Simpsons Co-Creator's Project Lets Students at University of Michigan Feel Like a Chicken About to Be Slaughtered
For Immediate Release:
November 13, 2014
Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382
Ann Arbor, Mich. – If University of Michigan students knew what it felt like to be a chicken in a slaughterhouse, would they still choose a chicken sandwich at the dining hall? That’s what peta2, PETA’s youth division, aims to find out with the sophisticated “I, Chicken” virtual reality (VR) experience, which immerses participants in a world where they can flap their wings and make friends with other inquisitive, communicative chickens—that is, until they’re grabbed and sent to slaughter.
When: Friday, November 14, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Where: Chemistry Building atrium, University of Michigan
University of Michigan is the next stop on the “I, Chicken” tour. Previous stops include the University of California–Berkeley—where one student described the experience of being in a slaughterhouse this way: “[Y]ou see all the dead bodies passing you by, it makes you feel uncomfortable.” A Princeton student also shared a powerful response to the experience. “It’s so hard to empathize with animals when we interact so little with our food,” she said. “This is probably one of the more effective ways of getting information out to people who … would be likely to want to be vegetarian if they had just one experience where they were interacting in an empathetic way with animals.” Smith College students agreed. “It impacted me a lot to see the world from the perspective of a chicken,” one said. “This made me feel kind of sad .… Life is just not very good for the chickens.” Another said, “It was really shocking and kind of horrifying.”
“I, Chicken” uses cutting-edge wireless VR goggles, motion capture cameras, and a powerful computer—the same tools that the military uses to train pilots, treat post-traumatic stress disorder, and equip medical staff with lifesaving skills—and was made possible by a grant from Simpsons co-creator and noted philanthropist Sam Simon. Simon and peta2—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—aim to instill empathy for the 26 million chickens who are slaughtered for food every day in the U.S. alone. These birds’ throats are cut, and millions of still-conscious birds are scalded to death in defeathering tanks.