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Now, more than ever before, modern society offers us a vast array of choices for the way in which we want to live our lives. We are living in an age where peoples appetites and outlooks are rapidly changing but for many there are huge questions surrounding veganism. For many the entire concept is extreme and the changes required way too drastic and absurd to even consider.

We often hear that vegans are pushy and behave ‘holier than thou’. That’s just not us, we are passionate and we think it’s a great way to live for lots of reasons but we never forget that we went on our own very personal journeys to feel how we feel today where we discovered things that we really had no idea about and found hard to believe were not highly publicised and common knowledge. We think that many people would feel compelled to do things differently if this information was mainstream.

Our aim now is to raise awareness around the reasons why people are starting to choose vegan lifestyles and we are just happy that you are interested and hope that we can answer some of the questions surrounding it all. We would be lying if we said that it wouldn’t be utterly wonderful if we could inspire you to make some vegan lifestyle choices because above anything else and however other vegan messages are relayed whether agreeable or not, the thing that we all care so deeply about is ending the suffering of innocent animals and we would hope that everyone would like to move away from that where possible.

Veganism is actually a really peaceful way of life with kindness at its core and that is why we wanted to create beautiful, special jewellery to celebrate and represent this beautiful lifestyle which is all about living in harmony with all life on earth and looking after ourselves and other beings that we share this earth with. We want to help shine a light on many issues that we didn’t want to face but were contributing to every day without really knowing or understanding what our choices were actually allowing and what the consequences were for us, for our fellow inhabitants and for the planet.

,Generation after generation has taught us the same ideas of ‘normal’ until we now live in a society where many of us have this massive disconnect, cognitive dissonance, and have been conditioned to value some things over others without question. This has resulted in devastating consequences. Predictions for a continuation of this way of life are bleak. Vegans want to help change the course, we want a healthy, thriving future for our children and all life on earth.

We personally feel utterly compelled to correct the damage that we have already done when we didn’t really understand or consider the consequences of our actions by dedicating the rest of our lives to helping build a new normal for our children. We reject all forms of animal exploitation and invest in products that send clear messages to companies about the demand for change. We want to help achieve a greater understanding, expose the truths, abolish the myths, re-write our pre-conditioned ‘reality’ and evoke a connection that sees the next generations of our incredibly intelligent human species connect with natural instincts of kindness and compassion for all sentient beings, so that together we can re-design our way of life, turn the tide on these evil practices and stop destroying our planet and ourselves.

Chickpiece began as an overwhelming urge to add to the conversation. We felt a kind of awakening when we went vegan, every day we feel better than ever both mentally and physically, we look at the world around us so differently and our aim was to put these positive vibes into our jewellery, for each piece to reflect the importance of an issue close to our hearts.

We truly believe that education and exposure to the facts are key and we support some incredible organisations through our business who are doing amazing work to get this information mainstream. We have also created this area – The Hive where we have written all about what we now know and why each Identity concept is so special to us. (See our data sources page for further reading and for the sources of all of the facts, figures and references throughout the Hive & this entire website).

We donate 10% of sales to the Surge Sanctuary to help support the incredible ongoing work that they are doing with their activism and education and their amazing new project creating a beautiful safe haven, wildlife and education centre where wonderful work is going on rescuing vulnerable animals from the agriculture industries.

We are also growing trees to offset our carbon footprint with Ecologi, an amazing innovative organisation who, with the help of donations like ours, are planting trees all around the world in areas of deforestation and in turn creating employment. Ecologi also supports many other projects around the world including here in the UK. Find out more about the amazing work that they are doing here.

We are proud public members of the Plant Based Health Professionals, watching in awe as they strive to transform the health care system, providing education and advocacy on whole food plant-based nutrition for prevention and treatment of chronic disease.

We also sponsor rescued animals and use seed paper to help the BumblebBees! We are so proud to have a platform to help spread the word (like pollen!) about the amazing work going on in all sorts of areas and hope that together we can fill the world with love and peace for everyone on earth.

Find out more in the Proudly Supporting area of our website. We are very committed to building on this part of our business as we grow.

