Being a carnivore is freely agreed in my family. My husband and eldest daughter don’t eat red meat, and my youngest can live happily without appearance of meat. It seems to be a challenge to have dinners in our household, but we all make an agreement. For examples, I eat vegetables.
What we do eat a lot of is chicken and eggs. I hate to think how many of these creatures we consume a year and I’m not permitted to ponder that out loud, under threat of chicken disappearing off the table too. The best compromise we’ve come up with is to buy free range chicken that has been slaughtered humanely.
Unfortunately, it is by no means cheaper than ‘normal’ chicken, and isn’t it a shame that the distinction has to be made, but given other items we save on, we spend the extra cash to somewhat alleviate our conscience.
The image we have in mind when we purchase free range chicken is of happy hens strolling around a lovely field eating to their hearts content without a care in the world; until of course they hit the chopping block (that last bit is the part my family doesn’t like to dwell on too much).
It turns out the the term ‘free range’ can be rather loosely applied in many countries. The birds may still be debeaked and while not in cages, only have a square foot or so to move around in. They are crammed into sheds in the thousands and although they have access to the outside, it’s only the chickens close to the door that can get out. Even if they do have external access, it’s often to enclosures that are covered in gravel with no plant material or worse still, just mudbaths mixed with old droppings.
For free range egg laying birds, they are often still subject to malnutrition to increase profitability and live in eternal daylight in order to stimulate egg formation.
So, before you pay out extra money for your free range chicken and eggs, learn more about the farms they come from. You may be in for a bit of a shock. Criteria that your free range chicken and eggs should meet:
Clean housing and shelter from the elements
Protection from predators
No antibiotic use
No growth hormones
Natural foods + addition of vitamins and minerals only as required
The land must have shade, shelter and palatable, sustainable vegetation
No mutilation of beaks and claws
Humane slaughter in the case of meat birds
I can really understand some groups pushing for veganism; although I don’t believe I’ll ever become one. However, I would like to think that the animals I consume have not been tortured in order to provide me with a meal.