This morning, Bus Driver Jim asked me where I buy my chicken. My answer was that I eat chicken only a handful of times a year and I usually buy it at the health food store. And it’s hella-expensive. He cracked that sort of smile thing he does sometimes and said, “You’re a real naturalist, aren’t you?”
The thing is, my animal conscience runs very deeply. I love animals, every last one of them. There is something in the core of my being that dismantles when I start to eat something that I know was not treated well and fairly in its lifetime. It is wrong to treat another living being as if it’s life is insignificant and then eat that same flesh, expecting it to nourish you. That’s just bad manners.
I don’t know the size of a chicken’s brain and some may say that they aren’t “smart” enough to know what’s happening to them. I beg to differ. Executive functioning is not a pre-requisite for experiencing pain and stress. In my world, the eating of a sad, angry, or otherwise displaced chicken creates additional sadness, anger, and displacement inside of me.
I grew up around hunters. They don’t stalk an animal just for the challenge of it, they kill quickly and by surprise because an animal running in fear of its own impending death releases all kinds of substances into its body which then change the texture, quality, and taste of the meat. It’s not all tree-hugging and naturalismo to want well-treated meat. It actually tastes better. Anyone who says differently just doesn’t like the price.
Which leads me to the issue of the incredibly high price of well-treated, properly butchered meat. It’s wicked expensive. That’s why I don’t eat it very much. If I were sacrificing the more important needs of myself or another by buying it OR if I didn’t have the financial, emotional, and educational resources to justify it, then I wouldn’t do it. But I do. And so I can. So I do.
But really, none of that is the point. The essence of it all is that a deer, a chicken, a lobster, a fish, a pig are all sentient beings. It’s not the “brain” part of the chicken that knows when things aren’t fair. It’s the feathers that want to ruffle, the foot that wants to strut, the throat that wants to cluck.
And so, I feel confident in saying that if the powers of the universe are ever exchanged among humans and animals ...
the chickens got my back.