[Image: Bertha, a colorful rooster at PreetiRang Sanctuary. White hens are in the background.]
Today, May 4, is International Respect for Chickens Day, an annual event launched by United Poultry Concerns in 2005. If you’re not vegan—or even if you are— you might wonder why we should be concerned about chickens, when there are so many problems facing humans. Or you might think that respecting chickens means raising them on “humane” farms, or eating “cage-free” eggs.
Here’s the thing: It is possible to advocate for human and non-human animals at the same time! The Food Empowerment Project, which I blogged about earlier this week, is a great example of that. So are my friends on the Black Vegans Rock advisory board, including Aph Ko, A. Breeze Harper, and Christopher-Sebastian McJetters. And so are the folks at Striving With Systems, including Aph, Christopher-Sebastian, and Justin Van Kleeck, who cares for chickens as part of the sanctuary organization Triangle Chance for All.
As Justin, the caretakers at PreetiRang Sanctuary (pictured at the top), and anyone else who works with rescued chickens will tell you, these birds are remarkable animals. They have individual personalities and a range of emotions, and they suffer greatly when treated as products for humans to consume. Chickens bred for eggs lay many times more eggs than their wild ancestors, which greatly harms their bodies, leaving them vulnerable to disease and early, painful deaths. Chickens bred for “meat” grow at a much faster rate than their bodies can handle, leading to painful disabilities and early deaths.
Virtually all male chicks in hatcheries are killed shortly after birth, and female chicks have their beaks painfully cut with a hot blade. These procedures are standard on so-called humane, organic, cage-free, and “free-range” farms. Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary has more information on this sad state of affairs.
There is nothing humane about eating the bodies or eggs of chickens, regardless of where they are raised. Please respect these birds by going vegan.