A truly disturbing fact I never knew until now, maybe you did. There are way more hens than people in the world. Nineteen billion in fact, 3 hens to every 1 human. And the numbers just keep rising.
( I like to call these clever, social birds hens rather than chickens. Chicken is their flesh, not their personhood.)
To mark yesterday’s National Poultry Day, and in the run up to Easter when chicks and eggs traditionally take centre stage, here’s what I’ve gleaned from three recent pieces about hens, and indeed chicken, the meat:-
Will Brexit & Trump really force us to eat chlorine-washed chicken?
Well, that’s a pretty unpleasant sentence all round, isn’t it? And the implications are even worse. Certain farming practices in the USA such as the use of specific antibiotics, pesticides and growth hormones, and yes, washing chicken in chlorinated water, are banned on health and environmental grounds under EU law. Which of course applies to the UK at the present time – but in the future, who knows?
“That could all be set to change—at least in Britain. There are worries that the UK Government may be about to open the door to hormone-pumped beef, pesticide-treated wheat, eggs from poor welfare hens, and swimming pool chicken.”
Because right at the top of Theresa May’s wishlist as she negotiates the UK’s withdrawal from Europe is a trade deal with the States. Chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation Bob Young is on record as saying if any deal is to be struck, the UK will have to lift its current (EU) ban on US food products.
This is what we could be exposed to:
- The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) itself considers dairy cows too drugged up
- The World Health Organisation states that the overuse of antibiotics in American meat was causing antimicrobial resistance in humans.
- Pesticides, especially the ones used in GM crops by US seed giant Monsanto, are condemned by agricultural campaign groups for harming the environment and damaging native crop breeds.
- And then there are the so-called “ag-gag” laws in the US that make it near impossible to expose certain animal welfare violations,
including the trauma endured by those millions of hapless hens.
Did you know that in the USA
- There are no federal laws governing the conditions in which farmed animals are raised?
- The majority of farmed animal suffering is exempt from state criminal anti-cruelty laws?
- Many individual state criminal anti-cruelty laws exempt “standard” or “commonly accepted” agricultural practices?¹
Let’s hope those pics of PM May holding Donald Trump’s hand aren’t an ominous sign of things to come.
Our premier says not:”We are committed to maintaining, where possible improving, standards of welfare in the UK”. But haven’t we seen politicians of every hue executing spectacular u-turns when under pressure?
And in Mrs May’s statement the sting is in the tail: “while ensuring of course that our industry is not put at a competitive disadvantage.” Mmm, seems she’s already feeling the hot breath of the National Farmers Union on her back. They’re demanding a level playing field for meat sales and if that means lowering standards to US levels, so be it, is their thinking.
Read more here
The answer of course is in our hands (see below)
Crisis in the Chicken Coop
For the first time in 100 years those champion meat-eaters of the world, the Americans, are eating less beef. Sadly, although they are eating less beef, they are eating a lot more chicken. And it’s likely numbers will rise. By 2018 chicken consumption is expected to reach over 200lbs per head per annum in the US. There are at least 3 reasons for the trend away from beef to chicken:
- Health warnings. Folk are getting the message that red meat is linked to cancer, heart disease and diabetes. They see chicken as the healthier option.
- The message of livestock farming’s extravagantly huge environmental footprint is getting through, at least to some.
- And the deal-clincher: beef prices are nearly double what they were a decade ago, and now more than double the price of chicken.
If you think about it pound for pound of meat, in terms of hen’s feet on the ground this actually means an even greater number of individual nonhuman animals suffering at the hands of agribusiness for the benefit of consumers. This is why One Step for Animals focuses exclusively on hens. The numbers are the greatest. Therefore so is the need.
Nearly all of those 19 billion hens live a life of appalling suffering that has to be kept hidden from the eyes of the chicken-eating public who have no idea of what is going on behind closed doors. In Defense of Animals describes it like this:
“In less than 50 days from the time she is born, her bones will break beneath her own weight. By that time her breast valued only for the quantity of its white meat and not the gentle animal inside will be so massive, she will no longer be able to walk to the water bowl. Left in her own urine and feces and the bodily waste produced by up to 60,000 other chickens in the warehouse, her skin will blister and burn until the day she is brought to slaughter.”
Help expose the horrors these gentle souls are made to endure by supporting IDA’s appeal “to fund a secret Easter rescue mission that reveals once and for all how cruel and unnatural factory farming is for chickens, and documents the story of the chicks and chickens rescued to inspire others to choose alternative plant-based sources of protein.”
But let’s wind up on a happier note – this is what you won’t be exposed to if you choose not to eat the flesh of the hen
Maybe, just maybe, ‘clean meat’ will be the answer for those who still want to satisfy their chicken cravings – enter Memphis Meats’ first lab-grown chicken. Churchill’s prophesy was spot on:
“We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.”— Winston Churchill, Fifty Years Hence (1931)
The company served its chicken and duck strips at an event in San Francisco last week and it passed the taste test. All the testers/tasters liked it and said they would happily eat it again.
A pound of the stuff at $9,000 is not quite as expensive as the first lab-grown burger which came in at $325,000. The plan is to bring the price tag down to the level of supermarket chicken by 2021.
Even so Memphis Meats will have its work cut out making significant inroads into the quantities of factory-farmed chicken the average American is currently eating in a year.
Clean meat is so much more environmentally friendly than the other kind. Studies show clean meat would potentially use 96% less greenhouse gas emission, 45% less energy, 99% less land and 96% less water than meat from animal agriculture.
Of course the meat though ‘clean’ in that it is grown from stem cells humanely harvested one would hope from live animals and only a few at that, is not vegan as the Beyond Burger grown in the lab entirely from plant cells most definitely is.
Read more here
What we can do
Help save the 19 billion by supporting the work of ADI here
Be prepared to resist detrimental changes to our welfare and environment law here in the UK when the time comes.
Best of all, stop eating animals & go vegan!
¹Farmed Animals & the Law – ALDF
Crisis in the chicken coop – In Defense of Animals
Chicken More Popular Than Beef in US for First Time in 100 Years – Huffington Post
I just ate meat for the first time in 20 years – The Medium