The information, facts, figures and statements herein are collated from various sources including vegan charity Viva! Seaspiricy.org, Earthling Ed/Surge, Sir David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg, The Vegan Society and many other amazing people and organisations helping to get this information mainstream – thankyou.

Please visit our Data Sources page for a full list of sources, studies and data & further reading. Alternatively for amazing videos and talks, Ed Winters, aka Earthling Ed -Vegan Activist and partner of Surge has many informative videos on his you tube channel here: Earthling Ed – YouTube

Why Beach Buddy?

Our oceans and their inhabitants are bearing a huge amount of strain from human activity and it’s something that we feel deeply sad and concerned about and want to talk about. Beach Buddies consider the health of the oceans in their daily lives. 

We want to raise awareness through our Beach Buddy Identity and stop the terrible treatment of our beautiful marine life and oceans.

Current best available science & studies tell us that:

  • It’s estimated that one rubbish truck load of plastic litter enters the ocean every minute.
  • We can help in our day to day lives with the global response by avoiding single use plastics such as bottles, straws and bags and looking for more sustainable, reusable materials. However, the often talked about and highly publicised straw ban is a drop in ocean, literally – straws only account for about 0.03% of the problem. Ultimately the big (and rarely talked about) problem that we should all be concerned about is the ropes, lines & nets discarded by the fishing industry which accounts for 46% of plastic in our oceans. The amount of long line fishing lines discarded on a daily basis are enough to wrap around our planet 500 times a day. It is estimated that 1,000 sea turtles die every year because of plastic pollution alone. 
  • 250,000 sea turtles are killed every year by being injured or captured by the fishing industry.
  • 21.7 million tonnes of wild caught fish are not for people to eat; almost 75% of this is heavily processed and fed to ‘sustainable’ farmed fish for human consumption. Farmed fish reportedly has dye added to their ground up feed to make the salmon flesh appear pink rather than an unhealthy off-grey.
  • Apart from cholesterol, the fish that we eat nowadays are filled with microplastics and pollution from the ocean including mercury that is linked to all sorts of human illnesses including Alzheimer’s. The aquatic food chain is said to be the most concentrated source of industrial pollution, in fact Dr Greger MD of nutritionfacts.org when describing wild fish versus farmed fish states simply that “there is dirty fish and then there is dirtier fish”.
  • The Deep Water Horizon oil spill, considered to be the worst oil spill in history causing mass outrage, took three whole months to do as much damage to the ocean and marine life as one days fishing does where it happened in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, much marine life actually recovered somewhat as it got a respite from the constant fishing!
  • Marine plants and coral reefs absorb 20x more carbon per acre than the rain forests – 93% of the worlds co2 is stored in the ocean. Coral reefs feed on fish excrement, but it is estimated that if we continue to fish and trawl the sea beds at the rate that we are now, the oceans will be emptied of fish by 2048. A good indicator of this decline in population can be seen by looking at Halibut… in the 1830’s 1-2 tons a day was a reasonable catch in the north sea whereas nowadays about 1-2 tons a YEAR can be expected at best. Up to 5 million fish are killed every minute, that’s 2.7 trillion a year. New studies are showing that fish also contribute to reduction in global warming by their churning the oceans with their constant movement and cooling the earth down from the heat absorbed from the sun.
  • Trawlers wipe out the equivalent of 4,316  football fields a minute of the sea bed including sea plants, coral and anything that stands in these giant nets way. For perspective, the Amazon rainforests are wiped out at a rate of 27 football pitches per minute. Trawling adds more than 1 billion tons of co2 to the atmosphere each year by churning up sediment – that’s more than the global aviation industry.
  • Less than 1% of our oceans are regulated and even then the regulations are very flimsy and difficult to enforce.
  • ‘Sustainable Industrial Fishing’ can never really be defined or proven even where certification is claimed. At best, to make such claims there may be an effort to cause ‘less’ damage or loss but no damage at all is impossible in such an industry. Therefore the consumer will never be able to eat truly sustainable commercially farmed fish.
  • Governments subsidises the fishing industry to help them stay afloat. In America this is to the sound of 35 billion dollars. An investment of 30 billion dollars could combat world hunger.
  • 50% of the world’s seafood comes from fish farms where hundreds of fish swim around in circles in their own excrement and even eating each other alive. They are often riddled with disease.  In Scotland, the organic waste from the salmon farms is equivalent to that generated by their entire human population.
  • Shrimp farming causes deforestation of mangroves. Mangroves are important storm barriers. Due to shrimp farming, so far, 38% of the world’s mangroves have been destroyed.
  • There are major humanitarian issues in the fishing industry including slavery and hunger. Young men risk their lives by venturing into dangerous waters due to commercial vessels taking all of the seafood and some are working on board these ships, captive in horrendous conditions, being abused and even killed.
  • The Omega 3 in fish oil comes from algae, not fish.
  • Fish are sentient beings, they have feelings, form relationships and want to live (more on this below)

