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Ten Reason Not to eat Chickens1. 'Bird Brain' Is a Compliment
Several recent studies have shown that chickens are bright animals, able to solve complex problems, demonstrate self-control, and worry about the future. Chickens are smarter than cats or dogs and even do some things that have not yet been seen in mammals other than primates. Dr. Chris Evans, who studies animal behavior and communication at Macquarie University in Australia, says, "As a trick at conferences, I sometimes list these attributes, without mentioning chickens, and people think I'm talking about monkeys." Dr. John Webster of Bristol University found that chickens are capable of understanding cause and effect and that when chickens learn something new, they pass on that knowledge (i.e., they have what scientists call "culture").
2. All Drugged Up
Quite simply, chickens are the most abused animals on the planet. Chickens raised for their flesh are packed by the thousands into massive sheds. They are fed large amounts of antibiotics and drugs to keep them alive in conditions that would otherwise kill them. The antibiotics make chickens grow so large, so fast that they often become crippled under their own weight. This reckless use of antibiotics also makes drugs less effective for treating humans by speeding up the development of drug-resistant bacteria.
3. Scalded to Death
Only seven weeks after they are born, chickens are crowded onto trucks that transport them to the slaughterhouse. Tens of millions of chickens have their wings and legs broken in the process every year. They are trucked through all weather extremes, sometimes over hundreds of miles, without any food or water. At slaughter, chickens are hung upside-down and have their throats slit, and they are often scalded to death in defeathering tanks.
4. They Don't Even Get a Lawyer
The billions of chickens killed each year are not protected by a single federal law—the "Humane Slaughter Act" exempts birds, even though there are more than 55 times as many chickens slaughtered each year as pigs and cows combined! Chickens raised for their flesh have their sensitive beaks cut off with a hot blade without any painkillers. These intelligent animals spend their entire lives in filthy sheds with tens of thousands of other birds, each getting about as much space as a sheet of paper, where intense crowding and confinement lead to outbreaks of disease. If factory-farm owners treated cats and dogs like they treat chickens, they would go to jail for cruelty to animals.
5. Do You Want Poop With That?
A USDA study found that more than 99 percent of broiler chicken carcasses sold in stores had detectable levels of E. coli, indicating fecal contamination. In other words, if you're eating chicken flesh, you're almost certainly eating poop. Consumer Reports states there are "1.1 million or more Americans sickened each year by undercooked, tainted chicken." Chicken flesh is also loaded with dangerous levels of arsenic, which can cause cancer, dementia, neurological problems, and other ailments in humans. Men's Health magazine recently ranked supermarket chicken number one in their list of the "10 Dirtiest Foods" because of the high rate of bacterial contamination.
6. Lose the Fat, Avoid the Flu
Both the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization say that if the avian flu virus spreads to the United States, it could be caught simply by eating undercooked chicken flesh or eggs, eating food prepared on the same cutting board as infected meat or eggs, or even touching eggshells contaminated with the disease. Chicken flesh and eggs are packed with cholesterol—a 3-ounce piece of skinless chicken breast meat has as much cholesterol as beef, and just one egg has nearly three times as much! This cholesterol, along with a high intake of animal fats, blocks arteries and causes heart disease. Vegan foods, on the other hand, are all cholesterol-free and much lower in fat!
7. The Most Dangerous Factory Job in America
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, slaughterhouse workers are more than three times more likely to suffer injuries while working than workers in other manufacturing jobs, and they suffer a rate of repetitive stress injury that is 35 times higher than that in other manufacturing jobs. The industry refuses to make working conditions safer by slowing line speeds or buying appropriate safety gear, which amounts to what Human Rights Watch calls "systematic human rights violations embedded in meat and poultry industry employment." Big chicken companies such as Tyson and Perdue also exploit contract factory-farm operators, whom Auburn University economist Robert Taylor calls "serfs with a mortgage." Contract factory farmers are forced to foot the bill for building and maintaining massive factory farms, which puts them deeply into debt and can drive them to financial ruin if their company cancels future contracts with them.
8. Motherly Love
In a natural setting, a hen will cluck to her chicks before they even hatch while she sits on the eggs in her nest. They peep back to her and to each other through their shells. In factory farms, eggs are taken from the mother as soon as they are laid and put in large incubators—a chick will never meet his or her parents. Hens prefer to have private nests hidden from predators and will often go without food or water in order to obtain a private nest. This demonstrates the fact that hens will sacrifice their own comfort if it means protecting their chicks.
9. Chicken Sh*t
Raising 9 billion chickens in factory farms each year produces enormous amounts of excrement. Oregon State University agriculture professor Peter Cheeke says that factory farming amounts to "a frontal assault on the environment," which leads to widespread fecal ground and water pollution. Because chickens are fed massive amounts of drugs, hormones, and pesticides, these chemicals are also found in high concentrations in their feces, which means that fecal pollution from chicken farms is especially disastrous for the environment. In West Virginia and Maryland, for example, scientists have recently discovered that male fish are growing ovaries, and they suspect that this freakish deformity is the result of factory-farm runoff from drug-laden chicken feces.
10. Better Than the Original
Do you like the taste of chicken flesh but don't like the suffering? No problem—try some of the fantastic alternatives now available, such as Boca Chik'n Nuggets, Gardenburger's Meatless Buffalo Chicken Wings, and Yves Veggie Chicken Burgers. These super-tasty foods are high in protein, cruelty- and cholesterol- free, and available at your local supermarket. Instead of eggs, try tofu scramble, whip up some vegan French toast, or check out our egg-free baking tips.
