Karen Davis Reviews Book on Chicken Slaughter Houses

United Poultry Concerns’ Karen Davis recently posted her review of Steve Striffler’s, Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America’s Favorite Food to AR-NEWS. Striffler’s book is published by Yale University Press and is an account of time he spent working at a slaughterhouse to research his book.

Davis is unhappy that Striffler focuses so much on the plight of the workers in the chicken plant rather than the chickens. Typical of Davis view is this account of her exchange with Striffler,

In his preface, which Striffler defended to me as “not [intended] to educate readers about the technical details of killing a chicken” (so it’s okay to bungle the facts?), he writes: “I do not feel sorry for Javier [a worker in the plant] or the chickens. I have worked in a plant before, and stabbing chickens is a relatively easy job. Many workers would be glad to trade places. And the chickens are there to die.”

Granted, a job where you get to sit on a stool and stick, as it were, “sitting ducks” for eight hours beats most other jobs at the plant, where the majority of workers, a third of them women, are forced to stand on their feet for eight hours and perform ruinous physical labor. As for invoking the fact that the chickens are “there to die” to justify lack of pity for them, ask yourself if this logic works regarding, say, terminal cancer-ward or nursing-home patients — “I don’t feel sorry for these people; they are here to die.”

The comparison of chickens for slaughter to nursing home patients might be shocking if Davis hadn’t previously compared victims of the Holocaust to Nazis or infamously maintained that the 9/11 attack likely reduced the level of suffering in the world because most of those killed were likely meat eaters.


Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America’s Favorite Food, Review. Karen Davis, January 4, 2006.

UPC Unhappy With Carl Jr.’s Ad

I found it laugh out loud funny, but apparently United Poultry Concerns is less than impressed with a new Carl’s Jr. ad about chickens.

The ad, which can be viewed here for the moment, is a simple shot of a chicken against a white background. An off-camera announcer says, “Chicken, sit.” The chicken just goes on clucking. The announcer says, “Chicken, catch” and throws a ball that bounces over the chicken’s head. This goes on through a few more gags with the oblivious chicken continuing to cluck, followed by the line, “There’s only one thing a chicken’s good for — eating.”

UPC’s action alert urges activist to “Protest Carl’s Jr. Ad that Denigrates Chickens,”

Carl’s Jr. (owned by CKE Restaurants, which also owns Hardee’s) is currently running a TV and radio ad claiming that chickens are good for nothing but being eaten. Please blitz Carl’s and CKE Restaurants with letters and comments about the dignity, beauty, and abuse of chickens. Urge them to be kind of chickens and stop making up lies about them. Chickens are intelligent, feeling beings. Every mouthful of chicken is a mouthful of misery.


Protest Carl’s Jr. Ad that Denigrates Chickens. Press Release, United Poultry Concerns, August 3, 2005.

Karen Davis Publishes Book Defending Holocaust/Chicken Comparisons

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals received such negative feedback for its “Holocaust On Your Plate” campaign that it abandoned it and eradicated most of the traces of it from its various web sites. But United Poultry Concerns’ Karen Davis has decided the analogy can work for animal rights activists and has written a book on the topic, “The Holocaust & The Henmaid’s Tale: A Case for Comparing Atrocities.”

In a press release on the release of the book, United Poultry Concerns reprints the following summary of the book provided by its publisher, Lantern,

In a thoughtful and thought-provoking contribution to the study of animals and the Holocaust, Karen Davis makes the case that significant parallels can — and must — be drawn between the Holocaust and the institutionalized abuse of billions of animals in factory farms. Carefully setting forth the conditions that must be met when one instance of oppression is used metaphorically to illuminate another, Davis demonstrates the value of such comparisons in exploring the invisibility of the oppressed, historical and hidden suffering, the idea that some groups were “made” to server others through suffering and sacrificial death, and other concepts that reveal powerful connections between animal and human experience — as well as human traditions and tendencies of which we all should be aware.