We want to help cleanse our seas and stop the terrible treatment of our beautiful marine life. From agriculture bi-product pollution to plastic being ingested by innocent sea creatures, from relentlessly raiding the oceans for our desire to eat seafood to hunting seals for fur, things need to change, and fast.


Fish Sentience

1-2.7 trillion marine animals a year are killed for human consumption (we kill around 60 billion land animals a year for context). Fish and shellfish have a nervous systems and a brain and are much like birds in their sentience. Fish feel pain and display this in their actions, but don’t make any audible noises to demonstrate the pain… this is perhaps a reason why it is always so up for debate. Fish suffer in silence. Even bivalves like cockles & mussels demonstrate self preservation responses.

Fish learn to avoid unpleasant experiences. Changes in cortisone levels observed in fish in different situations tell us that fish feel fear and stress – in fact fish are very intelligent and research shows that fish can be taught how to evade a trap and remember maps, recognise friends and form social hierarchies. Fish work together with different species of fish and remember who was cooperative and who wasn’t. Fish are in fact highly intelligent and think, feel and have a range of emotions. 

Fish are caught in many ways. They are left on lines, injured and struggling to free themselves for hours, suffer organ failure on the ascent to the fishing boat and left to suffocate or are crushed under the weight of the catch. Many fish are gutted whilst still alive – it can take up to 55 minutes to four hours for various fish to die during asphyxiation and some fish will remain conscious for 20-40 minutes after they have been gutted.

Prawns and crustaceans routinely have their eyes cut out, the practice, called ‘eyestalk ablation’ happens to female shrimps (or prawns) in almost every marine shrimp maturation or reproduction facility in the world, both research and commercial. The aim of ablation under these circumstances is to stimulate the female shrimp to develop mature ovaries and spawn. Most captive conditions for shrimp cause inhibitions in females that prevent them from developing mature ovaries. The eyes are sliced open and squeezed out, or cut off with a heated blade — usually without any pain relief.

Crabs have their shells ripped off and are gutted whilst still alive, being strapped down by their pincers on mass conveyor belts and sent into a mechanical processor.

Aqua farming involves fish spending their entire lives swimming small circles in cages or concrete tanks. Due to overcrowding, the fish are often diseased and suffer fin damage or spinal deformity as well as parasitic infections. Antibiotic use is rampant in fish farms. Fish that are deemed too sick are often beaten to death.

Farmed fish are slaughtered by a range of methods. Some are beaten, some gassed whilst others electrocuted. Some have their gills cut off whilst still alive. Some are simply left to suffocate, at times on ice where they will struggle relentlessly to get the ice out of their gills before they inevitably die. Fish are often processed whilst alive, some may even appear dead but they are simply paralysed from the cold and will still feel pain, stress and fear. In some parts of the world it is a delicacy to eat fish and octopi alive and you will find partially gutted fish, with visible beating hearts on a fish counter.

Lobsters will clearly struggle to avoid being lowered into pans of boiling water and desperately attempt to climb the sides if they are unlucky enough not to die instantly.

Some fish are carnivorous and are fed wild fish so contrary to any sustainability claims, farmed fish are still contributing to the climate crisis.


Why Earth Child?

In 1895, Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish scientist, presented a paper shortly after climate record keeping began in 1880, demonstrating how solar radiation hits the earth’s surface and then bounces back towards the atmosphere as heat. Gasses in the atmosphere trap this heat, preventing it from escaping into the void of space and that specifically carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, could trap heat close to the earth’s surface and that small changes in the amount of these gases could affect how much is trapped. 

