Updated: Jun 20, 2020
If our chickens were humans they would be all over instagram skiting about how good their lives are and making all of the other chickens in the world jealous by rubbing their little beaked faces in it. Our chickens get to do all of the things that the vast majority of other chickens in NZ don't get to do - they get to exhibit all of their natural behaviours like nesting, foraging, ground scratching, perching, and dust bathing. They have space to perch. They can either roost for the night in their cozy coop or, on nice evenings, up in our apple tree. They get a selection of yummy scraps everyday as well as their pellets, honestly, #bestlifeever vibes. Our girls are going on 8 and we still get eggs, albeit not that many, but still, shows they've lived the good life.
They do carry with them a deep dark burden though, and had we really thought it through when we bought them as little chicks, we may have decided not to get them at all. It's one thing that they do share with the vast majority of other chickens in NZ - and it's to do with all of their brothers....their long, lost brothers. It's a fact that half of all new chicks born across the country are macerated on their first day of life because they're boys and can't lay eggs and they're not suitable for meat farming - this is done without pain killers. Let's take a moment to just consider that for a moment. Imagine if we did this to puppies or kittens or kiwis. If that's not reason enough to give up chicken FOREVER I don't know what is. OK, I'm sounding all preachy - let's move on.
So, we bought our chickens before we moved to a plant based diet because we wanted to eat free-range eggs, guaranteed, happy free range, not just 'what it says on a packet' free range - which brings us to why we are moving to only offer a plant based menu at our cafe, and the first non-plant based item to be removed from our menu is chicken.
Tuesday 23 June is the first of our '2 for 1 Transition Tuesday' series that will see us phase out an existing non-plant based bagel recipe for a new and improved plant based option. That's it pictured below. And you get to try both - last chance to try the existing and first chance to buy the new and you get both for the price of one. This special offer is primarily aimed at people who wouldn't normally choose a plant based option so that they can do the taste test. If you want to take up this offer, you must preorder from Monday 22 and you can do this right here
So this upcoming Tuesday our focus is on chicken and let's take a closer look at why it's important for us, as conscious consumers to be more aware of what goes in to our mouths.
Last year Consumer NZ ran a survey focussed on the state of FREE RANGE CHICKENS in NZ. I'd always thought that free range should mean the birds spent most of their days roaming outside in small flocks. However based on the Consumer survey, the loose definition of “free range” means the reality can be vastly different.
The majority of big brands on the market come from flocks of around 4000 to 8000 chickens - and that's just the egg layers. Free-range meat flocks in NZ can be closer to 40,000 in size with one operation housing 360,000 chooks across 10 sheds. Flock size is important because chickens like to stay around other chickens they know. Free Range in NZ means that chickens need access to an outdoor area but depending on their location within the shed they may not ever get outdoors because it's all just too daunting a journey to navigate.
One thing that really shocked me recently when doing my research was to find that we still have battery farms in NZ. On these farms the chickens literally live in a area no bigger than an A4 piece of paper with zero chance of ever being able to exhibit any natural behaviours and thus living a very sad and stressful life. Yes, they will be abolished by 2022 but that's a lot of unhappy chickens in the meantime.
So the life of a chicken farmed for either meat or eggs, free-range or not, really isn't ideal - and this is not overseas somewhere, this is here, in NZ. When it's finally time to meet their maker, even then they can't be guaranteed a respectful, clean exit out. On arrival at the slaughterhouse, NZ poultry are shackled and hung upside down from their little feet, which would also be extremely stressful and can cause injuries. The production line normally delivers the birds to a water bath electrical stunning system, which aims to render them unconscious prior to throat cutting and subsequent scalding, plucking and processing. However, these systems are known to fail in a significant number of cases resulting in levels of suffering that I don't even want to contemplate.
So if nothing else, maybe contemplate eating less chicken because if demand drops then perhaps at the very least those meat sheds won't be quite so full. But best of all, just give it up completely and eat some plants.
Now in the interests of ending on a high note, our Sunfed chicken alternative filling offers around 14% more protein per 100g than chicken and although the cost to produce our Rangituhi bagel will increase significantly based on the ingredient change, we are keeping the sale price this same because we want to reward our plant based eaters for making the choice.
And we are launching this coming Tuesday!!! Order online now for pick up on Tuesday!