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 some 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 actually descended from the oldest creatures ever. Paleontologists say that if you took a silhouette of a chicken and made it larger, an expert would think it was a dinosaur. Far from stupid, chickens can remember the names and faces of 25 people and can 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.
Lots of Ways to Help Chickens
- If you eat chicken, look for free-range certified organic chicken, for better welfare. Most factory-farmed chicken has hock burns (these are cut away, to stop consumers noticing). Free-range organic chicken costs more, but that’s because it’s better welfare. So either avoid chicken or eat this, and less of it. Labels like Red Tractor have no welfare clout (just means it’s British)
- Same for eggs. Most eggs (even free-range) involve killing male chicks at birth, and older female are killed when their laying abilities decline. If you eat eggs, look for certified organic free-range ones. Ideally from local farmers, who guarantee the chicks are not killed, nor older hens slaughtered.
- Chickens and all barnyard creatures have legal rights. You can report concerns to RSPCA, this can be anonymous. Support your local chicken sanctuary, like Hen Heaven (West Sussex).
- If you have suitable accommodation and no predators, you may wish to 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.
- OGGS is a new liquid egg replacement that you shake to activate, then whisk and use, and recycle the packaging. It is virtually fat-free and based on ‘aquafaba’ (vegan meringue) and sold in supermarkets. Terra Vegane Omelette Mix is a German organic brand, which you can buy online. Just mix with water and fry, to make 6 omelettes. Hen Nation and Hen Heaven sell eggs that let hens live out their natural lives.
- Buy tees, hoodies & beanies from clothing brands that help animals. These companies use profits to help farm sanctuaries and other animal charities.
- If you are Muslin, 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 recipes to pets, as some contain harmful ingredients (soy, garlic, onion, salt, avocado, mushrooms). See more toxic foods to keep away from pets. If eating real chicken, never feed the bones to pets, these can cause choking). Although a wild mushroom (laetiporus) tastes like chicken, it can give you an upset tummy (try these safer recipes instead).
- The Best Vegan Chick’n (Full of Plants)
- Easy Vegan Jackfruit Chicken Bowls
- ‘Chicken’ Salad Sandwich
- Vegan Chicken Dumplings
- Easy Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup
Compassionate Alternatives to KFC
Kentucky Fried Jackfruit (So Vegan)
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 a lot of criticism from environmental and animal welfare campaigners, though it did give up palm oil. If you love the taste of fried food, get a air-fryer (safer than fat fryers) and an air-fryer recipe book
PETA (an animal welfare charity) is not happy with KFC’s choice of poultry producers on welfare grounds. And Greenpeace has issues with where it sources soybeans from, to feed its chickens (it also is not happy with the paper pulp used, from tropical rainforests). If enjoy KFC, find recipes for Vegan Fried Chicken (and get some fast food recipe books).
Where to Buy ‘Vegan Chicken’
Many meat-eaters criticise vegetarians and vegans for eating foods that taste like meat. But actually, there’s nothing wrong with liking the taste – and many people with high cholesterol would do well to make the switch, if only for some regular meals (white meat has the same cholesterol as beef), whereas plant-based alternatives have zero. Quorn makes vegan chicken slices, but they are pretty tasteless and wrapped in plastic. Here are some better alternatives (recycle any plastic film in supermarket bins, most now take food wrap).
- 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, they convinced 25 food critics/bloggers they were eating real meat. Made from peas & soy beans.
- Squeaky Bean is sold in 3 flavours: sweet smoky BBQ, kick of Tikka & Taste of Thai). It’s made with rehydrated wheat, soy protein and sunflower oil.
- Mercy Burger (Shoreditch, London) is a new plant-based burger chain, which progressed from the original chain that only offers free-range chicken. .
- 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.