The big message was that the globe was heating up due to human activity. 

The earth’s land and oceans are warmer now than ever recorded and the temperature is still rising. This is what we refer to as global warming and more recently, the climate crisis. 

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data shows that between 1880 and 1980 global average temperature was 0.07 degrees celsius higher per decade on average but since 1981 this number has sped up to 0.18 degrees celsius higher per decade and has led to an overall 2 degrees celsius increase  in global average temperature today, compared to the pre industrial era.

2019 was the second hottest year on record with a global average temperature 0.95 degrees celsius higher than the 20th century average.

Since the industrial revolution, when massive technological advances were made, the scale of what humans could achieve multiplied rapidly and with that came the rise of greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide & methane – which is much more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The Paris Agreement was entered into force in 2015. This is a legally binding international treaty on climate change entered into by many world leaders. The goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably 1.5 degree celsius, compared to pre industrial levels. This needs to happen as soon as possible to avoid reaching a tipping point when the worlds climate would be forever changed resulting in devastating consequences for all of us and especially for developing countries. The overall aim of the agreement is to achieve a climate neutral world by 2050 – that is a world where we can offset all of the carbon that we emit.    

Global warming is becoming increasingly apparent, from soot covered melting glaciers flooding coast lines & reducing drinking water, huge ocean storms and frequent forest wild fires around the world caused by dried out forests, late autumns, and ferocious winds, there is already loss of life and devastation being caused by climate change.

As  you can see, it is not just the gasses being emitted that are an issue now. Climate change is becoming a self perpetuating cycle, causing the loss of the rain forests and marine plants, often referred to as the earth’s lungs that work to counteract warming by absorbing gas emissions and emitting oxygen. The loss of  biodiversity and ecosystems is alarming and we are now in the sixth mass extinction – the last mass extinction was when the dinosaurs were wiped out. Unlike previous mass extinctions,  the sixth mass extinction has been caused by human activity and we are about to lose over five hundred species of land animals over the next twenty years. David Attenborough said in a recent documentary that humans have now taken themselves out of the ‘circle of life’ and are now dominating the entire planet, it’s inhabitants and it’s future. The vast majority of the earth’s animals are now livestock in captivity, bred for consumption, clothing, testing etc with just four percent being wild animals.

The main ways in which we produce green house gasses are:

  1. Burning Fossil fuels 

Carbon dioxide – Oil, gas, coal that has been locked away in the earth for thousands of years is extracted and burnt for energy used in all manner of ways, from powering cars to heating our homes.

2) Animal Agriculture

Methane – Livestock produce methane which is 25-30 x more powerful than carbon dioxide. Not only this –  raising animals for meat uses huge amounts of soy and massive amounts of water, to produce a comparatively small amount of food as a result. The number one reason for deforestation & potent fertilizer use is to keep livestock and grow soy to feed livestock (not vegans… humans only eat about 2% of all soy produced and if soy production was diverted from feeding cattle to humans we could solve world hunger!)

3) Cement 

Carbon dioxide – the environmental footprint of the production of cement contributes 2% of our entire climate emissions

What can we do?

We are the change. The Climate Crisis is a very real, and very serious issue. Our collective home is in the process of being turned upside down. We need to put the brakes on fast as at present the transition is far slower than the time we have left. If we each, individually take responsibility, take a minute to re-evaluate the way in which we live, how we spend our money, what we prioritise, make small (or big!) changes where we can and act with positive intention to love and protect our home, we will collectively change our course.

Here at Chickpiece we use 100% recyclable packaging and send wildflower producing seed paper with every product. We use recycled silver wherever we can, we are planting trees to offset our carbon footprint with the help of Ecologi, an amazing innovative organisation who, with the help of donations like ours, are planting trees all around the world in areas of deforestation and in turn creating employment. Ecologi also supports many other projects around the world including here in the UK. Find out more about the amazing work that they are doing here.

Find out how many trees have been planted on behalf of Chickpiece here.

