Misery is Not a Health Food
Could it be, he asks, that when we consume the flesh and eggs of these birds, "something of the sickness, misery and terror of their lives enters us? Could it be that when we take their flesh or eggs into our bodies, we take in as well something of the kinds of lives they have been forced to endure? Instinctively, I can't help but believe this is so."
Understandably, one does not like to think that the dead bird one is about to consume embodies the suffering of the bird when she or he was alive. So far, all that society has required is that the events that produced the carcass or eggs be removed from consciousness. The possibility that the individual's suffering could somehow persist and be present in the muscles, "juices," and ova about to be ingested is frightful, but is it fanciful?
In 2004, a woman named Laura Alexander described her experience of entering a chicken slaughterhouse for the first time in Arkansas. Of the hanging cage at the entrance where the birds are ripped from the transport crates and hung upside down to begin their final journey through life, she wrote: "You know, I had prepared myself to feel disgusted, sad, and uncomfortable, but nothing could have prepared me for the way I felt. It was like this wave – this wall – of negative energy hitting me in the face when we opened that door. The only thing I can even try to compare it to would be that feeling you get in places like hospitals or jails, where there is suffering and death, dread and fear. Well, take that feeling and magnify it by at least 10 and you will have maybe an inkling of what I felt at the door of that room that day. I couldn't leave fast enough."