Animal Rights

Four Out of Five Americans Want Factory Farm Abuses to End: Here's How You Can Help

The majority of consumers are happy to pay more if it will help reduce animal suffering.

At euphemistically termed "poultry processing plants," chickens are shackled upside down and their throats are slit while they are still fully conscious.
Photo Credit: vodograj/Shutterstock

A new poll shows four out of five Americans want food companies to reduce suffering for chickens raised and slaughtered in their supply chains, even if it results in higher prices. That's good news because the life of the average chicken is hell on earth.

While tempting to skim over, the disturbing facts are important to face: Most chickens raised for meat spend their entire lives in dimly lit barns, languishing in their own excrement and breathing toxic ammonia. The poor air quality can cause painful respiratory diseases and even eye lesions. Even worse, the birds are bred to grow so quickly that they often collapse under their own unnatural weight. Left to sit all day in their own waste, they suffer feather loss and ammonia burns.

Chickens who survive these conditions and make it to slaughter are shackled upside down by their feet and subjected to painful shocks in an electrified vat of water. Finally, their throats are cut open, often while the birds are still fully conscious. Each year up to a million chickens miss the kill blade and are scalded alive in feather-removal tanks.

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Thankfully, more and more consumers are finding out how horribly chickens are abused, and they’re demanding change. The poll found that 83 percent of Americans oppose breeding chickens to grow so fast they often become debilitated by their own weight and support switching to breeds with higher welfare. Additionally, 76 percent support ending live-shackle slaughter in favor of less cruel systems that eliminate the suffering caused by shackling, shocking, and slitting the throats of conscious animals. The poll revealed similarly strong support for ending other abuses.

In response to wide support from consumers, dozens of leading food companies, including Chipotle, Burger KingStarbucks and Subway, have pledged to ban some of the worst animal abuse in their supply chains. While these are positive developments, you need not wait for companies to act. Simply by leaving animals off your plate, you can spare dozens of animals from misery each year.

If you want to do your part for animals, the environment, and your health, many resources are out there to support you. Visit ChooseVeg.com for free live-chat support and meal plans. Read this article about how you can begin eating plant-based. If you don’t want to cut out everything at once, you may wish to consider eliminating foods that have the greatest impact. The average American meat eater consumes about 18 chickens and 12 farm-raised fish each year (compared to less than one pig and cow)—animals who live in filthy, incredibly painful conditions. Cutting out or cutting back on chicken and fish can spare dozens of animals each year.

If reducing animal suffering isn’t enough to motivate you, remember that decreasing meat consumption fights climate change. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, production of animal-based foods is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide pollution and the single largest source of methane and nitrous oxide. And the problem is getting worse: According to research published in the journal Nature, emissions are projected to increase 80 percent by 2050.

Reduce or eliminate your consumption of animals, and together we can end unnecessary environmental destruction and animal suffering.

Brent Cox is vice president of corporate outreach at Mercy For Animals.