We know how to kill a man — but what is the best way to kill a chicken? Break its neck? A shot to the back of the head? A sharp knife to the throat? Electric shock? Gassing?
The New York Times ran a fantastical story detailing the new want of chicken processors to more “humanely” kill their chickens, so they can then advertise their “kinder” way of killing so people will be comfortable eating chicken and will then consume more chicken:
Anglia Autoflow, the company that is building the knock-out systems for the two processors, calls the process “controlled atmosphere stunning,” but Mr. Pitman said his company was considering the phrase “sedation stunning” for use on its packages. Also on the short-list: “humanely slaughtered,” “humanely processed” or “humanely handled.”
In a typical processing plant, birds are unloaded in what is known as the “live hang area.” Workers hang the chickens upside down from metal shackles connected to a mechanical rail that conveys them into the plant. They go first into a unit that uses a mild electric shock to make them unconscious, and then they are brought to the “kill machine,” where a blade cuts their throat and they bleed to death.
In the new system, birds will arrive at the processing plant in special containers that will go directly into a chamber to which carbon dioxide is slowly added, displacing some of the oxygen and making the birds unconscious. Only then will workers handle the birds and hang them on the shackles.
One of the slaughterhouses wants to advertise their new death machines on the actual chicken package as — “slow induction anesthesia” — and the ridiculousness of it all seeps into our marrow and out the chicken’s butchered throats.
Why is all this money being spent to more effectively kill chickens? A slaughterhouse is a slaughterhouse and, as the great Count Leo Tolstoy, a famous vegetarian, said many years ago, “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will always be war.”
Slaughterhouses should be outlawed. If you want to eat chicken tonight, raise one, slaughter it yourself, and feed your family. Make the death process a real part of your life. Don’t buy your fresh meat wrapped in plastic and pre-cut. Plucking the feathers off a carcass you killed will give you a whole new appreciation for the life you took to satisfy your hunger for flesh.