The Norfolk-based animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is asking President Obama to skip the "archaic" annual tradition of pardoning a turkey.
"The White House turkey 'pardon' is a sorely outdated event. It makes light of the mass slaughter of some 46 million gentle, intelligent birds and portrays the United States' president as being in some sort of business partnership with the turkey-killing industry," PETA president Ingrid Newkirk wrote in a letter to the White House released Tuesday.
"Turkeys do not need to be 'pardoned'—they are not guilty of anything other than being born into a world of prejudice. They are innocents who should be respected for who they are: good mothers, smart birds, and interesting animals," Newkirk wrote.
The group suggested a vegetarian alternative for Obama and his family to eat at their Thanksgiving celebration.
"This year, we encourage you to forgo this event, which so many Americans find offensive, and choose a delicious, healthy Tofurky roast for your family's holiday table," she asked.
Newkirk also compared the treatment of turkeys and other animals to the struggles of marginalized humans for dignity and self-respect.
"You understand so well that African-Americans, women, and members of the LGBT community have been poorly served throughout history, and now I am asking you to consider other living beings who are ridiculed, belittled, and treated as if their sentience, feelings, and very natures count for nothing," she wrote.
The turkey pardoning dates back to 1989, when then-President George H.W. Bush granted a bird clemency from ending up stuffed and eaten. Obama is set to pardon either Cobbler or Gobbler at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.