Sunday, April 1, 2018

Chickens = cannon fodder for wannabe vegetarians

We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us
how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.
--Anna Sewell, author (Black Beauty, etc.!) 1820-1878

I know I’m no great hero for animals in being merely a vegetarian.  Even so, there’s one expression I often hear from non-vegetarians that infuriates me.  It goes like this:  “I don’t eat beef or pork or fish, just chicken” -- as if “just chicken” is somehow not the flesh of a once-sentient being, like other meat; as if the chicken supply is free and inexhaustible; as if chickens don’t feel the dread and agony of slaughter, which so many other animals have been documented as feeling.   

Oh, come on.  Most chickens by far are not the pampered backyard pets who live in pricey designer coops, eat carefully selected foods and are protected from predators and extreme weather.  For the billions of “commercial chickens” – that is, those bred to become food in the United States -- life is frightfully different.

a 'broiler' factory

You read it right: “billions.”  Of the land animals slaughtered for food each year here, 8.6 billion animals are chickens – nearly 300 per second. These figures come from Mercy for Animals, the book cited in my last post.  And author Nathan Runkle points out that “each and every one of these animals is an individual who suffers pain, who has a family, who has a story.”  

Years ago, before learning what I know now, I participated in a demonstration at a nearby McDonald’s, sponsored by PETA, I think.  Its purpose:  demand more humane slaughter of chickens. As if “humane slaughter” were not a contradiction in terms. As if as a result, chickens would feel better about the whole thing.  

There.  At least temporarily, this rant took our minds off all the hams served for dinner today – that is, all the pigs, smart, friendly and lovable animals that they are – raised and slaughtered for a celebration of rebirth.  Ironic, isn’t it?  But human meat-eaters probably aren’t interested in irony when it comes to their eating habits.  

More on home-visiting vets

A few real-life experiences last month illustrated for me the value of a vet who makes home visits – as described in a recent post here.  Bundling two reluctant cats into their carriers for vet visits took a toll, and I found myself daydreaming of a vet who would come to us (no guile or carrier needed!). Here’s a story about a certified veterinary acupuncturist who makes house calls in NYC – bless him!   

Poison-prevention aids

We missed the ASPCA’s poison prevention week last month, but it’s never too late to know what to avoid, what to do.  I’m reminded of a dear gray cat who hung around a local nursery, allowing petting and accepting treats.  Until he died of poisoning, the owners said, when asked.  As if that had to be the end of him.
The kindest possible thought: that they didn’t know where to look or what to do.  Here’s what may be the definitive info source on animal poisoning that even other animal welfare organizations point to for the quality of its helpfulness.   

Equal film time for dogs?

Kedi, the charming documentary about cats leading the good life in Istanbul, would make American cats jealous.  I’m not sure Isle of Dogs will do the same for canines, but I still intend to see it.  This review is only the first positive mention I’ve noted.   

                                                                                                                                        Fox Searchlight/20th Century Fox 


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  1. I also read the story about the vet; it's thoughtful that he always knocks lightly on the door so the ailing animal won't be startled.

    1. ahhh. another close reader. thanks, Unknown, for commenting!

  2. Someday we may have a mobile vet in NJ. I liked the story.

  3. We've already got at least one -- the woman whose practice I referred to.

    I'm hoping to hear from more people who have used these mobile vets; I still wonder (worry?) about the vet not having the needed 'paperwork' or back-up memory of animals. . .

  4. I find it is something of a relief to read about NOT eating animals, since there seem to be so few of us relative to those who just don't care or those who care but can't quit their meat cravings.
    People close to me can know all the same things I do, but when faced with a choice of Pasta Primavera or Chicken Parmesan, the knowledge all flies out the window and chicken ends up on the plate. I simply cannot understand the ability to "forget" about the inhumanity of eating animals! So I have to either pretend not to witness their ethics flying out the window, or become a personal police, which doesn't do much for any relationship. I am far from an expert at how to turn knowledge into action, but the one thing I know is that one has to WANT to make the change. So if reading about the grotesque factory farms doesn't inspire people to give up the meat or chicken, what can?

  5. you get to the crux of the matter, Joy, and I agree on the need to know more about convincing others to practice what we preach. thanks for commenting!