Did you know…

It’s now common knowledge that one of the best tools to tackle the climate crisis and keep our temperatures from rising above 1.5C is to plant trees. They are also crucial to preventing ecological collapse.

The single most effective way to reduce your personal carbon emissions is to stop eating meat. Even limiting your meat consumption can make a huge difference. Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are a far bigger problem than fossil fuels. Animal agriculture is also the number one culprit for consumption of fresh water in the world and cause of deforestation.

Unplug your devices – Did you know that your devices are ‘sucking up’ energy by being plugged in, even if they are done charging. A quick and simple solution to lowering your carbon footprint overnight!

Our favourite eco friendly swaps & sustainable living tips

Deodorant – We have switched to a monthly subscription deodorant that is a gorgeous smelling cream (not aerosol!!) made from plant based, natural ingredients. The metal lid and glass jar are sustainable & the elimination of chemicals, and very importantly, aluminium, means that this is one less threat to our health! Subscriptions are also great as this cuts out unnecessary journey from manufacturer to supermarket and one less trip in the car for us too!


Dishwasher, Washing Machine & Cleaning Products – Switching has meant a massive reduction in plastic bottles, wrappers and bags in our house and we have got some brilliant, flexible subscriptions that mean we get periodic deliveries of beautiful smelling, non toxic, vegan & eco friendly pods for our washing and cleaning tablets that dissolve in our re-useable glass bottles for every job from windows to sinks. Why not cut out some dishwasher loads and use your dishwasher racks as extra drying space!


Toothpaste & Toothbrushes – We use Bamboo toothbrushes and tooth picks, we have found these online for quite a lot of money but also picked them up in bargain stores for a couple of pounds, sadly no one seems to have come up with a solution for the plastic bristles but we are keeping an ear to the ground. There are many toothpaste options around on the internet right now including tablets that dissolve in your mouth produced in glass jars rather than plastic tubes. We buy a vegan toothpaste in the supermarket in a biodegradable tube, not so cheap but we want to demonstrate a demand for this change.


Self Care – We use vegan makeup (in eco friendly packaging wherever possible), re-useable cotton face wipes and avoid buying products in plastic bottles and instead use vegan, natural ingredient soap bars from top to bottom. Talking of bottoms, we use recycled toilet paper too!


Travel – A big change and not always possible for all but we have gotten rid of our second car and it has forced us to be much more selective with car journeys. Admittedly, we are in a lock down and not travelling anything like as much but we really want to keep this up and intend to walk, car share or use public transport for any clashing journeys in future. We cant wait until we are able to purchase an electric car!

Shopping – We avoid plastic packaging when shopping and can’t wait until we can fill up our own jars and tubs at major supermarkets! We obviously use our own bags and try to do one trip a week or get a delivery when there is already a driver in our area. When it comes to clothes, we are more than happy in a charity shop or online second hand sites, it’s about how you where it, not where it came from! We are proud to be shopping in the most sustainable way and avoid adding to the landfills of ‘throw away fashion’, when we do buy anything new, we buy quality products that will last. We recycle our clothes or give them back to the charities to re-sell.

As a company, we are very mindful of our carbon footprint. Find out more on our FAQ page.

The information stated herein is not opinion but facts based on the best available science (May 2021) Sources for reference: Ecologi/Greta Thunberg No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference Facts and figures gathered by chickpiece from metoffice.gov.uk

*At the present time, Chickpiece ™ are in no way using proceeds of sales to directly support any Charity or Organisation mentioned herein. Chickpiece ™ is not a fundraising company. Donations made are discretionary and are made solely from the Chickpiece Director and would take place outside of the business. Any changes to this position will be made clear and at such time accounts and contracts will be available upon request.

Why Faithful Friend?

It is claimed by many that the UK has some of the highest welfare standards in the world but the sad reality is that around 85% of the UK’s farmed animals live in factory farms, that’s more than 80 million animals at any one time (not even including fish farms) living in intensive, unnatural conditions that are a million miles from the false reality that we shown on tv.

