8 Disturbing Things You Didn’t Know About Eating Chicken

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Brits eat an estimated 2.2 million chickens per day. This staggering number accounts for nearly half of all meat consumption in the UK. But do these consumers know all the facts about what they’re eating?

We Animals Chicken Crate CroppedJo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

Here are a few hard-to-swallow truths that you might want to share with the meat-eaters in your life:

1. Chicken farming is directly linked to the rise of potentially deadly ‘superbugs’.

Kept in highly unnatural conditions in huge, crowded sheds, intensively farmed chickens are often fed huge amounts of antibiotics just to keep them alive. This is contributing to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria which pose a major threat to human health.

Just this week, an investigation showed that UK poultry producers have increased their use of fluoroquinolones, a class of antibiotics which are banned in the US, by 59 per cent, despite evidence that they are linked to the spread of potentially deadly bacteria in humans.

2. You could be eating poo.

Research has shown that as much as 92 per cent of all chicken on sale is contaminated with faecal matter. Gross.

What’s more, the poultry excrement produced on farms poses a grave environmental problem, with the potential to contaminate rivers and lakes with toxic chemicals and hormones.

3. Chicken is a major cause of food poisoning.

According to the Food Standards Agency, almost three-quarters of shop-bought chickens are contaminated with campylobacter, which explains why food poisoning from poultry continues to make almost a quarter of a million Brits ill every year.

4. And it contains a shocking amount of fat.

One chicken can contain a pint of fat

A medium-sized chicken now contains a pint of fat. Professors Michael Crawford and Yiqun Wang of London Metropolitan University found that chicken contains as much fat, gram for gram, as a Big Mac. They analysed chicken thigh meat from several supermarkets and found that it contains more than twice as much fat as it did in 1940, a third more calories and a third less protein.

5. This is how a typical chicken raised for meat lives:

chicken_broiler_public domain

It’s not pretty. “Broiler” chicken sheds are typically the length of a football field and can house a staggering 50,000 birds each. There is often no natural light, and the air reeks of ammonia, which can damage the birds’ eyes and respiratory systems and cause painful burns. They’re bred to grow so large, so fast, that chickens’ legs often collapse under the weight of their oversized bodies. And they can be sent to have their throats slit when they’re just 38 days old.

6. You can’t trust the label.

Red Tractor, RSPCA Assured, Soil Association – these schemes are almost meaningless as far as animal welfare goes. Even on farms bearing these labels, animals are often mutilated without painkillers, artificially inseminated, kept in crowded conditions, robbed of their beloved offspring and shipped in all weather extremes to watch other animals be killed before sharing the same fate.

7. Plus, for every chicken you see on sale, many others have died along the way.

The system isn’t just cruel – it’s also hugely wasteful. Approximately 4 per cent of birds on broiler farms die from illness or injury before they reach “slaughter weight”. And because of the stress of being caught, crammed into crates and transported, around 20 million chickens per year are already dead by the time they arrive at EU slaughterhouses. And the insanity doesn’t end there. It has been estimated that around 50 million chickens are discarded every year as household waste.

8. Chickens are actually awesome.

Have you ever spent time with a real live chicken? They’re intelligent, cheeky, playful and sociable, and all of them have their own unique personalities. They can also communicate using complex vocalisations, engage in mathematical reasoning and are dedicated to their families. They’re so much more than a collection of nuggets, wings and drumsticks.


If you’re thinking about eating chicken – just don’t.

Eating vegan is better for you and better for animals. We can help you find delicious plant-based food instead: just fill in the form below to get started.

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Comments

  • Gillian DYSON commented on February 12, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    Shocked but not really suprised.. Commercially produced chicken off the menu now.

  • moira brabender commented on February 13, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    This is the world We should be living in. Ethical and caring for animals instead of the sadistic money making cruelty of these farms. Parents had chickens when I was young and I loved them. i do not eat chicken and am vegetarian. I leave others to decide themselves , but feel not enough information is released to the public letting them know where and how their food is being brought to them. Adverts portray wonderful idyllic scenes for people to believe everything is all well and good. It is not. Animals and poultry suffer horribly. Lets make our voice heard for them please.

    • Makenzie commented on April 7, 2016 at 4:35 am

      I became vegetarian a month ago but haven’t eaten chicken in years. I have 23 at home and I absolutely love them I couldn’t bear to even think of eating them.

  • jack commented on February 15, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    I eat chicken that has been humanely killed if there is such a thing, but i always ask if its halal because that is cruel and i refuse to buy it. I have chickens as pets they are ex-battery chickens and after looking like something from belsen they soon grow into beautiful birds

    • JANET commented on February 28, 2016 at 11:19 pm

      youthink if its “halal” then you must to eatchiken??Or you think if its halal then they die more easily?????

  • Farmer commented on February 22, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    What a Load of TOm Kite !!!!

