Monday, October 26, 2009

More vegetarians needed

Helpless chickens crammed into crates ... will soon lie dead on humans' plates.

On Saturday, heading back to civilization (after my spontaneous drive to Salybia), I ended up at a red light. As I sat there waiting for green, a foul stench wafted into my car. I looked to the vehicle at my right and saw a horrendous sight - one that I always dread seeing on the roadways: hundreds of chickens crammed into crates on the back of a truck in the hot sun. I had never been this close to crated chickens before. The poor creatures were terrified. Some were heaving, with their beaks frozen wide open. Some were making whimpering noises, sounding like frightened puppies. Some just looked like stunned statues. They all appeared wet and bedraggled, as though sweating with fear. I sensed that the foul odour was more as a result of terror than 'poor hygiene'.

Is this how 'being chicken' came to mean 'being afraid'?

There were two men sitting in the front of the truck, looking casual and unconcerned. How did they feel, transporting these animals to their fate? Perhaps, being used to this, they felt nothing. To them, the chickens were probably just 'birds' who don't have feelings and don't know any better.

Au contraire ...

When in Toronto over the summer, I was impressed by a series of ads on the subway promoting vegetarianism (from "Why love one and eat the other?" One poster, dealing with chickens, stated the following facts about these underestimated animals:

Like the animals we cherish as our companions, chickens by nature are inquisitive, affectionate, and personable.

Chickens are intelligent problem-solvers who possess some cognitive abilities more advanced
than those of cats, dogs, and even some primates.

Chickens have close family ties. They will fight foxes and eagles to protect their family members and they mourn the loss of a loved one.

A mother hen begins bonding with her chicks before they even hatch by softly clucking to her
unborn, who chirp back to her from inside their shells.

Think of the terror these sensitive and intelligent animals must go through to become KFC or the next barbeque.


Anonymous said...

They can be totally adorable. Not to mention the males are fabulous flamenco dancers, it just warms my heart when one of my roosters comes and gives me a little dance in a semi-circle.

My 'chooks' come running and flinging themselves at me when they hear my voice. They know 'mummy' is calling them and a tasty meal is involved.


Ticky said...

It really is heart-wrenching seeing animals in these type of conditions. If more people were exposed to scenes like these and really see the conditions these animals are always in less of them would opt for the fried chicken and hamburger, not all...but I think a lot would be converted. The conditions are horrific.

Elspeth said...

Victoria, yes I know you have a special love for your pet chickens.

Ticky, you have a point.

Kimberlie said...

Thanks for the post. I could feel your sadness and their stress.

I raised chickens for a little bit.

I was a vegetarian for seven years.

I eat meat now but far less often after seeing which reminded me of all the reasons I stopped eating meat in the first place.

Now, when I eat meat, I eat it from cows and pigs raised on local farms and killed there. If I had to kill my meat myself, I wouldn't eat it at all.

I am not where I want to be here. It's a struggle.

Lynn Cohen said...

You got to me with this post. But will it make me change my eating habits? Probably not.

Elspeth said...

Kim, I wouldn't even bother to look at that link.

Lynn, you never know what could happen. But, some people do love their meat.

Chookooloonks said...

For 7 years I ate no meat but seafood. Then my daughter was born, and I went back to eating meat.

In 2008, I gave up all meat except for seafood.

In 2009, I gave up seafood. I'm coming up on 1 year of being officially vegetarian (though not vegan. I can't quite give up the dairy yet).

I have to say, I am surprised how much I don't miss meat. Or seafood! I would've NEVER thought I'd get over seafood!

Of course, posts like this help make my decision easier.

Thanks for this.


Elspeth said...

K, people overestimate meat ... so no wonder you don't miss it.

Kris Loya said...

i HATE seeing that i have always hated seeing that.
I've tried being vegetarian when i was younger and now i've been meat free for well over a year. Don't miss it. I was vegan in the beginning and i'm vegan again now.
I think i prefer vegan. I was totally blind to the treatment of animals for food and when my eyes were opened through the book 'skinny bitch' i started a 'veggie lifestyle' and I'm happy about that!
As much as i hate seeing that sight in your photo - we need more awareness and education. Here too there are many ads for Go Veg!

LoLa said...

I love knowing these facts about chickens! Thanks for the information. I've been a vegetarian for four months. I love anything like this that helps me keep the faith.

I live an hour from the heart of chicken house country. It makes my soul sick when I travel through the country where my daddy was born and my grandmother still lies and see the locals' livelihood so tied to the economy of raising chickens in those cages.