For most people on earth, many animals are seen as a commodity. They are bred into this world for the sole purpose of serving humans and making money by feeding the public’s demands. This demand is now so huge that to keep up, farming has become more and more industrialised because the more animals that can be ‘processed’ in the shortest period of time and on the least amount of land, the cheaper the products become. Of course the well being standards for these animals are minimal due to the vast numbers and worse still, it has been repeatedly documented that overworked farm employees have often taken out their frustrations on these helpless, intelligent individuals that have been born into a life of slavery, torture and death at a very young age.

We love animals, and before we were vegan we thought we loved animals then too but veganism is a way of life that cares for all animals equally and questions why we selectively take in a chosen few as beloved pets, eat some and wear others. Before we were vegan we had a sort of ‘off switch’ a limit on how far our compassion would extend, valuing the lives of cats and dogs but disregarding that of cows and pigs, we had somehow justified this to ourselves even though deep down we knew it was horrible it was just what we did as a society.

The reality of farming animals is becoming increasingly understood and there are so many amazing alternatives on the market and fantastic cook books that it’s easier than ever before to transition to a different way of life. We want to use our platform to help raise awareness about the practices that consumers are indirectly paying for when buying animal derived products because humans ARE animal lovers but it has been made completely normal to turn a blind eye to heart breaking animal abuse because education, media and society tells us that this is totally fine.

These industries are gigantic money making firms as much as any other, in fact many industries, including the pharmaceutical industries and even the government support each other, benefitting financially from humans continuing demands for animal products. The climate crisis appears to be causing better publicity around veganism as this is presenting massive threat to our entire existence and people at the top have no alternative but to listen (see earth child hive page for all things climate change), however, the impact on the climate is only one aspect of veganism.

We now realise that we had a huge disconnect in our minds between the end products and the reality of how they came to be. We really were shocked and deeply disturbed that the marketing around these animal derived products is so misleading and the reality is a far cry from the images that we had of cows grazing in rolling hills and happy chickens in meadows. The Environment Agency licenses almost 2,000 intensive poultry and pig farms, almost 800 ‘Mega Farms’ housing more than a million chickens, 20,000 pigs or 2000 dairy cows. This number is climbing and even more so in recent years. 

We began to realise that there is no ethical way to take an egg from a hen or a life from a sentient, living being (even backyard hens and ‘local’ meat). The only way to stop contributing to these barbaric, violent industries and protect these innocent animals was to reject the idea that animals are a commodity entirely and respect them for the fellow inhabitants of this planet that they are. It is for that reason that we have learnt to cook with lentils, tofu, seitan, are thriving on vegetables and don’t mind if a faux meat, cheese or milk product doesn’t taste quite the same. We are thankful for all of them and we feel great on so many levels and the more people that are demanding these products, the more investment and the better it will be, for everyone.

Years and years of human evolution has led to us being the most intelligent species on earth, however, we have chosen to use our power in unimaginable ways to satisfy our ever increasing desire to eat and use animals for our own pleasure. 

Humans have come a long way from living in the wild, foraging for food to survive. We have evolved to live in a civilised society, we go to supermarkets and choose our food and we now know that we have no biological need to eat meat to survive and for most people, our actual instincts are that of herbivores – put a child in front of a rabbit and a strawberry, see which one it eats and which one it cuddles. 

Despite what we use to say (and believed), we have come to realise that we really are not ‘at the top of the food chain’, ‘in the circle of life’. We are not part of natures food system, chasing down our prey and in fact there is much debate over whether or not we were ever natural carnivores due to our intestinal make up, our tiny ‘fangs’ and clawless hands, we cant eat uncooked meat without getting sick and are much like herbivores in our biology. Sure our intelligence evolved and we learnt to make tools and fire so that we could kill animals to survive but what we do with that intelligence and power in this day and age must be questioned. Our intelligence and power has led to product lines, ‘processing’ billions of mild natured animals by the second, innocent beings that we have chosen to enslave, they don’t stand a chance at life, humans ‘play god’, systematically breeding, mutilating and slaughtering billions and billions of animals for our own desires. The ironic thing is that this in turn is killing us (see our Happy Herbivore Hive area all about plant based nutrition) and our planet (refer to our Earth Child Hive) we are destroying biodiversity and a continuation of this way of life could wipe humans out as we kill our planet.

