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220 chicken adoptions
March 18, 2014 2:33 PM   Subscribe


 
Um, people do know that you can eat chickens, right?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 2:35 PM on March 18 [19 favorites]


Argh, meant to include (via)
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:36 PM on March 18


There is quite a simple solution...
posted by sammyo at 2:39 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I am compelled to bring up Sherwood Anderson.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 2:40 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Adopters may eat the birds’ eggs within their own households, but vegan adopters eschew even that. Instead, they might hard boil the eggs and feed them back to their flocks.

I'm very curious about the thought process behind this.
posted by cmoj at 2:41 PM on March 18 [23 favorites]


There is quite a simple solution...

Is it soup?
posted by fshgrl at 2:41 PM on March 18 [8 favorites]


I've heard about this issue - in urban centers there aren't even chicken rescues, just perplexed humane societies who don't know what to do with abandoned chickens.

As far as eating them goes, most backyard chickens would not make great eating. Maybe in a stew at best. And butchering them is a lot of work. And they're the wrong breeds. But it's possible I guess.

I have chickens and I agree they make fine pets and need to be treated first and foremost as pets. Eggs are a nice benefit, but you're guaranteed to have them stop laying well before they die. If you're not prepared to eat them or simply kill them then you've got the worlds least melodious songbirds on your hands.

I'm not sure how people can not know they have roosters. Commercial chick stores places have a very low rate of failures if you buy sexed chicks.

For my own part while I am very personally fond of my chickens if push came to shove it seems easiest to simply kill them. Abandoning them is basically the same as killing them - they'll succumb to disease or predators in short order. Or to find someone willing to take non-laying hens, although as the article points out, it's work taking care of chickens.
posted by GuyZero at 2:44 PM on March 18


I'm very curious about the thought process behind this.

They're vegans? I'm not a vegan but some people are. Vegans don't east eggs. And chickens will eat a lot of stuff, cooked eggs aren't particularly bad for them. One of my chickens was fond of eating the new feather growth on one of my other chickens, the cannibalistic little shits. It took me ages to realize that it wasn't mites or disease but overnight pecking. Once we separated the denuded chicken at night for a few weeks she grew her feathers back in and everything was well again. But chickens will absolutely eat their own eggs or each other given the opportunity.
posted by GuyZero at 2:47 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure how people can not know they have roosters. Commercial chick stores places have a very low rate of failures if you buy sexed chicks.

My recollection is that the best sexers still have a ~2% failure rate. So if people are getting multiple chickens (which people generally do), then easily 5-10% of people who get chickens are going to end up with a Rooster. That's a pretty good chunk of people. We ended up with 2 out of something like 15 chicks we got over the years, which was bad luck but there you go.
posted by brainmouse at 2:50 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Also, though, for the "lol chickens are edible" comments: you can eat dogs too. There are many people in the world who do. But nobody is going around suggesting that if someone either can't or no longer wants to keep a dog for whatever reason, they should kill it and eat it. These are people's pets, they have personalities and names and are really quite lovely. Sure, they are a commonly eaten animal in the US (though as GuyZero says these chickens are way past eating age so would be tough at best, plus are usually the wrong kind), but most of these people are not in the business of killing animals bigger than a spider, let alone taking an axe to their pets.
posted by brainmouse at 2:55 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


Also the easy to sex breeds are the least interesting visually.

But, part of keeping animals is getting a little more comfortable with their deaths. Or rather -- in my experience -- close to it, and a part of it often, even if still uncomfortable.
posted by thefool at 2:56 PM on March 18


Brainmouse, I would agree except that people are more than happy to dump them once they stop laying. Not really pets.
posted by fshgrl at 2:57 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Abandoning them is basically the same as killing them - they'll succumb to disease or predators in short order.

I have a friend who lives up in the foothills near Denver and couldn't bring himself to kill the rooster they ended up with in their small flock, so they released it and let the coyotes eat it. I was very disappointed, I was lobbying for stew.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:00 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


they released it and let the coyotes eat it.

It's less viscerally unpleasant for the people but it's the same thing in the end. It's probably less pleasant for the rooster too.
posted by GuyZero at 3:07 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure how people can not know they have roosters. Commercial chick stores places have a very low rate of failures if you buy sexed chicks.

