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By Paul Graham,
If I were a chicken, I would not be covered under the Humane Slaughter Act, even though they slaughter so many more of us than any other animal. That means we don’t have to be treated with any amount of concern for us. Not that any of their processes or ends are any good. Death is still death and we always lose. Our lives are bad but our deaths are even worse.
“When others are being brutalized, silence is violence.”
- Shelley Harrison
If I were a chicken, I would make up 98% of the land animals killed in America. I would also be a living, breathing, thinking and feeling animal capable of so much more than most people would realize. I would be highly social, I could recognize my name and come when called, reason, think ahead, do simple arithmetic, navigate and do so many other things. I would possess high sensory capabilities. Many people call other people “chicken” when they are afraid, but I suppose it is because we chickens have so much to be afraid of. In the wild we could live up to 15 years, but our lives in captivity are just a mere fraction of that.
If I were a chicken and picked to be a “broiler,” I would live with tens of thousands of other chickens crammed into spaces where we could barely move, to the point that our muscles and bones would waste away. We would not know the warmth of the sunlight but exist for the most part in darkness. When we are under 10 days old our beaks are seared off with a hot blade. So many don’t live through that process. The pain is intolerable. In our short six weeks of living, they make us so fat we can hardly move or even reach the water nozzles. Many would die because our hearts, lungs or other organs just stop working. Our eyes are constantly burning from the burning smell of excrement all around us.
If I were a chicken and made into a “breeder,” I would be crammed into another small area and forced to breed over and over again over the course of one to two years. How can I be a “mother hen” when they always take my babies from me? This might go on for a year or two until I am worn out. Then they send us away like the “broilers.” People would come and grab us and throw us into crates for transport. Many of our legs and wings and even necks get broken in this process. Millions will die each year just in transport. When the big trucks stop we go into a place where we are ripped out of transport and taken into a building where they hang us upside down and we begin to move. A mechanical throat slasher then comes and attempts to slash our throats and end it all. The pain would only be for a moment. But sometimes it misses and just wounds us and then we are but into an electric water bath or a scalding tank to remove our feathers, even though we might still be alive and feeling everything. Do they really think we don’t feel any of this? Why wouldn’t they care?
If I were a chicken and an egg-laying hen…I might only live a year or two as well. I would be crammed into a small area only about the size of a piece of regular paper, two small for me to turn around or even groom myself. I might be among as many as 125,000 other hens or more. They want us to lay as many eggs as possible and they shock us into producing more than our bodies can handle. We lay eggs so often that our uterus can protrude out of our bodies. Sometimes…when it is all over and we can do no more, they determine we are too worn out to use for human food so they make us into dog or cat food. Even if they say I was “free-range” it might mean that they open the door where tens of thousands of us are for a little while to see if any would want to venture out onto the hard ground between the buildings just to be driven back in after a short while. This would be our life.
If I were a chicken and born a male, my life would be the shortest of all. Every year six billion newly-hatched chicks are killed just because they are male and because of breeding will not be worth as much. When we should be having our mothers take care of us, instead at only a day or two old we are gathered in great quantities and put in garbage bags and thrown into a dumpster to die of suffocations, starvation, exposure or dehydration. Not that there should be anything worse than that…but there may be. Other male chicks could be put into a macerator, a large high-speed grinder that grinds them up alive until they are reduced to something horrible that they may add into the food supply for other animals to eat. When we partake of animals products, we are partaking of death.
If I were a chicken, I would not be covered under the Humane Slaughter Act, even though they slaughter so many more of us than any other animal. That means we don’t have to be treated with any amount of concern for us. Not that any of their processes or ends are any good. Death is still death and we always lose. Our lives are bad but our deaths are even worse. The only way that we can live is if humans begin to place a value on our lives and choose not to eat or flesh or consume our eggs. The less that people want from us the less that the companies who keep us captive will use us, abuse us and slaughter us. If I were a chicken I would want to live and be so much more…but I am never given that chance. I am trapped. Could you help me?
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog, Eating Vegan in Vegas which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas.
Paul’s e-book, Eating Vegan in Vegas: If It Can Happen Here, It Can Happen Anywhere is now available at www.sullivanstpress.com.