Vox: Eating Chicken Morally Worse Than Killing Cecil The Lion
Dylan Matthews at Vox lays out how eating chicken may be more morally reprehensible than the killing of Cecil the lion.
Animals are conscious beings capable of feeling pleasure and pain, and we have an obligation to make their lives as good as possible.
But in a given year, the typical American will cause the death of 30 land animals, and 28 chickens, by eating meat. And these animals aren’t just killed, they effectively live lives of constant torture and suffering — not directly at the hands of the people who eat them, but at the hands of the meat producers who sell them.
Think about chickens, for example. A little over 8.5 billion broiler chickens — the kind raised for their meat — were killed in 2013, according to the US Department of Agriculture, accounting for the vast majority of the 11 billion animals killed for meat, eggs, and milk every year. For context, that’s about 1 million chickens killed every hour.
Broiler chickens have been bred to ridiculous sizes…
This extreme weight pushes the chickens’ bodies to a structural breaking point, and impaired walking ability is common as a result. “Broilers are the only livestock that are in chronic pain for the last 20 percent of their lives,” University of Bristol veterinary researcher John Webster once said. “They don’t move around, not because they are overstocked, but because it hurts their joints so much.”
But they’re also overstocked. “It’s common for 20,000 chickens to live crammed in one shed that provides less than one square foot of space for each animal,” the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says. “Another common practice is to keep these sheds dimly lit for 20 hours each day to keep the birds awake and eating constantly.”