My inlaws bought 24 sexed chicks, and got two roosters anyway.

They made fine meals when they got big enough.

Seriously, though I am perplexed by people who think abandoning a chicken is less cruel than eating them. And if you can't handle slaughtering a chicken, you probably shouldn't have chickens. It's not easy for a novice, but my in-laws were novices and managed. My father in law built one of those upside-down cone contraptions that you put the chicken in, head-first, then cut off their head before they know what's happening. You don't have to wring their necks. There are magazines and websites that tell you exactly how to do all of that.

It would be nice if local butchers would kill and clean them for you, but my in-laws learned that because their local butchers have to do a total clean after each group of animals for disease-related reasons, butchering one chicken at a time is too much hassle for them. I'm not sure what the cutoff is. But when they had to get rid of the roosters, they killed them humanely and ate them.

And if you are vegan/vegetarian/attached to your pet, that's great; don't kill the chicken. But don't abandon it and pretend you aren't a giant hypocrite either.

Re: not eating dogs, well, most people don't raise dogs to produce food, they buy them to be pets, specifically. Dogs are also a lot smarter than chickens and get more attached to their owners.
posted by emjaybee at 3:07 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


My little flock is just about one year old. We lost one in early winter, and while she wasn't a favorite chicken, I still felt a sadness when she died. Yeah, I could break my chickens neck, pull all of their feathers out, chop off their feet and head, pull their guys out and eat them. That is what happens to chickens we eat, after all. But actually doing that is unthinkable to me any more than doing that to one of my dogs. If I were in a position where I had a rooster or had to get rid of my chickens I am not sure exactly what I would do. The issue is a lot more emotionally complex.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:08 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


When we owned chickens on a small farm outside of Baltimore we NEVER had this problem. Mostly because of the not-so-fantastic mr. fox that would terrorize our coop despite our best efforts. He would stare me down from 30 paces in broad daylight. Before we moved I had developed a begrudging respect for his cunning ways, but I still haven't forgiven him for the full blown and totally unnecessary slaughter of a baker's dozen pullets (he didn't even eat them!).
posted by ghostpony at 3:09 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


They're vegans? I'm not a vegan but some people are. Vegans don't east eggs.

Yes, but they would have to consider the conditions their own chickens live in to be cruel or be eating balut for the most common rationale for veganism to make sense in this case. And whatever the rationale, how is it morally acceptable to cook and feed animal products to something else if it's morally unacceptable to eat it one's self?

I realize there are vegans who consider it to be a health issue, but that seems to be a significant minority these days.
posted by cmoj at 3:09 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


The killing part is hard to do; the butchering is messy. In between those two comes the thing that might put you off chicken for life: scalding then plucking the feathers. Oh, the horror!
posted by maggieb at 3:09 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Having backyard chickens makes you confront very directly the line between pets and food animals.

how is it morally acceptable to cook and feed animal products to something else if it's morally unacceptable to eat it one's self?

As I said, chickens already have no compunction about eating their own eggs and each other with no involvement from people. The only reason you boil the eggs first is to make sure the chickens don't develop the habit of eating freshly laid eggs and making a mess of their coop.
posted by GuyZero at 3:11 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


I'm all for urban chicken coops, and I am generally heartened by the municipalities that require some sort of permitting process before people are allowed to keep poultry.

One of the requirements for getting a permit should be: What will be done with the birds in the event that they are unable to produce eggs? Acceptable answers will be: Slaughter at home, contract slaughter (I have aquaintances who send their roosters/old layers to "freezer camp"), or keep as pets.

Listing "Find new home" or "Surrender to shelter" as options would disqualify you from getting the permit.

Even if your chickens are your pets and you can't imagine eating them. You can humanely slaughter put a bird down and bury it somewhere if you want. You just can't make it someone else's problem.
posted by sparklemotion at 3:11 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


On the flip side, there was a rooster that was clearly an abandoned pet that lived on the bike path I take to work. The weather in the bay area is not harsh, it was beside a stream that drained to the south bay, there was plenty of vegetation year-round. I would hear him crow as I biked by and it was kind of funny seeing him there.

