Did you know that chickens are more cognitively advanced than small children (they comprehend cause-and-effect relationships and understand that objects still exist after they’re hidden from view), have excellent memories, worry about the future and even pass down cultural knowledge from generation to generation? It’s true!
These inquisitive, social birds have more than 30 different vocalizations just to distinguish between threats approaching by land or water, and a mother hen begins to teach these calls to her chicks before they even hatch. But chickens bred and killed for egg and meat production are packed into cramped, filthy cages that rob them of natural experiences.
This routine rampant abuse inspired Dr Anjuli Jain – associate professor of management studies at Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology in Bhopal, India, and author of the anthology Spontaneous Outpourings – to pen a poem about chickens’ plight:
Cocks in a Cage
Once I saw
Many cocks huddled in a cage,
Some stood silent, some in a rage,
One by one, they completed their age.
A customer arrived,
The captor opened the gate hurriedly
Cocks rushed to the dead end fearfully
The captor pulled one out, and slained mercilessly.
As a spectator
It was a dreadful, a painful sight;
The pretty bird was torn apart forthright.
Oh! What a pathetic sight.
As and when the captor approached the gate
Their hearts palpitated at a faster rate
All of them were filled with fear
And rushed to save their lives so dear
So they closed their eyes and crowed a prayer
We know not
For what misdeeds of this or the previous birth
Are we punished today;
We know very well that we are mortal
And shall die one day,
But why do we meet death each moment face to face?
O God! Give us the strength to endure the fear,
Give us strength to welcome death, so near.
May no grain or worm allure us!
May no man or woman immure us!
May we lead a temptation free life,
May we lead a contented life!
One of them grieved;
Why are these men so cruel and mean?
The other cock did intervene;
What to talk of these wretched men,
They kill their own brethren;
We are but speechless petty creatures
Who grace their guests and make a sumptuous dinner.
The cock continued
I know I am just an indivisible, immortal soul
This day in the cock’s apparel
Tomorrow in some other parallel.
May I with full devotion and faith
Remember you always
In times fearless and fearful both
And let this fraction merge in the whole!”
So the next time your stomach starts growling, don’t put hate on your plate. There are endless irresistible vegan options in restaurants, on the street and in markets – which makes it easy to cook up your own vegan meals – that are packed full of flavour and nourishment, without harming any animals.