TARKAN’s Stand For Turkey’s Strays

We’re no stranger to pop phenomenon Tarkan. Last season we interviewed him about his love for animals, and now, photographer Giuilano Bekor, Gaudy PR’s Avo Yermagyan, PETA Germany and yours truly teamed up to make this amazing spay/neuter and dog rescue campaign take place just in time for Spay Day on February 23rd! Did you know Turkey has a huge pet overpopulation and strays problem? Stars like Tarkan have actually taken in many strays, and with campaigns like this we hope people will take action and have their pets spayed and neutered, keeping more dogs and cats from living sad, dangerous and unhealthy lives.

Check out Peta Germany’s interview with Tarkan:

When did PETA first enter your life?
During the promotional tour for my album Come Closer, PETA reached out to me to voice feelings about my wearing a fur coat on the album cover. Having been an animal lover since childhood, this instance when I was pictured wearing fur on the cover of my album was truly a regrettable one. On the day of my album’s cover shoot, we tested many looks, one of which happened to include a coat with fur accents. The pictures ended up being used as the album’s cover artwork. In hindsight, I wish I had never worn the coat—but I am also a believer that everything in life happens for a reason. Because of that mistake, PETA and I crossed paths, joined forces, and are now working together to protect animal rights worldwide. Once all the unimaginable circumstances being suffered by helpless animals were brought to my attention and I saw footage portraying the horrible pain that animals were enduring for the sake of fashion, I immediately swore off fur.

What do you think of PETA?
I am happy to be supporting PETA—an organization that’s fighting for animal rights worldwide. PETA’s relentless efforts to protect the well-being of animals around the world is a cause that is very important to me.

How do you think we can make animals’ lives better? Do you think that the existing campaigns are enough?
I am fortunate enough to be able to use my celebrity to draw attention to PETA and to encourage my fans to join the animal rights movement. I feel it is up to all of us to take a stand as consumers and choose a cruelty-free lifestyle. Once we stop encouraging industries that are making a profit at the expense of animals, we will end the demand and make a change for animals worldwide.

Do you think that celebrities are doing enough to protect the rights of animals in Turkey?
There have been many celebrities in Turkey who have spoken out for animal rights, including my dear friend, Sezen Aksu, who is both an animal lover and an activist. I hope that with this campaign, more of my colleagues, friends, and fans will be inspired to voice their support for animal rights.

How did you find your dogs?
Over the last few years, I have rescued approximately a dozen dogs from the streets of Turkey. Some were brought to me by friends, and some have even shown up at my doorstep looking for a home. They have brought me endless joy, and I treasure their unconditional love.

How many dogs do you have, and where do they live?
I currently have four dogs (all rescued), named Efe, Carmella, Johnita, and Jackie. They all live with me at my ranch just outside Istanbul.

Do you have a favorite among them? Why?
I love all my dogs, as each has his or her own unique character. But Johnita is very special to me—she is the one who never leaves my side, no matter what.

Tell us a story about you and one of your dogs.
I used to have a dog named Efe, who I loved—and who passed away. Just a week later, a stray dog who almost identically resembled Efe showed up at my doorstep. I immediately welcomed him into my family and named him Efe as well.

How is your life nowadays? What is the latest with you?
I am currently in the studio working on my new album. In my free time, I like to work with many nonprofit organizations such as Doğa Derneği (Nature Foundation), UNICEF, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and more, to use my voice for change. But most of all, I am happy to be able to come home to my loving companions at the end of a long day at the studio.

No Thanks, Turkey Day.

For many of us, Thanksgiving is about indulgence. Around this time of year, I’m usually flying down to visit my parents in Florida, where we prepare a feast and eat much more than we typically would. Thanksgiving, http://farmchronicles.files.wordpress.com/2006/10/1943-03-06-saturday-evening-post-norman-rockwell-article-freedom-from-want-430-digimarc.jpgnot unlike the other major holidays, has become more about buying certain things assigned to that holiday and subscribing to a ritual that makes us feel good (indulging in the company of friends and family) under the guise of goodwill. And maybe that goodwill isn’t just a guise, but as we all try to act out that famous Norman Rockwell painting, accurate history just doesn’t seem to matter. Consider what historians have recently discovered – that Spanish-speaking, Catholic settlers dined on bean soup with the Timucua Indians almost a half-century prior to the famed 1621 Plymouth celebration (which incidentally did not have a single factory farmed Turkey at the table – and no cranberry or potatoes). So how is it that 500 years later, this holiday has become a showcase of nothing but Turkey? It is know as “Turkey Day”.

Last Thanksgiving I warned, “It’s Me or the Turkey,” vowing to never again sit at a table where the body of an individual whose existence was thankless is set out on display. A bird whose morbidly engineered body: painfully detoed and debeaked without anesthesia, forced to live in one sq-foot of space, pumped full of drugs and hormones – is somehow turned into the centerpiece of gratitude. An individual whose life is not considered valid. How is it that this abstinence I have asserted is seen as “radical”, yet the processes by black thursdaywhich this dead body arrived is not? How is it that talking about the truth of turkey farming is avoided like the plague, yet putting the product of that truth in our mouths is so enthusiastically embraced?

Every year almost 300 million turkeys are slaughtered in the US. Of that, 46 million are specifically killed for Thanksgiving. Having been bred to grow at alarming rates (twice as fast and twice as large as their ancestors, often causing heart attacks), commercial turkeys are slaughtered after only 14-18 weeks. Many of them die of exposure during transport to the slaughterhouse, and when they arrive, many are not properly stunned prior to slaughter. Turkeys and other poultry are specifically excluded from the Humane Slaughter Act, which requires that animals be stunned prior to slaughter. Finally, as the birds who have not been stunned avoid the automated blades slitting their throats, they are often boiled alive in scalding tanks. Even “free-range” turkeys are no better off. In an industry where maximum output and profit are king, it is no surprise that suffering by individuals who fall between the cracks is so easily overlooked. As much as we’d like them to be true, our delusions of these birds having come from peaceful, Utopian farms must be shattered.

