Is it ever ethical to eat chicken?

Ethan Greenhart

Topics Politics

This is a bit of random text from Kyle to test the new global option to add a message at the top of every article. This bit is linked somewhere.

Dear Ethan,

I don’t mind telling you that I’m confused! Everyone is talking about the horror of cheap, battery-farmed chickens and calling on the British public to eat organic, free-range chickens instead. But surely it is unethical to eat any kind of chicken? Or am I out of step? Is it okay to eat a properly reared chicken from Waitrose? If so, please let me know – I haven’t had chicken in 17 years, and I’m rather peckish for one!

June Shay

Dear June,

Oh yes, that’s fine. Feel free to walk into your local Waitrose and pick up a beautifully basted chicken for your dinner tonight. While you’re out and about you might also like to buy a canister of oil from your local petrol station and douse its contents over a family of unsuspecting ancient oaks, kick a few dogs into the middle of the road so that they can get squished by a blinged-up, big-haired Chelsea mum motoring along in her 4×4 killing-machine, and book some cheap flights to Riga so that you and your family can leave a carbon skidmark in the sky (and a literal skidmark on that misfortunate city’s streets) as you enjoy a drink-fuelled, carbon-filled, vomit-stained lads’ and ladettes’ holiday from hell.

June, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?! Eat a chicken?!! What if I wrote you a letter saying: ‘Dear June. I don’t mind telling you that I’m confused! Everyone talks about how cute and wonderful children are, yet I have an insatiable, burning, stomach-rumbling desire to EAT one of yours. Any recipe recommendations? Toddler a l’Orange? Breadcrumbed baby legs with a side of potato salad and rocket leaves?’

Shocking, right? Well, I have news for you, June: chickens are people too. They have feelings and emotions and aspirations for their offspring that are somewhat higher than ending up on a drooling carnivore’s dinner plate, and later inside his guts, and even later inside the sewer system alongside the rest of the shit, discarded condoms and murdered funfair goldfish that humanity flushes away every day. Alongside eating Belgian chocolates (air miles), hunting whales (hate crime) and denying the reality of global warming (an odious offence on a par with Goebbels’ worst excesses, which, if it is not banned immediately and made into an indictable crime, will help push humanity towards a furious hellfire that will make the Holocaust look like the hokey-cokey), eating a chicken is one of the most unethical things you can do.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Channel 4 programme Hugh’s Chicken Run has done the nation a favour. I know, I know, he is a fully paid up meat-eater, who has even shockingly suggested that people should scoop up ‘roadkill’ (dead squirrels, badgers, birds and the like) and take it home to cook, as if those poor buggers hadn’t suffered enough at the hands of man-unkind. (I prefer to call the bulging-eyed beasts that blood-stain our highways ‘roadmurder’, and to bury them in extravagant ceremonies that praise Gaia and curse car-kind. Sheba think it’s bad for the kids to make them wear black and chant in the middle of a forest while surrounded by dead animals, especially since some silly social worker in Kent has got it into her head that me and the kids are involved in a wacky Satanist cult! But as I told Sheba: ‘These social workers are just WITCH-HUNTING environmentalists – we’re easily the most persecuted minority in the modern world, never allowed to write in newspapers or to appear on TV or even to stage glitzy funerals for tyre-crushed rats in open woodland…’ Who knows, Kent Social Services are probably in the pay of Exxon Mobil or Israel.)

Anyway, an animal-cooker and roadkill-scraper he may be, but Fearnley-Whittingstall has at least educated us about one important thing: anyone who buys cheap meat from big, evil supermarkets (no, not Waitrose or Sainsbury’s – the OTHER one) is a disgusting specimen of a human being who clearly thinks nothing of inflicting pain on animals to satisfy his lust for meat. He probably cannot even spell the word ‘ethical’.

