Recent studies of chickens and their avian cousins suggest that “bird brains” have long been underestimated. Animal behavior experts say that chickens use complex vocalizations to communicate, can learn from videos and may even be able to count. They also learn from one another and have strong social needs.
But these sociable and intelligent animals are subjected to some of the most brutal and cruel practices on factory farms and in slaughterhouses. To take a stand against that cruelty, the non-profit organization United Poultry Concerns is calling for compassionate action for chickens as part of International Respect for Chickens Day on May 4.
Chickens used in egg production spend their lives packed tightly into cages, or if they are “cage-free,” crammed tightly in warehouses. Birds typically can’t spread their wings and may even die of hunger and thirst when they can’t reach food or water. Those raised for meat live in dark, filthy sheds where they breathe in ammonia fumes from the manure soaked floors.
According to one slaughterhouse worker, chickens are so terrified that they try to hide their head under the wings of the birds next to them as they hang from shackles on the slaughter line. USDA statistics reveal that as many as 1 million chickens per year may still be alive and conscious when they are dropped into the scalding tanks at the slaughterhouse.
Take a stand against cruelty to chickens with simple diet changes
Cutting chickens and eggs from your diet is a powerful—and easy—way to reduce cruelty to animals.
- Opt for convenience with a meatless chicken substitute like Gardein brand Herb Dijon Breasts or a Boca Chik’N patty. Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Chik’n Strips have a robust spicy flavor and are a good choice for stir-fried dishes or main dish salads.
- Treat yourself to a copy of the acclaimed Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and learn how to make vegan omelets with an authentic egg-like flavor by using Black Salt.
- Look for Vegenaise mayonnaise; it’s egg-free and cholesterol-free, but tastes closer to old-fashioned homemade mayo than any other brand.
- Keep a package of ground flaxseed in the freezer. When you need an egg for baking, combine 1 tablespoon of the flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water. Let it sit for a few minutes to thicken. Not only will you skip the cholesterol from eggs, but you’ll reap the benefits of benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Commercial vegetable broth powder or bouillon cubes can stand in for chicken broth in any recipe. Or make your own with this recipe from cookbook author Bryanna Clark Grogan.
- White Wave Chicken-style Seitan, a wheat protein product with a great chewy texture, fits right into favorite comfort foods like Not-Chicken Pot Pie.
- Finally, if you have a hankering to make fried chicken—or even a KFC Double Down with Country Fried “Chicken”—the video to the left of this article, featuring chef Joel Luks, will show you how.