Update: Billings Police Chief Rich St. John has accepted an offer from People for Ethical Treatment of Animals to hand out Tofurky roasts to motorists this holiday season, reports Last Best News. 

St. John said Tracy Reiman, executive vice president of PETA, made the offer in an emailed letter Tuesday morning, and this afternoon, he wrote back to accept it. The offer was made in response to the department’s efforts last week to hand out turkeys to unsuspecting motorists who thought they would be getting a speeding ticket. 

“Thank you for the generous offer to donate Tofurky roasts,” St. John wrote. “There is no shortage of families in need this holiday season and we would be happy to hand them out.”

He asked them to send the Tofurky roasts — a trademarked name for a brand of tofurkey made of organic tofu and wheat protein  — to Billings Police Department headquarters at 220 N. 27th St.

The letter to St. John didn’t specify how many Tofurky roasts were being offered, but a PETA spokesperson told Last Best News that they would give the department 20 of them. That was the same number of frozen turkeys that Billings businessman Steve Gountanis donated to the department to be handed out last week.

It is also possible that PETA will send more than 20 roasts. The spokesperson, Audrey Shircliff, said that “we’re looking forward to discussing the offer further with them to determine how many they’ll be able to hand out.”


BILLINGS – The national animal rights group PETA has written a letter to the Billings Police Department offering to donate Tofurkey roasts to the department.

In a letter dated Nov. 14 and signed by PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman, the animal rights group said the vegan alternative to the traditional turkey would appeal to those in the state “who don’t eat meat for religious or environmental reasons or because they know how cruel factory farming and the slaughter of turkeys really are.”

On Nov. 8, Billings police officers handed out 20 donated frozen turkeys instead of tickets. The gesture was covered extensively by local media and also made national headlines.

RELATED: Billings police officers hand out turkeys, not tickets 

In the PETA letter addressed to Chief Rich St. John, Reiman said: “More and more Americans are choosing to celebrate the holidays with a healthy, humane vegan roast instead of the corpse of a sensitive bird who didn’t want to die. By gobbling up PETA’s offer of delicious Tofurky roasts, the Billings Police Department can give everyone something to be thankful for.”

Read the full letter here:

November 14, 2017

Rich St. John

Chief of Police

Billings Police Department

Dear Chief St. John,

I’m writing on behalf of PETA and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide—including many across Montana—in response to reports that the Billings Police Department was handing out frozen turkeys instead of tickets to motorists who committed traffic violations. I’d like to make an offer that will really give Montanans something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving: We’d like to help you serve up a vegan holiday dinner and protect residents’ health by donating delicious cholesterol-free Tofurky roasts for you to hand out to drivers—including those who don’t eat meat for religious or environmental reasons or because they know how cruel factory farming and the slaughter of turkeys really are.

Turkeys are smart, sensitive birds who have been known to enjoy clucking along to music and love to have their feathers stroked. In nature, babies stay with their mothers for up to five months, and they like to eat meals together as a family, much as humans do on Thanksgiving. But in today’s slaughterhouses, fully conscious turkeys are shackled upside-down and their heads are dragged through an electrified stun bath, which shoots currents through their bodies, causing spasms, burns, and fractures. Many birds are stunned improperly and are still conscious when their throats are cut and they’re immersed in scalding-hot water to remove their feathers.

Thanksgiving is about appreciation and kindness, and many traditional holiday foods are plant-based. Veganism has grown 500 percent since 2014. Since 6 percent of Americans identify as vegan and millions of people now enjoy a compassionate, meat-free holiday for a variety of reasons, it makes sense to give turkeys arrest this Thanksgiving.

Last year, we partnered with the Fort Worth Police Department for a similar effort, and it was well-received by many Texas drivers. We hope to hear that you’ll gobble up our offer. If so, please let me know where we can send the Tofurky roasts. Thank you for your consideration.


Tracy Reiman
Executive Vice President

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