Then one day he wasn't there... oh well.
posted by GuyZero at 3:13 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


If your chickens are pets first and foremost, well, then the eggs are incidental. If they are producing a foodstuff for you, I suggest you follow the path of some friends of mine who named their three chickens "Breakfast," "Lunch" and "Dinner."
posted by Hactar at 3:14 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Hactar, an acquaintance of mine named his intended Thanksgiving meal rabbit "Turkey" but then ended up giving it away to be a kid's pet.

I know chickens are not the smartest animals (and seem remarkably bad at seeing) but this still points out the weirdness in how we categorize pet vs. food. Rabbits are food, except when they are pets. Guinea pigs are pets, except when they are food. Dogs are the most contentious version of this dichotomy. I saw some subway ads in Seoul last summer by a Korean animal welfare nonprofit making the argument that if you have a pet dog, you should not eat dog stew. I think they were trying to make an appeal to ethical consistency, but it really just highlighted how inconsistent we are in general about animals -- see Hal Herzog's book Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals (which I feel like I plug here on MeFi every three months...)
posted by spamandkimchi at 3:31 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Two words: Artisanal Abbatoir.
posted by dudemanlives at 3:34 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


It's highly irresponsible of people to keep any animal if they're not willing to kill it if and when the need arises.
posted by ZaneJ. at 3:36 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


We have found out that our 9 lb, 9 year old, teddy bear of a Bichon-Poo is a rather ruthless chicken killer. We've had to face our neighbors twice with the news that our sweet Rosie had gotten a member of their in-town flock. It's crazy to see her in action, one minute she won't get off the pillow, she sees a chicken and all bets are off... I guess I need to advertise her services...
posted by pearlybob at 3:48 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


The tiniest dog are the ones that truly want to kill the most. I have seen many dogs chase squirrels, I have only ever seen Jack Russell Terriers actually catch them. And kill them.
posted by GuyZero at 3:53 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Our laying hens occupy a peculiar middle-ground between pets and livestock. We eat the eggs they produce for sure, but we didn't really name them. I refer to them as "all you chickens." I put one down when she got really sick, but we don't have plans to eat them when they start slowing down their egg production. I figure if they can still move around, eat bugs and provide amusement, they can continue to hang around. But then again, I've got the space to be able to do that.

A couple of them are considered dual-purpose - decent layers that also put on enough meat to make them worthwhile eating (Cuckoo Marans, if you're wondering), but I like having them around. I guess that leans them more towards the pet end of the spectrum.

And yeah, they'll eat anything. Even each other, if you let them. We'll feed ours just about anything except, well, chicken because it just seems wrong to us (even if they wouldn't care)..

One of my to-do projects is to relocate and enlarge the henhouse so we can grow the flock some. I mean, come on. Look at 'em!
posted by jquinby at 4:06 PM on March 18


Um, people do know that you can eat chickens, right?

You can't really eat these birds.

Chickens raised for eating are a very different bird -- they are much meatier, and they are slaughtered young.

Try killing and eating an old rooster or a hen past her egg-laying days. It's about as enjoyable as eating an old slipper.
posted by mikeand1 at 4:07 PM on March 18


For sure - a joke I read about the wild chickens on Oahu was around preparing them to eat:

1. kill the chicken, put it in a pot
2. add several handfuls of lava rock
3. cover with water
4. boil for several hours
5. throw out the chicken and eat the lava rock
posted by jquinby at 4:09 PM on March 18 [8 favorites]


I used to have ducks, and we would absolutely hard boil and feed the eggs back to them. I ate the eggs all the time, but you can only eat so many eggs. Over the winter if their eggs froze before we got to them (they'd hide them and lay in different places, they don't like having them taken) we'd hard boil them, crack the shells on the counter and then throw them in a ziplock bag with some lettuce and mash the whole thing together. They ate it like crazy, shells and all. In fact, they'd climb up our legs to get to the bag they wanted it so badly.

In the summer, if an egg they laid out in the grass (some days it seemed like they just fell out of them) was broken, they'd fight over who got to eat the shells. Birds eating their own eggs is not crazy.
posted by nevercalm at 4:11 PM on March 18


Coq au vin. It's a recipe made for tough chickens.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:20 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


"They look at life with the wonder of a three- or four-year-old child. You just literally feel the love they exude for each other and for us."