Please take a look at these undercover investigations in turkey facilities from our friends at Compassion Over Killing and Peta.

As Johnathan Safran Foer says in his new book, “We can not plead ignorance, only indifference”.
Given what we now know about food production and factory farms, where 99% of animal products come from, it’s difficult to rationalize eating turkeys in a symbolic gesture of thankfulness.  The scientific community recently re-wrote the book on bird-brains, revealing  how incredibly intelligent turkeys and chickens actually are, shaming the community that capitalized on their perceived stupidity. We also know that the environmental consequences of raising animals for food is greater than the entire transportation sector. We know that we don’t need to eat a Turkey any more than a Twinkie, yet the sentimentality of tradition persists, and so many of us purchase the anonymous, plastic-wrapped, frozen body of a creature and gather with our families around it like some sort of shrine that we are entitled to, never giving a second thought to who he or she was, and what his or her perception and experience of this world was like.

Please take a moment to watch the short video I produced for Farm Sanctuary featuring actress Ginnifer Goodwin as she considers this “tradition based on cruelty” while hanging out with some rescued Turkeys at the sanctuary in Orlan, California.

So what’s the alternative? Can Thanksgiving be Thanksgiving without turkey? Here are some tips on a conscientious celebration and ideas for a truly thankful holiday:
• Sponsor a Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary Turkey, or a Farm Sanctuary Turkey (or both!)

Adoption Certificate

• Check out my recipe for Pumpkin Pockets with Smoky Seitan, Mushroom Mousse, & Braised Apple, or check out my recipe page for other ideas!

• Try Celebration Roast, Tofurky, or Unturkey as the new centerpiece!


• More compassionate and delicious Thanksgiving recipes from VegCooking.com:

Appetizers and SnacksSoups and SaladsEntréesSide DishesGraviesFaux TurkeysHoliday DessertsBeveragesHoliday Meals

DBTV: Tarkan Interview at NYC Fashion Week

WEB2Tarkan might not yet be a household name in the United States, but with his forthcoming album – star studded with collaborations featuring some of the hottest US artists, it soon will be unforgettable. In Europe, Russia, and especially Turkey, the press has compared his effect to that of Elvis’ on the US in the 1950s. Tarkan, famous for his spellbinding performances, is an award winning German-born, Turkish pop-singer known as the “prince of pop” by the media on the other side of the Atlantic. He has several multi-platinum selling records, with a total of over 15 million albums sold.

WEB14Check out my interview with Tarkan at the Emilie Humanitary fundraiser at Fashion Week in NYC where we discuss his humanitarian, environmental, and animal causes in addition to music such as his fighting of a controversial dam in Turkey and his collaboration with PETA to help animals like strays in Turkey and those typically used in the fur industry.

Tarkan was confronted by PETA in 2008 for wearing fur on the cover of his album. Once he learned of the plight of fur-bearing animals, he made an apology and has sworn it off. He also really enjoyed the Dr. Cow’s vegan cheese I gave him, and I hope to get the opportunity to prepare him a full vegan meal soon!

It's Me or the Turkey!


Thanksgiving is already a holiday that’s wrong on so many levels. I don’t need to go into the details of the nature of our ancestors interactions with the Native North Americas – or the clinging to the fantastically ridiculous and false fairy tale of our chummy dinner together one night a few hundred years ago. But the last thing we should allow Thanksgiving to continue being is yet another massacre concealed under the guise of tradition, goodwill, and entitlement. This holiday season, I am refusing to sit at any table with a big, dead, tortured, cooked bird on it!

Why? For one, I had no idea how similar turkey’s are to cats until I met one. Like most people, I subscribed to the convenient belief that they were dumb and void of personality. This is such a pervasive stereotype because A) Most of us do not get to actually meet a turkey who is not dead, frozen, sliced, de-footed and beheaded. B) The turkeys can’t speak in any language that we validate; their clucks and gobbles are written off as nonsense in that same fashion that racist and xenophobic Americans make fun of any language they don’t understand, and C) It’s the only way to rationalize what we do to Turkeys – because if they’re dumb, they must have a dull ability to feel pain and fear, right?

When I finally met a turkey who approached me and rubbed his head against my leg like a cat and purred as I scratched his warm belly, I realized just how silly our rationalizations are for calling some animals ‘pets’ and others ‘Thanksgiving dinner’. Just because something is popularly participated in, and offered up on a platter doesn’t make it right. Our third-grade history books could tell us that much.


This thanksgiving, I am telling my friends and family, “It’s me or the Turkey!“. I will not sit at the table if there is a Turkey’s body on it. I never thought I’d say this, but I have friends that are turkeys! It doesn’t sound silly to say we have friends that are dogs and cats, but when we take an animal that is typically stripped of individuality, and whose sole purpose is supposed to be getting it’s throat slit, cooked, and eaten – it comes out sounding strange. Thankfully we don’t need to have dead turkeys at our tables, and we can certainly insist that our families and friends give the turkeys something to be thankful for this year.

At Farm Sanctuary, Animal Acres, The Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, and other sanctuaries, Thanksgiving is for the birds. Literally. If you have no plans, or don’t know what to cook, check out the THANKSGIVING SURVIVAL GUIDE:


Adopt-A-Turkey Project


SuperVegan’s NYC Thanksgiving Dinner Events Page!



Nava's Thanksgiving Favorites

VEGWEB Thanksgiving Recipes

Yes on Prop 2