“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast; But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” – Proverbs 12:10
“To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.” – Chik-fil-a Corporate Mission Statement
So now that we’ve all taken the moral high ground and vowed that henceforth never again shall a crisp waffle fry or a tender chicken sandwich that hath been born of bigotry and hatred touch these lips because being gay is a-okay, I’d like to ask what I think is a perfectly reasonable question: Why were any of us still eating at Chik-fil-a to begin with?
It’s vital that we don’t endorse with our hard earned dolla-dolla bills things that we find morally repugnant, but Chik-fil-a qualified for that dubious honor long before its president claimed that by allowing Fabulous-Americans to lawfully wed each other we were “inviting God’s judgement on our nation”. Unfortunately the livestock crammed into the factory farms that supply the meat for Chik-fil-a don’t have powerful corporate lobbyists or political advocates, so for now I guess I’ll just have to do.
Before we go any further, let me explain why I’m at least marginally qualified to advocate for chickens. No, I’m not a vegan. I’m not even a vegetarian. What I am is someone who has spent a lot of time around livestock. Enough time to recognize in a real and powerful way that the animals that most of us depend on for food and that some of us depend on for profit aren’t any less capable of experiencing pain and fear than the dog that sleeps at the foot of your bed at night. I’m raising a small herd of cattle myself for beef in the spring and even though I know that they will eventually be slaughtered I honestly can’t fathom putting them in a feed lot where they would drink ditch water and eat animal waste. I aspire to be a good steward to everything that nature or fate or pure dumb luck has entrusted to me (just like it says in Chik-fil-a’s mission statement) and that means advocating for the health and well being of all animals, even the ones intended for work or slaughter.
So yeah, I like farm animals. I also think that the way person or company chooses to treat their farm animals is an excellent litmus test for whether or not that person or company is an asshat. So let’s look at how Chik-fil-a treats its farm animals, shall we?
Chik-fil-a chicken comes from Wayne Farms LLC, a factory farming subsidiary of ContiGroup. Because it’s a large factory farming operation Wayne Farms is profit driven with an intense focus on shareholder returns. Wayne Farms is also a vertically integrated agribusiness, which means that the company (with its obligation to its shareholders and not to the welfare of the animals in its care) has control of the the livestock not from the farm to the table, but from the gene to the fast food restaurant. When agribusinesses are as large and as powerful as Wayne Farms and ContiGroup, few checks and balances exist to protect the livestock from conditions inherent to factory farming. Brace yourselves. This is about to get gross.
Here are a list of common Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) practices and some handy-dandy pictures to help better illustrate how unpleasant factory farming really is.
- De-beaking and mutilation - So that livestock are better suited for being housed in small, tight spaces.
- REALLY tight living quarters – Packing as many animals in as little space as possible, maximizing the use of space and minimizing cost.
- Scalding and Shocking - Chickens are exempt from the Humane Slaughter Act and are not legally required to be rendered unconscious before slaughter, which is why at many factory farms chickens are shocked with electrified bathwater or scalded while still alive during the slaughter process.
So why does it matter that Chik-fil-a uses factory farmed chicken? Why should we find this practice disgusting and abhorrent? After all broiler chickens are bred for slaughter anyway, so why does it matter that they don’t live a cushy, pasture bird lifestyle? Think about it this way: Animals are like children. They don’t get to choose what life they’re born into and are helpless without grown up intervention. If you have power over helpless living creatures, you have a responsibility to advocate for their well being. That’s what stewardship is and that’s what the bible says, and if there’s one thing Chik-fil-a seems to take seriously it’s stuff the bible says. Except for the part about not being a dick to your animals. They must have missed that.