LOL. There is this particular look that chickens give you. It is not wonderment. They tilt their heads just so, so they can get a goooooood look at you with one eye, and they do seem to consider you. With what looks like wonder, I guess. But when mine give me that one-eyed gander, what they're doing is waiting for FOOD LADY to move her HANDS and drop some FOOD. And if FOOD LADY does not produce said FOOD, the chickens wander off to find some FOOD.

I suppose that same lasting one-eyed gaze could be misinterpreted as them exuding love. But really, I think the lady who they quoted in the article just needs a dog already.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:29 PM on March 18 [15 favorites]


mudpuppie describes it exactly. As for myself, I also see the ancient raptor eye that says, "LADYFOOD!"
posted by maggieb at 4:48 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


> Coq au vin. It's a recipe made for tough chickens.

Or in general, stewing is made for tough, gristly meat.

Cooking is mostly about making tough stuff tender enough to eat, and sometimes that means stewing, or grinding. Unless the birds are inedible compared to a lava rock (they must tell that to all the tourists, since my parents heard that one a few months back), it can be used to bulk up a flavorful sauce, end up in a spiced sausage, or any of a hundred dishes made for meat that lacks in flavor. (e.g. a whole lot of cheap breast meat)

Also, barbecue. not grilling, mind you-- grilling is exactly what you don't need for tough chicken. Low-and-slow indirect roasting will melt the gristle and lift the meat away from the bone. Smoking adds flavor.

hmm, I was trying to think of a way to end this post with "Tough Turkey!" but I've got nothin'.
posted by Sunburnt at 5:00 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I've raised chickens for eggs in a backyard setting, and when the time came, I killed and ate them. It was simple. The meat was good.

Who cares if they don't have the distinctive tasteless double breast of the Cornish X meat breeds? It's meat. High quality nitrogen source. Learn how to cook. Done.
posted by phyllary at 5:23 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Just the other day, the six-year-old informed me in no uncertain terms that we were not going to kill Big Red and eat her when she was done laying. Not any of the other chickens, either. No sir.

But what really does it for me is that he was underlining his point by gesticulating with a chicken strip. GuyZero had it early on - these are pets that happen to produce quiche as a side-effect. Smelly, cruel pets that can't be litterbox-trained, admittedly, but still pets.
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 5:26 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


pull their guys out and eat them

This has to be one of the most thought-provoking typos I've seen in a while.

As for myself, I also see the ancient raptor eye that says, "LADYFOOD!"

They really can be dinosaur-like. The first time I saw a flock of chickens fighting each other for scraps of a dead chicken comrade brought this home to me. They are mean and nasty and stupid, but very tasty and sometimes cute.

People leave unwanted ones loose outside of town here, and they are sad to run into on abandoned farms, huddled in little groups that decline quickly from predation and cold weather. It's definitely not less cruel than just killing them, but way more cowardly.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:31 PM on March 18


I suppose that same lasting one-eyed gaze could be misinterpreted as them exuding love.

A la Jake Thackray's Bantam Cock?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:50 PM on March 18


If you can get a vet to prescribe estrogen for your rooster you can easily get it to stop crowing.

Adopters may eat the birds’ eggs within their own households, but vegan adopters eschew even that. Instead, they might hard boil the eggs and feed them back to their flocks.

Chickens will happily eat raw eggs if they get a taste for them.
posted by yohko at 7:58 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


If you do decide to slaughter your old birds, make sure you get the axe low enough on the neck. Also, don't be like my late grandmother who along with a friend found chickens running around with their necks wrung so entertaining that they slaughtered several of the family flock. Her punishment included having to pluck and dress the birds. This was circa 100 years ago, so try not to judge her too harshly.
posted by TedW at 8:02 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I have a friend who lives up in the foothills near Denver and couldn't bring himself to kill the rooster they ended up with in their small flock, so they released it and let the coyotes eat it.

That's fucked up. Here you go, you mean nothing to us so we'll dump you in the woods to be hunted by a terrifying creature and then torn to bits. See ya.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:30 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


...you can't really eat these birds.

Chickens raised for eating are a very different bird -- they are much meatier, and they are slaughtered young.

Try killing and eating an old rooster or a hen past her egg-laying days. It's about as enjoyable as eating an old slipper.