We have thought long and hard about whether to detail the reality of the practices carried out globally in animal related industries as we were not sure if it would be desirable or appropriate on our website and possibly ‘turn off’ our customers. However, this is what we are about and sales, though we are hugely grateful for each and every single one, are secondary to the messages that we want heard. This is difficult to read, and we are so sorry for that, but we think that everyone deserves to understand the reality of what they are paying for and these beautiful, desperately sad, confused and scared animals certainly deserve to have their stories heard.

Of course, animal agriculture is only one industry contributing to the suffering and exploitation of animals. There are many more practices ingrained in our society that we feel we need to lay bare here – including animal testing, hunting, zoos, breeding of domesticated animals as pets, sports and leisure and working animals. We will continue to add more content to The Hive exploring these subjects.

The information, facts, figures and statements herein are collated from various sources including vegan charity Viva! & Earthling Ed/Surge – thankyou. Please visit our data reference page for a full list of sources, studies and data. Alternatively for amazing videos and talks, Ed Winters, aka Earthling Ed -Vegan Activist and partner of Surge has many informative videos on his you tube channel here: Earthling Ed – YouTube

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION MAY BE UPSETTING TO MANY.

Cows are like big cats and dogs and if you were to spend time with them in the same way, it soon becomes apparent that as with our beloved pets, cows too have their own individual personalities and character traits! Some are very quick learners, some shy, some bold and bossy & some playful and silly! Research has even shown cows hold grudges! They are complex, intelligent creatures with a long memory and a lust for life. Cows have a huge maternal instinct and will develop a loving bond with young. They mourn deaths of friends, they have even been said to shed tears when being separated from loved ones. In the wild cows form a hierarchy’s and choose suitable leaders. They can recognise 50 or more members of their herd!

Cows have demonstrated advanced cognitive abilities learning how to operate buttons and levers with their heads to release water or grain. Research suggests that cows enjoy these intellectual challenges and even get excited like Humans do once they have figured something out!

There are approximately 4 million beef cattle in the UK at any given time and 2 million are typically killed for beef every year.

About half of the cattle killed for beef and veal originate from the dairy industry.  Most cows are killed under the age of 2 even though they would live for 20 years or more otherwise.

The beef industry has various systems, one such system is that of ‘Suckler Herds’ where cows (referred to in the industry as simply ‘beef cows’) or ex dairy cows (‘beef dairy’) are kept to produce and rear calves. Most Suckler cows are cross bred and all have been selectively bred through time to be unrecognisable to their original ancestors, in fact the cows that humans breed are considered a different species entirely as they have been so genetically modified to produce bigger and better quantities of meat.  An extreme and possibly the most horrific case of selective breeding is the Belgium Blue, an example of the atrocities that humans inflict through artificial breeding. These poor animals have such a high muscle to bone ratio that they suffer poor skeletal development and almost always require a C-section to give birth. 

Suckler herds are kept in a wide range of grazing habitats.  Due to high demand, even this type of grazed farming is dying out and now counts for less that 50 percent of UK beef we eat (30% in Europe where we get 15% of the beef we eat here in the UK).

Most of the cows we eat in this country come from intensive factory farming. Even the least intensive forms of farming cause immense suffering though in one way or another. 

Cattle farmers impregnate beef cows either by using a bull in the age old way or by artificial insemination which is increasingly more popular due to lower costs involved. This process requires cows being forced into tight spaces whilst a farmer impregnates them by putting an entire arm into the cows anus where the farmer will manipulate her reproductive organs while an ‘AI Gun’ is inserted into her vagina to deposit sperm. Naturally this procedure can cause severe pain, nerve damage and distress especially if done incorrectly (inexperienced farmers practice on live animals so this does happen).

Calves are weaned much earlier than they should be, causing nutritional, social and psychological issues, female calves would stay with their mothers for the rest of their lives without human interference. This happens in a range of ways, either a fence between them, nose flaps that prevent suckling or removal of calves entirely. Once the calf is weaned and on a solid diet it will be returned to the herd only to be removed again to be taken to ‘fattening units’ (over crowded sheds often rife with disease and soiled straw) all of which is deeply upsetting to calf and mother.

