Go for Free-range Birds

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Like you and me, birds and animals have the right to a decent life for the while that they live on the face of earth. None of us hold the right to make their life miserable for the sake of meat or egg consumption.

Industrial livestock production has grown exponentially over the past years. Thousands of birds are kept in cramped spaces for the duration of their lives, many of whom reach the slaughterhouse too sick to even stand.

Watch the video in the link here for horrific scenes shot at sites. (Warning: Not for the faint-hearted). I was shocked too!

This doesn't necessarily have to be this way. Lets wake up and do our bit to goad the industry in the right direction.

"Cage-free" and "Free-range" are popular labels used to indicate that the hens are provided more space than the typical battery cages where egg laying hens are rared. Cage-free means that hens are able to walk, spread their wings and lay their eggs in nests, vital natural behaviors denied to hens confined in cages. Free range denotes a method of farming husbandry where the animals/birds, for at least part of the day, can roam freely outdoors, rather than being confined in an enclosure for 24 hours each day.

It is to be noted though, that in countries where the labels are popular, like the US, they are also widely misused by the industry. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), “no information on stocking density, the frequency or duration of how much outdoor access must be provided, nor the quality of the land accessible to the animals is defined” in the regulatory text and thus these are flexed to still maintain some of the old practices. This is especially true for those factory farms that rare tens of thousands of chickens. Hence the need for adequate regulation and supervision on the use of the labels by large farms.

By virtue of what it implies, the cage-free egg movement has quickly spread throughout the world and a growing number of food companies are adopting cage-free egg purchasing policies. In India however this is yet to gain as much strength as say 'organic'. 

In 2016, McDonalds committed to a plan to switch to cage-free eggs in US, Canada and South Africa, a transition that could cost them big money. The important thing to note though is that once McDonalds had made the commitment nearly 200 competitors said they will do the same. The last major fast-food chain to announce cage-free was KFC that had committed to a timeline of end-2016, which is much ahead of McDonalds' 2025 plan.

However for India (as also for the rest of the world), the announcements made in US mean that the large number of the popular McDonalds and KFC outlets continue to sell meat and eggs sourced from birds rared in battery cages, fed high doses of hormone, antibiotics and a diet that is largely uncontrolled.

The lack of awareness about cage-free practices has slowed down the demand for a change in India. We should definitely say No to unhealthy food served to public by restaurant chains. This food may scale high in the tastiness index, but it will certainly prove harmful in the long run. The stress undergone by the chickens translate to harmful chemicals that in turn enter our body system while ingesting the burgers and muffins from the popular and fast-moving outlets spread across the country.

Numerous researches done on broiler hens have established beyond doubt that hens rared in poultry farms suffer impact to their physiological functions at multiple levels, all caused by high concentrations of stress hormones in blood. See the link for one such article.

As the most popular restaurant chains in India that consume chicken meat, we petition the McDonalds and KFC to lead the way...... by declaring that all their products sold in India come only from  free-range,  hormone-free,  antibiotic-free, and  humanely raised birds.

This petition goes to Steve Easterbrook, CEO of McDonalds and his executive team, including Amit Jatia, Joint Venture Partner & Managing Director, McDonald’s India [West & South Region] and Smita Jatia, Chief Operating Officer, McDonald’s India [West & South]. So also it goes to Muktesh Pant, CEO of KFC, David C Novak, Chairman and CEO of Yum! brands (KFC is a subsidiary of Yum!), and Roger Eaton, COO of Yum! and President of KFC.

Please note. This is not about vegetarianism or non vegetarianism. This is about doing our bit to save a living being from extreme suffering. A suffering that is totally avoidable!

We the people petition the biggest corporate houses in the industry to take steps to discourage cages and thus contribute to a happier, healthier world.