It's funny how we've gotten so far away from knowing about the uses of animals on the farm--everyone's grandma used to know that the best broth was made from old laying hens that were past their prime. I offed the last batch of ten last summer, and most were made into lovely, lovely broth, but the three fattest were slow cooked and made great chicken 'n dumplings.

I would never bother to take an axe to a chicken. So much easier to take them by the upper neck and quickly sling them around to break their necks. Done in less than three seconds, and they don't jump around after. My neighbor can process a chicken in less than three minutes. North Dakota girl--chicken for dinner every Sunday. Me, I'm slower, but I get the job done.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:14 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Really, scald and pluck a carcass in 3 minutes? No kidding, wow.

I think the eviscerating would probably be too much for me.

Also I have not yet dropped my chickens-as-pets bon mot: "Pets with benefits."
posted by GuyZero at 9:30 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


"My neighbor can process a chicken in less than three minutes."


I seriously doubt this. It takes a lot of work to pull out all those feathers.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:05 PM on March 18


Gonna lay this down here because chickens.
posted by maggieb at 2:32 AM on March 19


Ultra-rapid processing is possible if you've got the wherewithal to build a Whizbang Chicken Plucker. Dig around on Youtube to see folks plucking a chicken in about 20 seconds. It's insane.
posted by jquinby at 4:24 AM on March 19


What I taught my hens: To eat grapes from my fingers.
What my hens learned: To eat grapes from my fingers.

So now I have to keep my hands up high when I go to feed them. Even then the bold one jumps right up on me, wings flapping, to get at those tasty fingers. I started re-training her by putting the grapes in the food dish, and cuffing her gently upside the head when she goes for my fingers. The first day I did this, there was no egg the next day. Coincidence?

I have killed and stewed old roosters. They were edible, but very much not worth the effort. I would do it again if necessity forced me to. Otherwise unwanted roosters around here are dispatched humanely and left in the woods for the fox. I feel bad about it, but I do it.
posted by evilmomlady at 5:45 AM on March 19


From the article: neglecting vet care is a common mistake among chicken keepers.

Seriously? When some of our hens got ill, we called every vet within 40 miles. They didn't outright laugh at us, at least not until after we hung up. But they don't do chickens. Best I could do was try to diagnose with the help of the internet, order some medication online, and throw it away when it arrived too late. They can make lovely pets, but they don't seem to have cat-and-dog status. And a crowing rooster is every bit as bad as a non-stop barking dog. They go all day long, not just at sun-up.
posted by evilmomlady at 6:08 AM on March 19


This isn't just a problem for new age hipsters in the city. My partner's elderly parents (who both have lived on farms at various times in their lives) started raising chickens again around seven years ago. The first third year (hens do about two years and then they're mostly done laying), they slaughtered the elderly chickens themselves and then tried to eat the carcasses or just buried them. But the second time around, Grampa had got too attached to some of the chickens and couldn't do it.

Instead, they found a local farm lady who was willing to host them in her barn as a sort of "old hens' home." This has worked out since.

It is precisely this problem that has stopped me from getting layers like so many of my pals. I couldn't possibly kill them, giving them away seems iffy at best, and I'd just have to keep them forever. And as I understand it, it's not like you can have three hens, and then when they get old, you add three younger layers to the mix. The older ones might kill or harass the younger new ones.
posted by RedEmma at 7:27 AM on March 19


> Instead, they found a local farm lady who was willing to host them in her barn as a sort of "old hens' home." This has worked out since.

Sooo, your partner's parents told him/her that they took their beloved aging pets to a nice lady at a farm who can make a good home for them? Isn't this the oldest trick in the book?

I kid, of course. My parents give one of our dogs away to a couple who lived near the beach. (We lived relatively inland in a famous beach town, possibly with "Beach" in the name.) None of my friends thought it even possible that the dog was still alive, because they were cynics and bastards, but seriously, the beach was 45 minutes away in the worst summer traffic; I continued to see the dog a few times a year until we moved away.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:09 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why vegans wouldn't eat eggs from backyard chickens. They are as happy as a chicken is gonna get.

I know a guy who lives outside of the city with a bunch of chickens and he sells the eggs. They are deeee-lish!

