Food

Millennials Are Speaking Out Against Hardee's and Carl's Jr. for Supporting Torture of Chickens (Video)

A group of of ambitious young volunteers are traveling cross-country in the first-ever Tour Against Cruelty.

Until a few months ago, chickens who are raised and killed for meat had no meaningful protections, no consideration for their wellbeing, and no hope. All of that changed thanks to a new initiative to reduce the suffering of billions of farm animals.

Right now, this fight is being led by a group of millennials traveling cross-country in a van for the first-ever Tour Against Cruelty. And they are winning.

Animal heroes taking a stand against Carl's Jr. for abusing chickens. (image: @PlsHelpChickens)

As the largest generation in U.S. history, millennials have a lot of influence and power over our food systems. And they aren’t happy with what they are seeing. In The Future of Food. Are You Ready for the Millennials?, this generation is described as discerning consumers who seek to purchase products from brands that “embody their preferences for authenticity, transparency and responsible ingredient sourcing.” According to the same source, 66 percent of millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable foods, about 30 percent more than those aged 55 and older.

With more information about factory farming cruelty becoming publicly available through educational campaigns and undercover investigations, it’s no surprise to see a major public backlash. Millennials in particular are increasingly demanding transparency about where and how their food is sourced.

The numbers are staggering, and the stakes for animals raised for food couldn’t be higher. Every year, approximately 7.8 billion chickens are raised and killed for their meat in the United States alone. These chickens account for 88 percent of all land farm animals slaughtered nationwide, yet they have no federal protections. This means that there is no limit to the horrific abuses they endure on factory farms.

The chickens on modern farms are selectively bred to grow grotesquely large at an unnaturally fast rate. This genetic manipulation has become so extreme that the current growth rate is six times greater than it would have been in 1925, reaching slaughter weight today in less than half the time and weighing nearly 4 pounds more. As their bodies are pushed to the extreme, the result is often lethal respiratory problems, heart failure, and crippling leg disorders. Some are entirely overcome by their own genetics and ultimately die of organ failure.

Those who survive live their entire lives in filthy, dark, windowless sheds that offer nothing resembling a natural environment. Scalded by their own toxic waste and forced to live beside the bodies of dead barn-mates, their suffering continues with slaughter. Current killing methods are so flawed that many chickens miss the electric stunning and are scalded alive, and then have their throats slit while fully conscious.

Hidden away in dark barns and slaughterhouses, these cruelties have become standard agricultural practice. Thankfully, millennials are drawing a line in the sand and standing up to big business, driving the change to create a more sustainable food system.

To bring awareness to these issues among their peers, a group of of ambitious millennial volunteers, with staff of The Humane League, launched a summer-long road trip coinciding with Warped Tour in the first-ever Tour Against Cruelty.

The tour is visiting major U.S. cities, already having reached over 30 locations and connecting with more than 100,000 young fans to promote positive change for farm animals. The cross-country campaign hits every date of Warped Tour, the largest traveling music festival in the United States and the longest-running touring music festival in North America. Hundreds of thousands of people flock to this festival every summer, setting the perfect scene for the Tour Against Cruelty to reach an audience of open-minded millennials who are ready to take action. 

The first-ever Tour Against Cruelty, a summer-long road trip coinciding with Warped Tour, is visiting major U.S. cities to bring awareness about cruelty to chickens in U.S. factory farms.

The purpose of the tour is to raise awareness about how animals are treated on factory farms, specifically highlighting the plight of chickens trapped on the filthy, crowded and abusive farms that supply Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. (owned by parent company CKE Restaurants). Throughout the summer, volunteers are handing out literature and educating the public about the mistreatment of chickens in CKE’s supply chain at both Warped Tour concerts and outside of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. locations.

The national campaign against CKE Restaurants urges the company to adopt Global Animal Partnership (GAP) welfare standards for the chickens in its supply chain, which will dramatically reduce the amount of suffering of millions of animals. The proposed standards would require the company to source higher welfare breeds of chickens to minimize health issues; eliminate live-shackle slaughter in favor of controlled atmosphere stunning, a method that renders the bird unconscious painlessly; add environment enrichments such as natural light and straw bales; and reduce the stocking density to give chickens more room to live.

Over the past year, numerous food companies in the United States have produced groundbreaking welfare policies for chickens raised for their meat. Animal protection groups and volunteers have worked closely with the five largest U.S. food service providers, as well as Subway, Shake Shack, Starbucks, TGI Friday’s and many other restaurants to produce timelines on these commitments.

The campaign against Subway was led by 18-year-old Lia Hyman, a high schooler and activist from Philadelphia. This young student took it upon herself to secure and deliver more than 50,000 petition signatures to Subway’s headquarters while organizing and leading a strong protest, resulting in a chicken welfare policy from the world’s largest restaurant franchise.

The progress that has been achieved for these animals is already monumental. Until now, these chickens had virtually no protections at all. It’s through the focused efforts of millennials that these basic welfare policies are becoming the new standard for all food service providers, grocers, and restaurants.

The Tour Against Cruelty is following Warped Tour on its final leg through the southwest United States. An interactive map and social media streams on Instagram and Twitter will help you follow along with the tour and find out how to participate. Join the movement by signing the petition or performing quick social media campaign actions through Fast Action Network, an online platform curated by The Humane League that includes over 4,200 advocates.

Join the Tour Against Cruelty. The animals need you.

Watch a video of the Tour Against Cruelty:

David Coman-Hidy is the president of The Humane League, an international farmed animal protection group. The Humane League has been ranked "Best In America" by the Independent Charities of America and named a "Top Charity" by the charity navigator Animal Charity Evaluators. Follow The Humane League on Twitter and Instagram.

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