Animal Aid

Save chickens, go veggie

Posted 7 January 2008

Over the last few days, national newspapers have been highlighting the plight of factory farmed animals, and in particular that of intensively reared chickens. This follows campaigns launched by the RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming and celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, in which they attempt to wean the British public from consuming meat and eggs from intensively-reared birds. And rightly so! But let’s not forget that other less intensive forms of farming also inflict suffering and pain. Switching to ‘slower growing’ chickens doesn’t mean the consumer can rest easy. The only way to eliminate cruelty from your shopping basket is to switch to a plant-based diet.

Animals in factory farms are reared in the worst possible conditions, but ‘free-range’ and ‘organic’ systems are not the luxury environments they are often made out to be. Even in free-range units, thousands of hens can be packed into sheds. ‘Pop holes’ allow them to exit and re-enter, but some may never make it outdoors. Because free-range poultry are essentially the same highly in-bred strains as those raised intensively, they struggle to cope with the bugs and weather conditions, resulting in a high mortality rate. Free-range units can be severely crowded, and stress can cause the birds to become aggressive to one another. So, like their factory-farmed cousins, they too have the ends of their beaks painfully removed.

Ultimately, whether the regime is called intensive, free-range, barn, slow-grow, organic, Freedom Foods (where, incidentally, the animals may not even be free range), all farming involves animals suffering, disease and high levels of early mortality. Those animals who survive the growing process will face a premature death in the killing factories.

Tinkering with irredeemably cruel production systems might salve consciences but those who really care about animals opt for a plant-based diet free from animal products. Making the switch is not only easy, but it is essential in order to put an end to animal suffering and exploitation. And such a diet has the added benefits of being healthier and more environmentally friendly.

Order a free veggie guide

Could you offer a home to a rescued chicken, or know someone who could?

Brighton Animal Action has the opportunity to rescue 13,500 end-of-lay battery hens in July from a farm near Brighton. They desperately need homes. If you can take one, 10 or 100, they would love to hear from you.

The group also needs boxes, vehicles, drivers and people to help on the day. If you can help please contact Brighton Animal Action at or email

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