A while ago, I did something not very nice. Shocker, I know.
I was visiting my mom, and our cousin took us to dinner at his new Italian restaurant. He had invited another couple, to return a dinner invitation. Or rather, he asked the guy, who brought along his latest squeeze. The restaurant was so crowded that we had to sit in the bar, wait times for food were averaging about 45 minutes, and the waitstaff had that frenzied, “Oh my God” look in their eyes. The squeeze couldn’t just order off the menu–oh no, she had to ask for veal piccata, only made with chicken. “I hate animal cruelty,” she explained. “It makes me just sick to think about those poor little calves not being able to move.”
She was driving me a little bonkers anyway, so I went for it. “The chickens can’t move either,” I said, conversationally.
“What do you mean?” she asked, blinking her mascara at me.
“They stuff chickens in boxes so small they can’t move and breed them with breasts so big they couldn’t walk anyway even if they had room. Oh, and they shave off their beaks, too. So really, eating veal is just as humane.”
I know, I know. Not very nice. She was obnoxious, and it was STILL not very nice. But this is the kind of selective thinking that drives me crazy. I am the first to admit that my own meatball dish probably came from factory cows, and they’re not treated that much better–at least in the finishing stages. As a country, we spend five billion dollars a year on our pets, yet the way we treat ALL animals destined for our plates is appalling. It takes a lot of work–and a lot of money–to find sources or truly organic and truly free-range meat. And it’s true that we all make compromises of one sort or another in our quests. But to choose factory chickens over veal for reasons of animal cruelty is just, well, it’s just stupid.
And then, you encounter an example of senseless cruelty. Meet Stubbs, the toeless chicken. Someone just lopped them off. She’s a nice little chicken, and Carrie–who gave her to me–assures me that she lays an egg a day. (I haven’t found her nest yet–it’s time for a Stubbs stakeout.) And while she gets around just fine and her toelessness doesn’t seem to bother HER, I confess that it bothers ME.
Can you blame me?