As for eating your chickens, the trick is to corral them up for 1 month before slaughter, don't let them exercise their muscles too much and over feed them. A farmer taught me that one.

>> And as I understand it, it's not like you can have three hens, and then when they get old, you add three younger layers to the mix. The older ones might kill or harass the younger new ones.

I think the bar near my place is exactly like this.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:17 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]


Dig around on Youtube to see folks plucking a chicken in about 20 seconds.

Just be sure you are googling "chicken PLUCKER" folks, there are just some thinks you can't unsee.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:48 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]


And as I understand it, it's not like you can have three hens, and then when they get old, you add three younger layers to the mix. The older ones might kill or harass the younger new ones.

Nah, you can add young ones to the flock, you just need to keep them separated for a while so they get used to each other. Then there is the battle for rank in the pecking order, and it's hard to watch, but not actually violent (just little pecks here and there, along with a lot of melodramatic screaming), and then everyone's fine.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:05 AM on March 19


Metafilter: Not actually violent (just little pecks here and there, along with a lot of melodramatic screaming).
posted by sparklemotion at 9:12 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]


I don't understand why vegans wouldn't eat eggs from backyard chickens. They are as happy as a chicken is gonna get.

Speaking broadly for ethical vegans in general, it's because we follow this diet in order to pointedly choose to refrain from consuming animal products entirely, altogether, across the board, rather than applying that decision inconsistently based on momentary perceptions of whether the animal whose, er, bodily ejections are on the table has lived/is currently living an ostensibly happy life. Same reason we don't eat oysters, pretty much: because ew, no. (Some of us don't even eat figs.)

And speaking just for myself, it's because in the decade since I went full-on herbivore, I've come to mentally file eggs under the category of 'hard-shelled chicken periods that begin to emit an otherworldly sulfurous stench upon the application of heat' rather than 'anything I would ever want to put in my mouth on purpose, unless/until I am literally starving.'

Farm Sanctuary is doing the proverbial lord's work, imo. Such good folks.
posted by divined by radio at 9:32 AM on March 19


Our girls are sweet, goofy, entertaining, and oddly relaxing to watch as they forage.
We've found using a "killing cone", which puts them in a trance-like state (they are upside down in the cone), then a nick behind the ear with a sharp knife (box-cutter), and they bleed out very quickly with no freaking out or running around.
If one eats meat, we owe it to the creatures we eat to (at least occasionally) acknowledge where and how we get that food. When we slaughter chickens, the blood and feathers go into the garden ground (deep, but this is blood-meal and bone-meal).

Moats disturbingly, we've found that chickens favorite food is...cooked chicken.
Cannibals.
posted by dbmcd at 11:52 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]


Speaking broadly for ethical vegans in general, it's because we follow this diet in order to pointedly choose to refrain from consuming animal products entirely, altogether, across the board

"Ethical vegan" means the reason for refraining is ethical. Ethical --> a human's right to happiness is the same as an animal's right to happiness, and that a being's right to be free from suffering is not contingent upon how self-aware they are, but instead weighing amounts of suffering. My suffering of hunger is much less than the suffering of being killed, so don't kill where you can eat other things, and don't factory farm since it is prolonged suffering.

rather than applying that decision inconsistently based on momentary perceptions of whether the animal whose, er, bodily ejections are on the table has lived/is currently living an ostensibly happy life.

Actually I see it as very consistent. If the chicken is happy, she's gonna lay, so there's no ethical quandary about eating those eggs since the chickens produce them of their own free will and their lives are free from suffering (aside from the general suffering of being alive of course which even humans have). Momentary perceptions? Not one being is 100% happy all of the time. If you kill the chicken to eat her, yes that is unethical since there are other things to eat. But if she's clucking around laying eggs then why not? In fact, if she's laying eggs of her own free will and not doing anything with them, then it is ethical to eat, since a person's suffering of hunger is greater than a hen's suffering of 'oh shit where did that egg go? oh well gonna make another...'

Unless you are of the "dont eat honey it's unfair to the bees" type vegan in which case I just don't see that sense at all. If a bee is going to vomit up sweet goodness that's his loss and my tea's gain IMO.

