This fortunate girl made it to Farm Sanctuary
There are lots of ways to help chickens, whether you eat them or not. Chickens, cows and goats are the most widely eaten animals on earth. And although chickens do have legal rights, obviously not enough. These fun intelligent social creatures who forage and dust-bathe (to oil their feathers) in the wild suffer terrible abuse. So let’s see how to help the world’s 25 billion chickens.
Chickens are one of our oldest creatures, and are descended from the oldest creatures ever. Paleontologists say that if you make the silhouette of a chicken larger, an expert would think it was a dinosaur. Far from stupid, chickens can remember names and faces of 25 people and run 9 miles an hour, showing that in the wild, they need a lot of space. They can see our colours (plus ultraviolet), use the sun to tell the time and can taste salt (but not sweet foods). They love to play, and even talk to their eggs, to hatch healthier chickens.
- If you eat chicken, choose free-range organic versions, for better welfare (most hock burns on factory-farmed chicken is cut away, so consumers don’t know). Free-range organic chicken costs more, so just eat less. Labels like Red Tractor just mean it’s British, with little welfare clout.
- Find more ethical eggs (and alternatives). Most male chicks (even free-range) are killed at birth (most hens too at end of laying life). Choose free-range eggs from local farmers or plant-based alternatives.
- Chickens (and all barnyard creatures) have legal rights. Report concerns to RSPCA (can be anonymous). Support chicken sanctuaries like Hen Heaven (West Sussex).
- If you have suitable land, no predators and money/time to invest in good housing and care, you could give battery hens a new home. If you keep chickens, this post has great info on what to feed (and not to feed) chickens. Many foods are toxic to them including acorns, avocado, chocolate, citrus fruits, coffee, dates, aubergine, garlic, green potato skin & tomatoes, onions, peanuts, beans, rhubarb, tuna or mouldy foods.
- Buy tees, hoodies & beanies from clothing brands that help animals. These companies use profits to help animal charities.
- If you are Muslim, One Arab Vegan has posts on how you can still be vegan, Ramadan & Islamic vegan lifestyles. Find recipes in the book Vegan Recipes from the Middle East.
- Use plant-based gravy mixes. Steenbergs Organic Gravy Mix for Chicken and 9 Meals from Anarchy make good stocks.
Don’t give leftovers from these foods to pets, as they contain toxic foods to keep away from pets (soy, garlic, onion, salt, avocado, mushrooms). For real chicken, never feed bones as they could choke. One wild mushroom (laetiporus) tastes like chicken, but is toxic to pets, and can give humans an upset tummy. Here are some safer (human) recipes:
- Try this recipe for a chicken-style Vegan Pot Pie (made with palm-oil-free vegan butter, recipe from this cookbook).
- THIS makes vegan chicken (and bacon) in 3 flavours: dark soy garlic, tikka and goujons with breadcrumbs. This brand was developed over 2 years with texture scientists and flavourists, convinced 25 food critics/bloggers they were eating real meat.
- Squeaky Bean is sold in 3 flavours: sweet smoky BBQ, kick of Tikka & Taste of Thai). It’s made with rehydrated wheat.
- Mercy Burger (Shoreditch, London) is a plant-based burger chain, which progressed from the original chain that sells free-range.
- Pieminster Chooks Away Chicken Pie is made with sunflower oil (no palm) and flavoured with celeriac, smoked garlic and sherry.
- Vegusto Pepper Schnitzel Steak is a Swiss-made gourmet meat sold online in the UK. The coarse-ground pepper adds some spice to the dinner table. Eat raw, fried or breaded.
Compassionate Alternatives to KFC
Kentucky Fried Chicken is the world’s second largest fast food chain (after McDonald’s) with over 22,000 restaurants worldwide. Founded by Colonel Sanders, it has had criticism from environmental and animal welfare campaigners, though it did give up palm oil. If you love fried food, get a air-fryer (safer than fat fryers) and an air-fryer recipe book.
Greenpeace has issues with where it sources soybeans from, to feed its chickens (it also is not happy with paper pulp used, from tropical rainforests). If you enjoy KFC, find recipes for Vegan Fried Chicken, Kentucky Fried Jackfruit and get some fast food recipe books.