I had a post all written last week about factory-farmed eggs and chickens, and I ended up not posting it. Because I don’t want to be Angry Vegetarian Girl, and because it was too sad. (An anonymous animal rights group in Israel put a hidden camera in a battery farming operation so you can see chickens stuffed three to cage without enough space to stand up straight, let alone stretch out their wings–on a live feed. It is, needless to say, DEEPLY DISTURBING.)
Battery cages are what the vast majority of chickens producing eggs and meat live in–the hidden camera shows the norm for chicken farming, not some horrifying violation. I find it deeply disturbing, yes–which is why I don’t eat chicken and buy “beyond cage free” eggs–but I find it really depressing, too: I may care about chicken welfare, but most of the world either likes $1 chicken sandwiches too much or really believes that food animals are too stupid to notice how they’re raised.
Obviously, I disagree. (I’ve always liked the Jeremy Benthem quote,”The question is not, ‘Can they reason?’ nor, ‘Can they talk?’ but rather, ‘Can they suffer?’ “) So I was pretty happy to read an article in Time yesterday about animal intelligence. In a nice, non-Angry Vegetarian way it pointed out that yes, animals should probably be treated better because they’re actually not too stupid to feel things:
If animals can reason — even if it’s in a way we’d consider crude — the unavoidable question becomes, Can they feel?…And what does it say about how we treat them?
[…]No matter what any one scientist thinks of animal cognition, nearly all agree that the way we treat domesticated animals is indefensible — though in certain parts of the world, improvements are being made . The European Union’s official animal-welfare policies begin with the premise that animals are sentient beings and must be treated accordingly.
Ultimately, a mainstream article like this is going to change more opinions than radical hidden cameras in chicken farms or earnest blog posts from vegetarians. But I dare you to read up on chicken farming anyway.