ANIMALS USED FOR FOOD
Cruelty to Animals
Farmed animals are every bit as intelligent and capable of feeling pain as the dogs and cats we cherish as our companions. They are inquisitive, interesting individuals who value their lives, solve problems, experience fear and pain, and are capable of using tools.
Yet the more than 16 billion animals who are killed for food every year in the U.S. have little legal protection from cruelty that would be illegal if it were inflicted on companion dogs or cats. They are neglected, mutilated, genetically manipulated, put on drug regimens that cause chronic pain and crippling, transported through all weather extremes, and killed in gruesome and violent ways.
Even so-called "free-range" animals are often mutilated without the benefit of painkillers; kept in filthy, disease-ridden sheds; forced to endure long trips to the slaughterhouse without food or water; and killed in the same ways as animals from factory farms. Going vegan is the best way to stop these atrocities.
Giving meat the boot is also the best way to ensure a lifetime of good health. Vegan foods provide us with all the nutrients that we need, minus the saturated fat, cholesterol, and contaminants that are found in meat, eggs, and dairy products. Plant-based diets help protect us from heart disease, diabetes, obesity, strokes, and several types of cancer. Vegans also tend to have stronger immune systems and, on average, live 10 years longer than meat-eaters do.
Going vegan helps keep the Earth healthy too. America's meat addiction is poisoning and depleting our drinking water, arable land, and clean air. More than half the water used in the U.S. goes to animal agriculture, and since farmed animals produce 130 times more excrement than the human population does, the runoff from their waste greatly pollutes our waterways.
Not only does raising animals for food gobble up precious resources and produce tons of waste, it also steals food from hungry people. Raising animals for food is extremely inefficient. For every pound of food that they eat, only a fraction of the calories are returned in the form of edible flesh. If we stopped intensively breeding farmed animals and grew crops to feed humans instead, we could easily feed every human on the planet with healthy and affordable vegetarian foods.
Animals aren't the only ones who are abused by the meat industry. Human Rights Watch has said that slaughterhouse workers have "the most dangerous factory job in America." The industry has refused to do what's necessary to create safe working conditions for its employees, such as slowing down slaughter lines and supplying workers with appropriate safety gear, because these changes could cut into companies' bottom lines. Many workers endure crippling injuries and many have even lost their limbs—or their lives—from working with dangerous meat-processing machines. Refusing to buy or eat meat ensures that you aren't contributing to this exploitative industry.
Factory Farms: Poisoning Communities
People who live near factory farms suffer too. Factory farms pollute the air and water for many miles in every direction, often spreading contamination and illness to the people who live and work nearby. Chronic sickness, brain damage, poisoned waterways, elevated cancer rates, and even death plague these communities, while the government does nothing to protect citizens or regulate the industry. It's up to us to help stop these farms from poisoning small-town America by refusing to buy their products.
Between 2000 and 2005, agribusinesses funneled more than $140 million to politicians, who helped to ensure that laws that might protect consumers, animals, and the environment did not pass. The federal government does little to protect human health, animal welfare, and our environment from the factory-farming industry's negligence and excess, but each of us can make a major difference by going vegan and encouraging our friends and family to do the same.
Take PETA's Pledge to Be Vegan for 30 Days, and we'll send you tips and recipes to help you get started on a healthier, more compassionate way of life.
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MORE REASONS TO BE VEGAN
When you add up the damage that the meat industry does to workers, the environment, and animals, the question isn't really "Why should I go vegan?"—it's "Why wouldn't
I go vegan?" In case you need any other reasons, here are five more.
Because It's the Only Way to End World Hunger
There is more than enough food in the world to feed the entire human population. So why are more than a billion people still going hungry? Our meat-based diet is largely to blame. We funnel huge amounts of grain, soybeans, and corn through all the animals we use for food instead of feeding starving humans. If we stopped intensively breeding farmed animals and grew crops to feed humans instead, we could easily feed everyone on the planet with healthy and affordable vegetarian foods.
Raising animals for food is extremely inefficient. For every pound of food that farmed animals are fed, only a fraction of the calories are returned in the form of edible flesh. The rest of those calories are burned away raising the animal to slaughter weight or contributing to feathers, bone, skin, blood, and other parts of the animal that are not eaten by humans. This is why animals raised for food have to eat as many as 16 pounds of grain to create just 1 pound of edible flesh. The prestigious Worldwatch Institute states, "[M]eat consumption is an inefficient use of grain—the grain is used more efficiently when consumed directly by humans. Continued growth in meat output is dependent on feeding grain to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat-eaters and the world's poor."
As a meat-based diet spreads to developing countries, farmers who are trying to feed themselves are being driven off their land. Their efficient, plant-based agricultural model is being replaced with intensive livestock rearing, which also pollutes the air and water and renders the once-fertile land dead and barren. If this trend continues, the developing world will never be able to produce enough food to feed itself, and hunger will continue to plague hundreds of millions of people around the globe. Author George Monbiot, writing in the U.K.'s The Guardian, explains that there's only one solution: "It now seems plain that [a vegan diet] is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world's most urgent social justice issue."
There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth. It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors. Just this side of Rainbow Bridge is a special land.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills and valleys with lush green grass for all of our special friends, so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food and water and sunshine, and our friends are warn and comfortable. All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again...just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing. They miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. The bright eyes are intent, the nose twitches and the eager body quivers. Suddenly, this one breaks away from the group, flying over the green grass, legs carrying them faster and faster.
YOU have been spotted and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, NEVER to be parted again! The happy kisses rain upon your face. Your hands again caress the beloved head and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet...so long gone from your life, but never absent from your heart.
Then, you cross the Rainbow Bridge together...
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