    Never Read so Much P-ish in all my Life…

    • Fiona commented on February 24, 2016 at 7:01 pm

      Something wrong with your tongue?

      You seem to be unable to communicate in English.

      Maybe your fingers cannot work either?

      • rocco frangione commented on August 22, 2016 at 7:52 pm

        what do u expect from a farmer who just kills, & kills. no compassion. heartless

    • Sue Edgecombe commented on February 28, 2016 at 4:36 pm

      Dear Farmer (I’m sorry not to have the opportunity to address you by your name), I would like to share with you that not everyone has the thickness of skin that perhaps you do. None of this is P-ish – it is fact and something that I suspect many do not want to look at as it would mean they would have to change their way of life. Some of us suffer greatly at the thought of animals being in distress and/or pain for the sake of filling our stomachs or the beauty or fashion industry. Please have some respect for our way of life. It may not suit your lifestyle to think about the way animals are treated up to the point they are slaughtered but I am quite sure many more would make the change to an animal-free diet if they knew what happens to the majority of animals for slaughter and if they knew how to feed themselves well without it. This message comes from someone who wants to live in a world where animals are respected and, if they have to be eaten, then at the very least they are treated well and thanks is given for their life. These days an animal’s life is taken for food without one single thought for its welfare and with no gratitude whatsoever. Trying to protect animals from shameful mercenary abuse is not P-ish.

    • Arthur Cummins, Somerset, UK commented on February 28, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      Hi Farmer, Please be more explicit. To take issue with statements such as those you dismiss as “TOm Kite ????” & “P-ish” (???) needs evidence & facts from, ideally, persons experienced in the industry being criticized. I began reading this in hope of learning the truth behind the advertising hype. If you can refute convincingly, the arguments put by PETA, I feel you perhaps have a public duty to reveal the actual, hopefully cruelty-free treatment meted out to healthily managed, contented chickens. Truth, whole Truth & nothing but Truth is the salvation of Humanity. Best regards.

    • J.Mitchell commented on February 29, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      Well Mr “Farmer” as you choose to name yourself (as you must be too ashamed to reveal yourself properly.) Peta has proven and identified the horrific “truth” of what goes on in these farms. But “where” is “your truth” regarding your “Tom Kite” and “P-ish” as you call it? We are all waiting for you to elaborate further and explain yourself by means of solid evidence. We all want to see it NOW!!!!! – as opposed to just your tongue wagging and your mouth flapping off a load of BS.

  • Elaine commented on February 24, 2016 at 8:42 am

    I am vegetarian but my other half isn’t, I always buy free range chicken from liddle but do worry how ethical this is, is free range really free range?

    • Anne commented on February 24, 2016 at 10:54 am

      Hi Elaine,
      Unfortunately, “free-range” does not equal cruelty-free. In most free-range systems, thousands of birds are packed together in sheds where their only access to the outside world is through tiny pop-holes – a far cry from their natural lifestyle. Welfare standards leave much to be desired, and free-range birds actually tend to have a higher mortality rate than ones not labelled “free-range”.

    • L Austin commented on February 29, 2016 at 3:09 pm
    • rocco frangione commented on August 22, 2016 at 7:59 pm

      there’s no such thing as ‘free-range’

  • Andrea commented on February 24, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    It’s easy to turn a blind eye to the cruelty of the meat trade. When faced with the facts here, I for one am going to find out more about vegan food. If we were meant to eat meat all the time, we would have a mouth full of incisor teeth like the animals in nature who hunt prey to survive. We do not need to eat meat to survive in fact we can lead very long healthy lives not eating it.

    • mary parry commented on February 24, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      RSPCA started their ‘freedom food’ standpoint to try to begin, to make a start on welfare. They know there is a huge barrier and they understand that little by little works better than the blat that PETA does which can make some people think..foxtrot Oscar!

    • JANET commented on February 28, 2016 at 11:23 pm

      im totally agree with you..BLESS INDIAN’S who dont eat meat!!!!

  • Nina-Maria Walker commented on February 24, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    My Heart Breaks ! My Soul Weeps !! My Spirit Screams Noooooooo !!! Please Stop !!!!

  • Annie commented on February 24, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    Stop horrors with our friends animals. Don’t eat animals

  • B. Russell commented on February 24, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    My oldest hen was hatched in an incubator as a school project. I got her as a month old chick at the end of term. She is 8 years old and still laying. When she was 4 she adopted a couple of chicks I was given. They look very similar being the same breed , but I can tell them apart. Their characters are totally different. I was told to make chicken soup out of them when they stopped their first lay. Well I couldn’t eat them any more than I could eat my dog. They have earned their retirement, but still carry on laying. They take a break a couple of times a year, but why shouldn’t they have a holiday? They are truly free range and the eggs have really deep orange yolks and good flavour. I’d rather go without than eat those so called free range ones from the shop.

