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.

Dunayer vs. Davis on Speciesism

Joan Dunayer was not impressed by Karen Davis review of her book, Speciesism and posted a lengthy critique of Davis’ review to animal rights mailing list AR-NEWS.

Dunayer elaborates on her anti-welfarism views,

Similarly, the managing editor of the conservative National Review opposes nonhuman rights but approves of PETA’s asking KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) to implement less-cruel slaughter. “Why not ‘gas killing,’ as a gentler alternative to the other stuff?” he writes, calling such a change “just.” Killing innocent beings is far from just, wehther or not they’re gassed. These two men endorse “humane slaughter” campaigns because such campaigns aren’t rights-based. To the contrary, they’re based on violating nonhumans’ rihgt to life. Instead of seeking measures compatible with the attitude that it’s acceptable to kill nonhumans, advocates should consistently work to change that attitude. Without such change, slaughter will go on and on.

Dunayer also challenges Davis’ claim that, “There is absolutely no evidence to support Dunayer’s claim that working for ‘welfarist’ reforms retards liberation.” Dunayer vehemently disagrees,

This is false. In Speciesism I provide evidence such as the following:

1. Switzerland’s elimination of battery cages increased the Swiss egg industry’s profitability and its acceptability to consumers.

2. A 2000 Zogby poll indicated that most U.S. adults feel better about eating animal-derived food if they think the animals were treated “humanely.”

3. Vivisectors and other abusers continually point to “welfarist” laws such as the Animal Welfare Act and Humane Methods of Slaughter Act as evidence that nonhumans are treated “humanely.” These laws, which have failed to protect nonhumans from extreme suffering, give consumers false assurances.

4. As reported by the egg industry itself, “welfarist” campaigns against food-removal forced molting have resulted in the industry’s starting to switch to low-nutrition starvation that will be less offensive to consumers.

To a large extent, Dunayer is correct — the main successes the animal rights movement have had so far are simply animal welfarist improvements, and tend to reinforce animal use rather than lead to animal rights. On the other hand, Dunayer’s liberationist fantasies are also doomed, at least in the United States.


Corrections of Davis’s false and misleading statements in her Specieism review. Joan Dunayer, January 11, 2005.