About the Volunteer: With a love for Ecological sciences and scientific journalism, Swagatama Mukherjee is a postgraduate student in Microbiology and also a bibliophile with a penchant for fine arts and Graphic design.
Who are we to decide the fate of other species?
“Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself”, an excerpt from a timeless work of literature, The Animal Farm by George Orwell stands as a juxtaposed reflection of a dystopian world with rebel animals and tortured humans in a unique twist of fate.
With humans amounting for a huge section of consumers in food chain, we often feel the need to decide the fate of other species with respect to which gets eaten and which doesn’t with no regard to their suffrage.
Our evolution dictates that the pattern of consumption has since the very beginning revolved around sustenance, ease and availability of food as prehistoric humans are known to have been excellent hunter-gatherers. However, in the 21st century with high supply and demand of food, particularly from animals, has revealed a shocking dearth of humanitarian practices, inhumane domestication methods and slaughter of these consumable animal species— an appalling reality under the guise of sustenance and lifestyle in the food industry.
Morbid world of Chickens
Packed into tiny cages like sardines in a can, with no space to move or even stretch around, taken away from their mothers at an early stage, chickens in our society are viewed strictly as commodities or objects essential to sustain a growing population; catering purely to the gastronomical desires of a society shackled by capitalistic consumerism, fueled by want instead of necessity.
Intensive chicken farming has been a common occurrence with over 70% of the world raising chickens being in sordid conditions that to this day remain obscure and are either overlooked so as to make peace with one’s conscience or are confined to the webpages of select organizations and activists.
Our species has forever taken pride in being one of the most, compassionate, logical, and pragmatic beings; however, such cases of inhumane treatment of animals in order to incur more profits, often make one questions the fallacy that is humanity. A sentiment of lost faith and apathy conveyed accurately by the famous animal rights activist and writer, Karen Davis in one her keynote speeches stating, “When it comes to animals used for food, humanity’s reasoning power and concern about fairness plummets.”
Flickering path and ethical extinction
With the pandemic riddled world, we have all spent time this year confined to our homes with family members or flatmates, and have felt the crippling absence of fresh air and sunlight from our daily routine. Be it a quick jog in the mornings or a lazy evening stroll, we have all, unanimously and undoubtedly left us felt restless, trapped, and anxious— feelings these naïve and innocent birds are raised and brought up with since infancy and hence, are familiar with. These birds are raised in overcrowded, filthy conditions, with the barren environment, fecal contaminated air, water and no source of sunlight, and as a result, most of these birds suffer extreme losses via diseases or due to inadequate biological factors for sustenance.
Instances of feather loss, respiratory diseases, hock burns on legs and abdomen are frequently observed in broiler chickens raised in sheds practicing intense farming in order to make the birds reach their slaughter weight in less than six weeks— time that is barely sufficient for chickens to grow traditionally. Most of these chickens which spend their entire lives packed tightly in cages suffer acute distress and welfare costs as most of them aren’t strong enough to walk or move about as a result of their heavyweight and subsequently weak legs, not being able to withstand the weight.
Furthermore, such rapid growth is known to exert immeasurable strain on their lungs and hearts and as a result many chickens farmed for meat often die in cages due to exertion or fatigue. This, unfortunately, isn’t the worst fate these birds have to suffer.
What's happening to these chickens?
Although farming chickens for meat has numerous loopholes from a biological and ethical standpoint, the discourse on slaughtering these birds using gruesome and utterly inhumane techniques brings about horrific tales that not only violate countless ethical laws and animal welfare statutes but are verily capable of shaking any humane human to their very core.
Electrocution by water, brutal bashing of the bodies and incomplete slaughtering by allowing these poor birds to remain partially conscious and feel pain are some of the most decrepit and sinister techniques cloaked behind an industry that chooses to ignore its cancerous ways of treating animals while reaping profits of these barbaric killings.
Other than local farms practicing intensive and bestial farming techniques, various incidents of several well-known global food chain joints having decrepit and heinous chicken welfare standards have seen to take place. Popular and crowd pleaser eating joints top the list of brands that have seen to employ execrable and dire welfare standards for chickens.
The cogs of change
For decades, many unconscionable acts of animal cruelty have finally caused the cogs of an indolent societal system to move and make way for change towards ethical and good animal practices. With various eminent activists and organizations joining hands to legally protect these innocent birds from heinous acts of torture in the food industry, alternate ways and methods encompassing three prime components: physical well-being, mental wellbeing and natural living are actively being developed and adopted.
Organic chicken farming in the recent years has come up with ethical, moral and biologically proper ways to raise chickens for later consumption. With ambient space to move around, regulated feed, and sunlight, these birds are allowed to grow efficiently at their actual growth rate and are encouraged to embrace their behavioral patterns such as pecking, foraging and so on ultimately resulting in a well-deserved healthy lifestyle.
Although, organic farms are not preferred by various fast food giants and stores, their products are often extremely healthy, organically sourced and ethically obtained in every way. With World Animal Protection’s exemplary initiative has focused its attention on this relentlessly overlooked facet of the food industry, with its brilliantly insightful campaign spreading awareness, succinct facts and robust research into the evils lurking in the factories of various popular food joints that make us our daily meals. A campaign and call for action that not only calls out the errors of our flawed society but also calls out to our conscious to take a step towards impactful and positive change, before we run out of time and before humans run out of humanity and derelict their duty.
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