If you're squicked out by eggs in general then that's a different story.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:16 PM on March 19


"Ethical vegan" means the reason for refraining is ethical. Ethical --> a human's right to happiness is the same as an animal's right to happiness, and that a being's right to be free from suffering is not contingent upon how self-aware they are, but instead weighing amounts of suffering.

I don't particularly want to tip off a discussion about What Ethical Veganism Really Means on MeFi, but I should at least note that what you're talking about is utilitarian ethical philosophy a la Peter Singer and what I'm talking about is a series of highly personal judgment calls that are mostly born out through dietary modifications. One is not a requirement for the other. And it probably goes without saying that what you consider "ethical" and what I consider "ethical" are rather different.

More to the point of the article, where are all those happy backyard hens supposed to come from (even the AVMA gives their approval to death by maceration [PDF] for poultry "euthanasia," although poultry slaughter is completely unregulated at the federal level)? Yikes. And what happens when those happy backyard hens are too old to lay eggs with any reliable frequency? What happens when they get sick? Do they get to live out their natural lives merrily pecking around a grassy pasture, do they receive regular check-ups and acute medical care? Or do they get ground up, gassed to death, have their necks wrung, or get their throats slit like all the rest? And are they then replaced with brand-new hens, pulled from a mass of machine-pulverized unlucky pips and male chicks, thus continuing the cycle of unnecessary pain, suffering, and death?

The practice of ethical veganism doesn't call for a 1:1 comparison of human:animal suffering, only the consideration of a global, holistic perspective on the ramification of your individual choices. It also usually involves coming to the conclusion that the practice of animal agriculture is not something you want to continue to directly support with your diet and lifestyle choices, at least insofar as you are remotely able. Food is a super-personal subject, and everyone who isn't worried about actually going hungry has to draw an ethical line somewhere. Vegans just draw it at a different point -- not better or worse, just different -- than other folks do.

Overall, there will never be any kind of surplus of happy backyard hen eggs that will require any vegan to step in and start picking up the slack. The overwhelming majority of eggs that are purchased and consumed in the U.S. do not come from anything like Gramma Betty & Grampa Joe's Green Acres, and any/all ongoing consumption of animal products -- even "happy meat" -- begets only the production of more animal products. We acknowledge that are many other things to eat that don't involve eggs or any other animal products, and have realized that we don't need that stuff to survive or live a happy life; that's all covered in Veganism 101. Considering cannibalistic chickens and omnivorous humans SUPER love to eat eggs much more than vegans are likely to, why would we even bother? Because the hen apparently won't notice, and will go on to lay more eggs? Those just aren't compelling reasons to me. (Yes, I've had a hand in raising a number of adopted hens. And some roosters 2 roosters, ever... never again. But they all got regular check-ups and lived out their natural lives merrily pecking around grassy pastures. And they all ate their own dang eggs.)

Why are ethical vegans vegan? We don't want any part of any of it, or at least as minimal of a part of it as possible -- even flu shots have eggs in them. But we try to follow our own guidelines the best we can. That's really the whole deal.

The "don't eat honey it's unfair to the bees" type of vegan actually covers most of them (not "us," local clover honey is a perfect food to me). But ultimately, OK: You don't see the sense in our decisions about what we/I eat, just as we/I don't see the sense in yours. None of us are wrong, we just make opposite decisions based on the way we've interpreted specific pieces of information. It's cool, you can have all the eggs!
posted by divined by radio at 2:53 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


> (Some of us don't even eat figs.)

From the article: The list of surprisingly non-vegan foods is lengthier than some would have you believe...The source of the issue actually lies within the fruit itself… you see, edible figs can contain at least one dead female wasp per fruit.

I'm never surprised and the new and interesting ways vegans find to condescend to those who don't share their particular brand of religion. However, this one does sorta make me go "you're shitting me, aren't you". Considering virtually everything plant based contains some bit or piece of an insect, there's either a very limited diet or a lot of cognitive dissonance going on with some subset of vegans.

See: http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/sanitationtransportation/ucm056174.htm
posted by kjs3 at 4:45 PM on March 19


I can't believe I missed the chicken thread. I have 6. They are definitely somewhere between pets and livestock. I've named them all, but I've had to cull. Their names are Kabob, Noodle, Potpie, Marsala, Nugget and Shashlik.

They are freaky little beasties, but I kinda love 'em.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:27 PM on March 19




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