives in a campaign aimed at raising awareness about the dark realities of the turkey industry.
In an exclusive preview shared with Newsweek, Phoenix narrates a graphic video exposing the horrific treatment of turkeys at Plainville Farms, a Pennsylvania turkey supplier to major U.S. grocery stores. The footage reveals workers beating and stomping on live turkeys, with allegations of heinous acts such as pretending to perform sex acts on dying birds. Pennsylvania State Police have charged 12 former Plainville workers with a total of 141 counts of cruelty to animals, marking the highest count in any factory-farmed animal case in U.S. history.
The disturbing video prompted Phoenix to emphasize, “If you celebrate Thanksgiving, stop paying someone to hurt animals for your Thanksgiving centerpiece.” He urges the public to choose vegan roasts, advocating for a more compassionate holiday season for all.
Plainville Farms, in response to the allegations, claims on its website to uphold “globally recognized animal welfare practices.” However, the recent charges and guilty pleas by former employees cast a dark shadow over the farm’s commitment to humane treatment.
According to PETA, approximately 46 million turkeys are slaughtered annually for Thanksgiving alone, with these birds typically aged between 14 and 18 weeks old. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the country produced over 5 billion pounds of turkey last year, more than 4.8 billion pounds of which were consumed domestically.
Despite the rise in plant-based foods, the turkey market remains strong, with an estimated 88 percent of Americans consuming Thanksgiving turkey each year, according to the National Turkey Federation. The federation claims to work closely with turkey growers and industry experts to ensure ethical treatment, but PETA insists that “animals are not ours to eat.”
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