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The chicken meal that sticks in your throat

April 27, 2009

 

Battery chickens.

Battery chickens.

The news that new EU rules could mean battery chickens face increased crowding hardly merits belief. The proposals would allow up to 42kg of chicken (about 21 birds) per square metre. Frankly, I’m already nauseated by Defra’s current recommendation – about 17 birds per square metre – so the idea of packing more of these poor creatures in is shocking.

Stephen Fry once wrote that he didn’t think animals had rights, but that there were some rights humans didn’t have when it came to the way they treated animals (well he phrased it much more elegantly, of course, he IS Stephen Fry). At the time (I was a newly-minted vegetarian and a teenager) I was troubled by these words from my hero. These days – still veggie, if not a teenager anymore – I think he has a point.

You may not think chickens have any rights, but do you honestly believe we have the right to treat these birds so appallingly?

The Government, says the Independent, doesn’t want to make British farmers uncompetitive by ordering a lower limit than the EU one. Well, to that I say, consumers vote with your feet. Say no to cheap, battery-farmed chicken and buy Freedom Foods chicken, or better still free-range chicken.

If you’re worried about price, buy one free-range chicken and look to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his Chicken Out website for ways to use the whole of the chicken and get more than one meal out of it. We’ve got so used to cheap meat that we eat it without thought, and most of us eat too much of it.

You can also have your say on this legislation and tell the animal welfare minister what you think.

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