Top 10 Reasons Not to Eat Chicken
1. ‘Bird Brain’ Is a Compliment
An article in Scientific American titled “The Startling Intelligence of the Common Chicken” describes chickens as “cunning.” It goes on to say that they possess “communication skills on par with those of some primates and … [use] sophisticated signals to convey [their] intentions. When making decisions, [they take] into account … prior experience and knowledge surrounding the situation. [They] can solve complex problems and [empathize] with individuals that are in danger.” So who are you calling a “bird brain”?
2. All Drugged Up
Quite simply, chickens are the most abused animals on the planet. More than 55 times as many chickens are slaughtered each year as pigs and cows combined!
Chickens raised for their flesh are packed by the thousands into massive sheds and fed large amounts of antibiotics and drugs to keep them alive in conditions that would otherwise kill them.
Recent documents created by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and made available as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that “none of these [antibiotic feed additives] would likely be approvable … for … livestock use if submitted today, under current FDA guidelines. Eighteen of the 30 reviewed feed additives were deemed to pose a ‘high risk’ of exposing humans to antibiotic-resistant bacteria through the food supply.” This reckless use of antibiotics makes drugs less effective for treating humans by speeding up the development of drug-resistant bacteria.
3. Scalded to Death
Only seven weeks after they’re born, chickens are crowded onto trucks that transport them to the slaughterhouse. Every year, tens of millions of chickens have their wings and legs broken in the process. They are trucked through all weather extremes, sometimes over hundreds of miles, without any food or water. At slaughter, chickens are hung upside down and have their throats slit, and they’re often scalded to death in defeathering tanks.
4. No One Stands Up for Chickens
If factory-farm owners treated cats and dogs as they treat chickens, they would go to jail for cruelty to animals. But instead, chickens spend their entire lives in filthy sheds with tens of thousands of other birds, each getting less space than a sheet of paper, where intense crowding and confinement lead to outbreaks of disease. Adult chickens have trouble breathing and standing upright and will even topple forward because they’ve been bred to have abnormally large breasts.
5. Side of Poop With That?
A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study found that more than 99 percent of broiler chicken carcasses sold in stores had detectable levels of E. coli, indicating fecal contamination. In other words, if you’re eating chicken flesh, you’re almost certainly eating poop. Consumer Reports states that there are “1.1 million or more Americans sickened each year by undercooked, tainted chicken.”
Foster Farms was forced to recall chicken products that had been linked to an outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella, which had been making people sick for more than a year. The Washington Post reported, “The [USDA] inspection reports include descriptions of mold growth, cockroaches, an instance of pooling caused by a skin-clogged floor drain, fecal matter and ‘Unidentified Foreign Material’ (which has its own acronym, UFM) on chicken carcasses, failure to implement required tests and sampling, metal pieces found in carcasses, and many more.”
6. The Most Dangerous Factory Job in America
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, slaughterhouse workers are more than three times more likely to sustain injuries while working than workers in other manufacturing jobs. They are also 30 times more likely to suffer from a repetitive stress injury than workers in other manufacturing jobs. The industry refuses to make working conditions safer by slowing line speeds or buying appropriate safety gear, which amounts to what Human Rights Watch calls “systematic human rights violations embedded in meat and poultry industry employment.” Workers are often forced to work 10 or more hours a day, and in order not to slow down, they have even been reported to defecate in their pants.
Big chicken companies such as Tyson and Perdue also exploit contract factory-farm operators, whom Auburn University economist C. Robert Taylor calls “serfs with a mortgage.” Contract factory farmers are forced to foot the bill for building and maintaining massive factory farms, which puts them deeply into debt and can drive them to financial ruin if their company cancels future contracts with them.
7. Lose the Fat, Avoid the Flu
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization say that if the avian flu virus spreads to the United States, it could be caught simply by eating undercooked chicken flesh or eggs, eating food prepared on the same cutting board as infected meat or eggs, or even touching eggshells contaminated with the disease. Chicken flesh and eggs are packed with cholesterol—a 3 ½ ounce piece of skinless chicken breast meat has as much cholesterol as the same amount of beef, and just one egg has nearly three times as much. This cholesterol, along with a high intake of animal fats, blocks arteries and causes heart disease. Vegan foods, on the other hand, are all cholesterol-free and much lower in fat.
8. ‘Big Meat’ Is Manipulating Us
In his book The Meat Racket, Christopher Leonard details the effort that President Barack Obama made to control the meat industry’s power over rural America. In 2010, Obama attempted to make it easier for farmers to sue meatpackers. It was a noble effort to empower individual farmers, but Big Meat’s lobbyists pulled favors in Congress and succeeded in squashing the administration’s plan.
9. Motherly Love
In a natural setting, a hen will cluck to her chicks before they even hatch while sitting on the eggs in her nest. They peep back to her and to each other through their shells. On factory farms, eggs are taken from the mother as soon as they are laid and placed in large incubators—a chick will never meet his or her parents. Hens prefer to have private nests hidden from predators and will often go without food or water in order to obtain a private nest. This demonstrates the fact that hens will sacrifice their own comfort if it means protecting their chicks. On factory farms, hens are forced to lay their eggs in barren metal cages, crammed together with five to 11 other birds.
10. Chicken S*** and the Environment
Raising 9 billion chickens for meat on factory farms each year produces enormous amounts of excrement. Oregon State University agriculture professor Peter Cheeke says that factory farming amounts to “a frontal assault on the environment,” which leads to widespread fecal land and water pollution. Because chickens are fed massive amounts of antibiotics and additives, these chemicals are also found in high concentrations in their feces, which means that fecal pollution from chicken farms is especially disastrous for the environment. In Maryland and West Virginia, for example, scientists discovered that male fish are growing ovaries, and they suspect that this freakish deformity is the result of factory-farm runoff from drug-laden chicken feces.
Better Than the Original!
Do you like the taste of chicken flesh but don’t like the suffering? No problem—there are so many alternatives available that you’ll never miss the cruelty! Try one of Gardein’s nine different varieties of meat-free chicken, Beyond Meat’s Grilled Chicken-Free Strips, Boca Chik’n Nuggets, and Yves Meatless Chicken Burgers.These super-tasty foods are high in protein, cruelty- and cholesterol-free, and available at your local supermarket. Instead of eggs for breakfast, check out these delicious egg-free recipes that will blow your mind. Also, check out our egg-free baking tips.