In a bid to raise awareness on what our food undergoes before hitting our plates, some millennials have taken their advocacy to the road. Staff members from The Humane League and volunteers are traveling across the country to hold demonstrations near selected restaurants and pass around informative leaflets on the hardships endured by factory farm chickens. All of this is for the crusade they’ve called the “Tour Against Cruelty”, itself a part of the much-larger 88% Campaign.
In addition to awareness, the group aims to promote accountability among companies and poultry farms. They’ve set their sights on Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s in particular, two subsidiaries of CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. According to the official Tour Against Cruelty website, the chickens raised for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s “suffer some of the worst abuses.”
Farms affiliated with the company were stated to slaughter their chickens through inhumane methods, which include electrocuting, scalding, and slitting the chickens’ throats while still fully conscious. The group further asserted that the majority of these chickens spent their short lives surrounded by their own excrement and suffering from ammonia burns on various parts of their bodies. (Related: Factory animal farms produce meat through routine torture and environmental destruction)
Moreover, The Humane League stated that a number of the chickens raised for Carl’s Jr. are forced to undergo genetic manipulation to grow faster and larger than normal. As a result, many of these birds develop crippling leg disorders, heart failure, or respiratory problems.
“It’s time for Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. to make a change,” the group wrote on the website. “Sonic just adopted sweeping chicken welfare reforms — when will CKE do the same?”
Of those changes, The Humane League has proposed three: the first is to choose healthier chicken breeds to minimize the number of health concerns plaguing these birds. The second is to opt for “controlled atmosphere stunning” in order to paralyze the chickens and render them unconscious prior to slaughter. Third is to place these birds in clean, spacious environments filled with natural light and straw bales.
This move towards accountability and transparency should come as no surprise considering the attitudes of millennials when it comes to food. A recent report by market insights firm Maru/Matchbox has put forth the facts on these preferences, such as 61 percent of millennials expecting their food to be GMO-free. This is a much larger figure than the 49 percent of baby boomers who share the same sentiment.
Matt Kleinschmit, managing director of Integrated Consumer, Retail & Shopper at Maru/Matchbox, commented: “Millennials are discerning consumers, and they are increasingly willing to pay a premium for brands and products that embody their preferences for authenticity, transparency, and responsible ingredient sourcing. The impact of this emergent generation continues to grow as they advance in their careers and become more established, and their habits are dramatically reshaping the food industry.”
Hence the birth of movements like the 88% Campaign and the Tour Against Cruelty, both of which were created to better the lives of farm animals. In the United States alone, farm animals number in the billions; the overwhelming majority that are raised and killed for food are chickens. And in an age when cellphones are equipped with cameras and social media has achieved peak prevalence, simply sweeping these things under the rug isn’t going to cut it any longer.
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