Fearnley-Whittingstall’s work follows on neatly from the efforts of a close friend of mine, Rocco Montague-De Bounevialle-Wagner, who is also an organic farmer (a VEGETARIAN one) and who spends all of his free time protesting outside that OTHER supermarket with placards saying: ‘Free the zombies – close T**** now!’ As Montague-De Bounevialle-Wagner points out in his forthcoming book Chicken Holocaust: Why Cheap Meat is the Crime of the Century, ALL meat-eaters are bad, but cheap meat-eaters – those who buy two dead chickens for a fiver!!!!!!!!!!! – are the lowest of the low, beyond redemption and probably even beyond re-education, the modern-day equivalent of cannibalistic savages (well, their intellect is likely to be on a par with a chicken’s, if not lower, so why shouldn’t we call their chicken-gobbling ‘cannibalism’?). Montague-De Bounevialle-Wagner’s solution to tackle the epidemic of cheap meat-eating is as clear as it is principled and gallant: the government must increase its subsidies to small organic farmers like Montague-De Bounevialle-Wagner and Fearnley-Whittingstall by 1,000% and introduce strict trade laws that forbid supermarkets from selling broiler chickens, battery-produced eggs or factory-farmed milk. I’m sure you’ll agree, June, that such a dazzling shift in the nation’s food production methods would make Britain a healthier and spiritually-wealthier place.

So yes, even I, a Black Belt Vegan, who doesn’t eat anything that ever had a pulse, a face, a relationship to the sun that involved physical bending (a sure sign of sentience), or the ability to flower, can concede that there is ‘good meat’ and ‘bad meat’. We can leave the war on ‘good meat’ to one side for the time being; after all, those who enjoy free-range chicken with fresh Waitrose-bought baby potatoes and a nice red wine from southern France, whose transportation costs for the environment will have been offset by some tree-planting in Guyana, are generally reasonable and intelligent people who, when push comes to shove (and, believe me, it will), will side with Gaia against Industrial Terrorism and its unthinking footsoldiers.

However, those who eat ‘bad meat’ – cheap chickens, turkey twizzlers, chipolatas submerged in a tin of barbecue-flavoured baked beans (!!!!!!!!!!) – are far harder to reason with. If it isn’t bad enough that they tend to be under-educated in the first place, and then to have whatever education they did receive hounded out of them by the brain-frying monotony of a zombie job in T**** or on a car assembly line, on top of that their brain cells and cerebral nerve-ends are frazzled even further by the stodgy and poisonous grub they consume! They live in a vicious cycle: they eat cheap chicken because they’re a bit thick – and then the cheap chicken makes them a bit more thick.

We need to take action now – and as so many greens have said before me, the only kind of action we can rely on these days is GOVERNMENT ACTION. Or even better, POLICE ACTION. It seems clear to me that we must set up Food Monitoring Committees to assess what people store in their fridges and feed to their children. It is not enough to have Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – or even Rocco Montague-De Bounevialle-Wagner (good luck with your Channel 4 proposal ‘What Your Poo Says About YOU’, Rocco!) – on TV telling everyone to get a grip. That still leaves room for people to make choices, and they always, without fail, as predictable as lemmings on a cliff edge, make the wrong choices. No, we need to police what supermarkets sell, police what people buy, police what they eat, and if necessary police their poo – Gillian McKeith- and Rocco-style – to ensure that they aren’t LYING about their weekly eating habits. I, for one, will volunteer for the front line of the sewer system, magnifying glass in hand, if it means catching those meat-eaters red-handed, or perhaps red-bottomed, who have told the food-policing authorities a few pork pies (pun intended). Only then, June, might we wipe meat out of the human system and return some of humanity, at least, to its senses.

So if you must eat some ‘good chicken’, then please do it discreetly. Don’t let anyone see you – we don’t want to do anything to further encourage the KFC-scoffers and T****-zombies whose ‘bad meat’ habits are doing more than enough to endanger people like us and the planet already, June.

Ethan Greenhart is here to answer all your questions about ethical living in the twenty-first century. Email him at {encode=”” title=””}. Read his earlier columns here.

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Topics Politics


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