Chickens in Cages
On my long drive back from visiting family, we encountered a chicken truck.
A major employer in my area is the Tyson factory. Tyson, as in chicken. Seeing trucks full of chickens isn’t that unusual. But it is always upsetting.
Four, five chickens crammed into each cage. The trucks haul ass and, as you can see here, the chickens are pretty exposed. Their feathers blow around. Their weak feet try helplessly to grip the slick metal bottoms of the cages, so they slip around at the truck’s mercy.
The truck we came across looked exactly like the one in the picture. It pulled up alongside us as we navigated through the mountains. It was very hot. As the truck passed us (on the righthand side, I might) I noticed the chickens all had their beaks open. They were either overheating or terrified. One chicken managed to get its head out of the cage, but he was sticking out of the side of the truck and not the back – meaning this guy was catching the brunt of the wind. His beak hung open as his head swung around. At one point he looked right at me, before the wind knocked his head back towards the cage.
And I knew then that I would no longer eat meat.
It is not a big leap from how I already eat. We are not big meat-eaters. Our grill is rarely used. I might eat a steak twice a year. Chicken is more common, but even then it is only consumed 1-2 times/week. My kids just aren’t into eating meat. My husband likes hot dogs but otherwise he, too, is not a huge carnivore. So when we got home I shared the story of the chicken truck with my husband. He agreed that he would go vegetarian too. But what should we do about the kids?
I asked them. They agreed that they didn’t care if they ate meat any more. That settled it.
I still eat eggs, seafood, and dairy products. Since I am motivated by a desire to be kind to animals, I think eggs that are unfertilized from free-range chickens are ok. Dairy, as long as it is from cows and goats that are treated well, is ok with me too. We are also drinking almond milk. As for the seafood, well, I am just not ready to give it up. I need to research cruelty-free options (in the meantime I am telling myself that fish don’t have feelings, lol).
The kids have adjusted well so far. There are a lot of kid-friendly vegetarian meals like veggie corn dogs, fake chicken nuggets, etc. The kids have enjoyed eating lots of fruits and vegetables. I am exploring different recipes using beans, lentils, nuts. I don’t know how long we will eat like this – I think the kids might be the first to switch – but for right now I feel good about this decision.
This is such a boring post. Thanks for hanging in there. Hopefully tomorrow’s post will be funnier, and more interesting.