2014 Conscious Eating Conference: Session #1: A Chicken or This Chicken
Speaker: Mary Britton Clouse, President, Chicken Run Rescue, www.chickenrunrescue.org
Mary Britton Clouse has served as President of Minnesota Animal Rights Coalition, founded the Minnesota Spay/Neuter Project, Legislative Efforts for Animal Protection, and most recently Chicken Run Rescue and Justice for Animals Arts Guild.
She begins by saying, “an unthinkable number of animals are killed for our food today. Each animal suffers profoundly, and we need to challenge the thinking that we’re entitled to have dominion over them and kill them. Truly knowing an animal comes from loving who they are, not what can be taken from them.” She further says how “horrific acts of violence are being committed against food animals today in the U.S. It’s literally ‘Food Animal Hell’ for them.”
Clouse, who rescues chickens, shares that chickens raised in backyards are often neglected, abandoned and starved in enormous numbers across the country today, because people don’t know how to take care of them or grow tired of caring for them. “People think it’s a good idea to raise chickens, but they’re inexperienced and eventually grow tired, neglect and abandon them.”
Clouse talked about how chickens make wonderful companions and pets for humans and are extremely smart. She argues that “suffering is always experienced at the individual level,” and “what happens to them—matters to them.” She references animals that are used for science, live on factory farms, or are exploited for our gain, when she says, “animals should not be used as commodities, and exploiting the weakness of others is wrong in so many ways, especially for animals.”
In referring to how we view animals she claims, “our personal experiences with animals often shape and reshape our appreciation of animals and allows us to ‘individualize’ them. Instead we see an actual ‘life’ and we notice how each one is different from the others.”
In advocating for an animal-free diet Clouse suggests, “it’s easy when you see individual animals and develop relationships with animals, and see that they are sentient beings. When a being is objectified by what they’re good for, they disappear.” She encourages us to see animals not as subjects or objects but as our consorts.
When talking about egg-laying hens Clouse states, “female animals are kept in sexual slavery, either for producing offspring or eggs for consumption.” She emphasized the ethical and moral issue in using these animals for food, not only for health concerns and environmental questions or issues that arise. “Society has turned a blind eye to millions of chickens that are being inhumanely raised and slaughtered, silently or distantly, behind closed doors, invisible to us. Chicken hens are constantly laying eggs, and it literally kills them, first from ovarian and reproductive cancers, then once they stop laying eggs, they’re slaughtered for meat.”
Clouse talked about how science has genetically manipulated chickens’ genes to lay as many eggs as possible in as short a period as possible. She says it’s like “painfully giving birth everyday,” which is not normal for chickens. Most chickens in a natural setting and conditions would lay about 150 eggs per year or less, but factory farm chickens are manipulated and forced to lay about 365 eggs per year and Clouse says, “this chronic egg laying gives them cancer, their reproductive system explodes or rots, and hens painfully suffer and die from acute or chronic disease and infection that their exhaustive egg-laying causes.”
She emphasized the importance of transitioning to a plant-based diet to save these birds from suffering, both on factory farms and as backyard chickens.
Conference: 2014 Conscious Eating Conference
Conference Host: Speaker, Mary Britton Clouse
Date: April 6, 2014, Berkeley, California
Place: David Brower Center, Berkeley