  • Sammy jo commented on February 24, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Have been a very isolated lonely vegetarian for 30 years, living with big meat eating family, since joining PETA 4 weeks ago I haven’t eaten one single egg or anything with egg as an ingredient! Thanks PETA! Try avocado on toast with salt and pepper it’s delicious and fulfilling! Also I’ve switched to coconut milk! DELCIOUS AND CRULTY FREE! No more dairy for me! Thanks PETA For educating me

    • Anne commented on February 25, 2016 at 11:26 am

      That’s great to hear, so glad you’re enjoying discovering vegan foods 🙂 Thanks for your support!

  • Doreen Nightingale commented on February 25, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    I buy chicken for my four pussycats (& one part timer!). I get them from a ‘good’ butcher and I think and hope they have a good life. They are ready cooked. I shall have to ask now what kind of life they have. Otherwise, what else can I feed my cats on? I don’t like the supermarket food much, and neither do the cats, sometimes. I don’t think what it says on the cans is actually what is in them. ‘fish’ marked ‘Trout’ or meat marked ‘duck’.

    • rocco frangione commented on August 22, 2016 at 8:03 pm

      this ‘butcher’ will lie & tell u anything u want to hear in order to sell his chickens. don’t believe it !!

  • Lynn Kilfoil commented on February 28, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Terribly disturbed by this. My heart just breaks.

  • Cecilia commented on February 28, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    I became a vegetarian as a direct result of having to disembowel chickens and cut heads
    off fish. My job as a home economist turned me off for ever.

  • Paula Purvis commented on February 28, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    I think God will share the vision of animal equality by people who don’t consume evil dead corpses of animals no matter how this meal is spiced up. See the vision of creation through a clean holy spiritual life.

  • Sally commented on February 28, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    I became vegan in January as a result of the Veganuary challenge, and I’m still contuing with it. I do miss cheese – had a couple of goes at making vegan ‘cheese’, it was OK and we ate it, but it wasn’t really cheesy! Never mind. Most of the meals I’ve produced, using all the wonderful recipes you can find online these days, have been rich and satisfying, not what I was expecting at all. My husband reserves the right to eat some meat if he fancies it, that’s fine, I’m not going to impose my principles on him; but he’s enjoying the vegan meals too.

    • Ruby commented on February 29, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      That’s great news Sally! Well done for keeping up your vegan lifestyle after January, and it’s great to hear your enjoying the food! Have you seen our guide to vegan cheese? Hopefully you will enjoy some of these tasty cheese alternatives: http://www.peta.org.uk/blog/10-vegan-cheeses-you-need-to-try-uk/

  • JANET commented on February 28, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    IM NOT OING TO EAT CHICKEN OR MEAT ANYMORE..
    WE are mooning if just little bit hurt our part of body,but what about thouse poor animals or bird’s who was killing without any anestesy????or what about animals who can watch how another animal’ss are diying in front of their eyes and they know that soon its their turn..WE MUST TO STOP IT..WE HAVE TO JUST PROMISE TO NOT EAT ANY KIND OF MEAT…BEFORE TO EAT MEAT PLEASE JUST FOR A SECOND THINK HOW WAS INJURED THE POOR ANIMAL BEFORE TO COME ON YOUR TABLE…….. :(((

    • Makenzie commented on April 7, 2016 at 4:43 am

      I became a vegetarian a month ago and I want to go vegan soon but I cant part with eggs I love them. Here’s the catch my eggs aren’t from the store I raise chickens of my own and get their eggs so can I still be vegan if I still eat eggs that are cruelty free ?

  • L Austin commented on February 29, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    If anyone doubts about the terrible living conditions of chickens consider what is shown and explained here by someone who himself is a chicken farmer;

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoOW1z85Qrs

  • Joyce commented on March 10, 2016 at 11:54 am

    I want to be vegan, i have a strong passion about how animals are not food however i feel i will struggle with all my family being meat eaters. Does anyone have any links i can access and advice on foods i can eat that is vegan friendly? 🙂

    thanks.

    • Ruby commented on March 10, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      Hi Joyce! It’s great to hear you want to be vegan, there are lots of resources and recipes here on our website. To help you get started we also offer this starter kit: petauk.org/vsk

  • Denise Long commented on April 6, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    I think it is a gross misrepresentation to include The Soil Association in the list of labels that cannot be trusted. Theirs is the ONLY label I would trust. They have very high welfare standards which are rigorously maintained with regular unnanounced checks to farms they have certified. I myself am vegan and would like nothing more than for the whole world to go vegan…..but it certainly isn’t going to happen any day soon, if ever. And while people continue to eat meat, it is important that there are labels that can be trusted to provide the highest possible welfare standards. I’m afraid that I don’t have any faith in the RSPCA FreedomFoods because countless undercover investigations have revealed that farms within the scheme routinely fall well short of the standards expected. When notified of this the RSPCA seems to go into complete denial and is unable or unwilling to take remedial action
    PETA please set the record straight with regard to the Soil Association……and perhaps an apology wouldn’t go amiss

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