46 Million Turkeys Will Be Sacrificed in Thanksgiving Bloodletting


As of Friday, Americans are 14 days out from Thanksgiving. That means 14 more days until we overeat, squabble with family and come to terms with the fact that we commemorate a “brutal quest for absolute power” with a whole lot of turkey blood.

The most iconic part of Thanksgiving is, arguably, the dressed turkey on the table. This year will be no exception: The National Turkey Foundation tells Inverse that it expects 46 million turkeys to be consumed this year. In a country of 324.9 million Americans, that figure comes out to one turkey for roughly every group of seven.

This figure is a familiar one. Every year since 2007, the National Turkey Federation has estimated Americans would consume around 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving. Case in point: Ten years ago, the number of turkeys who laid their lives down for our tummies was estimated to be “more than 45 million,” according to Getty.

But that fixed number of Thanksgiving turkeys isn’t in line with American meat consumption trends year-round. The yearly consumption of turkey steadily rose by pound per capita from 1960 to 2004, according to the National Chicken Council. There was a small dip in the mid-2000s, but the organization predicts another rise in 2016 and 2017.

Meat consumption overall is on the rise in the United States. Rabobank, a Dutch bank that analyzes agricultural industry data, says that the annual 184 pounds of beef, pork, and/or chicken that Americans ate in 2012 increased to 193 pounds in 2015. The bank told Fusion that in 2018, it’s estimated that annual consumption will be 200 pounds a year per capita — a record high.

An estimated 88 percent of Americans will eat turkey this Thanksgiving. They are likely the same Americans who are fueling the overall rise in meat consumption. Are they supplementing their ancillary meat desires with other plates on the dining room table — hams, chickens, and turduckens? That remains to be seen. Something suspect seems to be going on, and there is likely only one person to ask:

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