June 25, 2009

When chickens suffer, so do we

People who have been eating chicken for its comparative health benefits might want to reconsider. According to a recent report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), poultry is the number one source of food-borne illness in the United States. This is due to a combination of intensely confined living conditions that breed disease and a meat production process that passes it along.

During processing, the slaughtered birds are placed in tanks of cold water to keep the carcasses from decomposing. If one bird is infected, all the chickens in that tank are at risk of being similarly contaminated with fecal material containing bacteria such as Campylobacter and Salmonella, some of which can be lethal. The packaging process further compounds the problem because the tank water is retained with the chicken.

Organic chicken contains the same health hazards, as “organic” only refers to what the chickens are fed, not to the slaughtering process. In December 2008, the nation’s largest poultry producer filed for bankruptcy protection due to the unpredictable fluctuation of feed grain prices, grains that could otherwise be fed to starving people worldwide.

Although these descriptions of the poultry industry and the suffering of chickens are truly distressing, we are glad for these illuminated truths. Let us all turn to the most sustainable way to live – health-wise, economically, and environmentally – the vegan way!

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