The press release included quotes from Carol Adams and Charles Patterson. Patterson, whose book “Eternal Treblinka” was the inspiration for PETA’s “Holocaust On Your Plate” campaign, says of Davis’ book,

Compelling and convincing . . . Not to think about, protest against, and learn from these twin atrocities — one completed in the middle of the last century, the other continuing every day — is to condone and support the fascist mentality that produced them. I thank Ms. Davis for writing this bold, brave book.


United Poultry Concerns is proud to announce our new book. Press Release, United Poultry Concerns, August 2, 2005.

United Poultry Concerns Plans “International Respect for Chickens Day”

Make sure to mark it on your calendar — United Poultry Concerns has set May 4, 2005 as International Respect for Chickens Day.

In a press release announcing the day, UPC said,

Please do an ACTION for chickens on May 4. Show the world that chickens are people too! Ideas:

  • Write a letter/op-ed to the editor
  • Get on a radio talk show
  • Table at your local mall
  • Arrange a library display/video presentation
  • Have a Respect for Chickens Day celebration at your school
  • Leaflet at a busy street corner/ your local university
  • Have a We-Don’t-Eat-Our-Feathered-Friends Vegan Party!
  • Show Chicken Run!!!

Personally, I plan to respect a little fried chicken on the 4th, but that’s just me.


International Respect for Chickens Day. Press Release, United Poultry Concerns, March 18, 2005.

Karen Davis on Bird Brains

The Washington Post recently published a summary of new research on avian brains that suggests they are more complex than previously believed which, in part, has implications for how birds evolved. Specifically, the researchers found that avian brains are more mammalian than previously believed and call for changing the nomenclature that scientists use to describe the avian brain to reflect this finding.

This, of course, was an open invitation for United Poultry Concerns’ Karen Davis to chime in with her twist on the new findings about avian brains. In a letter published in the Washington Post on February 12, Davis wrote,

Rick Weiss’s Feb. 1 news story, “Bird Brains Get Some New Names, And New Respect,” was deeply gratifying to those of us who spend our days with birds. We have been waiting to see scientific language and understanding catch up with the reality of bird intelligence. I spend my days with domestic chickens and turkeys, birds that have long been denigrated as stupid, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Just watch a hen calculate how to speed to her perch at night to avoid a certain attentive rooster in the way, and you know that a smart chick is looking out for her own interests.

The day may come when to be called a “chicken” or a “turkey” will be rightly regarded as a salute to a person’s intelligence.

I think there’s some opening for common ground here between activists and opponents. I think we can all agree that the chickens and turkeys Davis spends her days with are at least as intelligent as she is. See, we really can all get along.

And I can’t leave this without pointing out that when UPC posted a copy of Davis’ letter to AR-NEWS, they also urged people wanting more information about this research to visit AvianBrain.Org. I promptly followed their suggestion, but was horrified to see what are clearly the results of animal research all over the site, including illustrated cross-sections of the avian brain.

What about the animals who died for just to satisfy the curiosity of these mad scientists? I thought research like this was done just to make researchers rich?


Letter to the editor. Karen Davis, Washington Post, February 12, 2005.

California Activist Groups Form State Association

A number of animal rights groups in California have banded into a new statewide coalition, the California Animal Association, to “represent the interest of animals at the [California] state capitol.”

A press release sent out by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights announcing the formation of the group said,

After more than a year of planning, CAA was formed to bring a stronger and more cohesive voice for animal protection to Sacramento. Many of the animal welfare and animal rights groups involved in CAA have individually or in small groups worked on legislation to strengthen animal protection laws or to defeat legislation that weakens protections for animals with California.

The members of the coalition include: American Anti-Vivisection Society, Animal Legislative Action Network, Animal Place, Animal Protection Institute, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, California Animal Defense and Anti-Vivisection League, California Lobby for Animal Welfare, Doctors for Kindness to Animals, Farm Sanctuary, In Defense of Animals, Last Chance for Animals, Orange County People for Animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, The Paw Project, United Animal Nations, United Poultry Concerns and Viva! USA.


Animals gain strong and unprecedented voice in Sacramento. Teri Barnato, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, Press Release, January 12, 2005.