The difference between being “ethical” and being “unethical” is 46 days. I know this because while riding on the Northern Line in London, I saw this advert by Farmdrop that tells me so.
They tell me that supermarkets “grow chicken from a hatchling to shrink-wrapped meal in just 35 days, ” and that they, unlike those unethical supermarkets, “as an ethical grocer … only sell chicken given proper time to grow. 81 days in fact.” All it takes for us to be ethical humans is to wait 46 days before killing a chicken.
Should I be concerned that I am being unethical by not killing chickens in the first place and not using any animals for my pleasure and convenience, to the extent possible and practicable? Obviously, the answer is no. But this ad, would have us think otherwise – killing for no good reason is ethical… so long as you wait for 46 days.
The world believes that killing someone who wants to live is ethical. It is ethical despite that we have no good reason for killing that creature. We do not need to eat that chicken to live; we do not need to kill them in self-defence; we are not on a desert island and we have many other food choices. Our only reason for killing and using animals – including that chicken 46 days later – is that we like how they taste. The ad makes that reason very clear, “[t]astier because they live longer and happier lives.” How convenient for us!
We have convinced ourselves that killing animals is ethical, especially if we wait 46 days. Imagine if we added 46 days to the sentence of an innocent death row inmate and we then call their execution ethical because of those extra 46 days. Should the innocent prisoner be grateful? Should the chicken? How conveniently we assuage our conscience.
If I were writing a more in depth analysis of this advert, I might point out that supermarkets do not grow chickens and that, in fact, chickens do not moult their feathers, hurtle themselves on the execution block to then wrap themselves in shrink wrap. But, I am not doing that.
Also if I were writing a more in depth analysis, I might suggest that having extra space to roam for 46 days does not make one deserving of slaughter when there is no good reason for it. But, I am not doing that.
I might also point out that we are supporting the likes of Farmdrop every time we sign petitions demanding governments and companies merely treat animals better instead of being clear that the only fair ask is for people to go vegan. “Better treatment” enables and whitewashes this type of marketing, coddling consumers in thinking their food choices have no ethical repercussions, that they are good consumers because they waited an extra 46 days and gave the animal “proper time to grow” before killing them. I would strongly suggest that we simply advocate for veganism to make any real change. But, I am not doing that.
And I would also mention that chickens live for years – not just the “ethical” arbitrary age of 81 days – even ones rescued from so-called evil, unethical large factory farms that are no more evil than our grandparents’ farms where death came to all animals in the same way it now comes to them in large farms. But, I am not doing that.
What I am doing is thinking of those 46 days. That is all it takes for us to wash our hands of any responsibility, fairness or justice that we owe animals. 46 days. That is all a life is worth. How little for a life.
There is no reason for us not to go vegan. None. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the least we can do. Go vegan. Educate others. Start here and now.