The United States has one of the highest rates of meat consumption of any country in the world. This isn’t a title we should be proud of.
Each year right before the big game the National Chicken Council, a trade association representing the largest chicken companies in the country, releases its annual Chicken Wing Report. The report forecasts the amount of chicken wings Americans will eat over the course of the weekend. However, this year that number is higher than ever: a record-breaking 1.42 billion chicken wings, a 2 percent increase from last year.
This staggering number, while difficult to fully comprehend given its enormity, sheds light on America’s meat consumption problem. The United States has one of the highest rates of meat consumption of any country in the world. This isn’t a title we should be proud of.
More than 710 million chickens are slaughtered just for this weekend’s festivities, the second-largest day for food consumption in America. Sadly, chickens are among the most abused and consumed animals on the planet.
For the more than 60 billion of these sensitive and intelligent beings raised on factory farms each year life is grim. To meet demand for cheap chicken meat, the industry has spent the last 50 years perfecting a Frankenstein-like bird that is bred to grow so quickly that they often suffer from chronic pain and become immobilized under their own weight. Many chickens even die from organ failure simply because their bodies can’t keep up with the speed at which they grow. These poor animals have no chance to behave as they would naturally and have no choice but to sit or stand in their own waste. All of this, of course, before being slaughtered at just five weeks old.
To make matters worse, chickens comprise 95 percent of land animals raised and killed for food in the United States and yet there’s not a single federal law to protect them from abuse. In fact, there are no federal laws protecting animals during their lives on factory farms, and the law that’s supposed to protect animals at the slaughterhouse, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, doesn’t extend to birds, leaving chickens with no protections.
Despite being treated as mere cogs in a machine by the meat industry, chickens are sensitive and intelligent beings deserving of our consideration. Like the cats many of us share our homes with, they purr when pet. They’re also similar to our companion animals in that they have vivid dreams, even experiencing rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep. As for their intelligence, studies have shown chickens are capable of mathematical reasoning and logic, including numeracy, self-control, and even basic structural engineering. All of which are traits not seen in children until the age of four.
Want to help chickens this game day? Don’t wing it. Try one of these 8 delicious plant-based finger foods and be an MVP for our feathered friends!