When we see cattle in fields, it gives an idyllic, wholesome view of the great british countryside but the reality is that these cows are still in a money making system, often left out, rain or shine and even in the snow without shelter, in the hotter months the burning sun, exposes them to heat stress which causes a range of problems and suffering and even mild winters can cause them significant problems let alone snow and freezing temperatures. Fields become wet, muddy and full of manure and disease. These animals are not free to roam, they are kept in selected fields and confined, at their farmers mercy, despite the freedom it appears that they have. 

Another cattle system is ‘Bobby Calves’ considered low value meat from the dairy industry. Many of these baby cows have been ripped from their mothers (who’s milk will be processed for humans) and although are spared being shot in the head shortly after birth  (the fate that almost 100,000 meet) their suffering is prolonged as they are transported on tightly crammed container ships across the world, scared and stressed to be killed abroad instead. 

Calves destined for British slaughter also suffer immensely, being trapped in trucks, carted around markets until they are sold, sometimes being transported across the length of the country without appropriate water or food and no mother cows to comfort them.  They are exhausted and confused and with this stress and a lack of their mothers milk they are exposed to several infectious organisms, the stress, fear dehydration and trauma means that there is a high rate of mortality.

Calves should be suckling on their mother for up to a year which comforts them,  builds up their immune system and helps them learn crucial development skills but farmers wean them on liquid milk and dry food for maximum weight gain and profit. The same fate awaits dairy mothers once their milk yields decline, these cows have had such a hard life being relentlessly pregnant whilst lactating for human milk production for up to four cycles, although still young, their flesh is often considered low quality and used for cheap burgers. 

Another use for calves is veal. White Veal comes from calves fed on a liquid diet with a restricted amount of iron. Calves used to be kept in individual tiny crates (and still are up until 8 weeks old) but to allow it for any longer was abolished in 2007, however, their dark, barren living space is still minimal with very little opportunity to exercise and hay bedding is not a legal requirement so they sleep on slatted hard floors designed so that their faeces falls in between the slats, the slats are very difficult for cows to walk on, especially little ones. Iron deficiencies and living conditions mean that these little baby cows are often very weak and sick throughout their short lives. Due to these conditions being exposed, public demand for white veal declined, however, there is now an attempt to create ‘Rose Veal’ in much the same conditions from ‘disposable’ dairy bobby calves to ramp up consumer appetite once again. This indoor farming system is classed as ‘Intensive farming’ and other low value meat breeds are also kept in these systems.

Semi Intensive farming means that cattle live out on grass for one or two summers and are ‘finished’ indoors at just under the age of two. Either way, the aim is to finish calves quickly to maximise profit which means that they gain weight at a higher rate than natural and are killed as early as possible. The US is famous for its zero grass feedlots, where cattle are confined outdoors in pens where the ground is trampled with no grass in sight. 

Despite the Animal Welfare Act 2006 stating that cattle should be allowed to graze and exhibit near natural behaviour whilst ‘fattening’, these unnatural feedlots are becoming more and more popular in the UK in order to meet demand or as the National Beef Association claims ‘efficiency’. Despite observations of animals having all kinds of hoof disorders and many animals treated for all kinds of health problems, farmers are arguing that this is all somehow better for the cows than pasture grazing. There are around 12 already in the UK holding up to 6,000 penned up cows at a time. This may well become the standard practice for farming in the UK and there are currently no regulations of how many cows can be kept like this and permits are not required (May 2021).

There are many horrendous practices that farmers inflict on cattle like disbudding which is a process of burning out the root of a cows emerging horns. This is carried out to protect the farmers so that they can manage the cows more easily. Disbudding uses caustic soda, a burning chemical, a hot iron or special scoop dehorners. It is a frightening experience for tiny calves, they are restrained and have anesthetic injected into both sides of their heads, there is no sure way of knowing if this has worked or not as it is not immediate. This process can cause brain damage, infection, fly infestation and possible chronic pain.

Castration is carried out in order to make bulls more placid, put on weight more rapidly and make the meat pinker. The governments Farm Animal Welfare Council says that castration is an undesirable mutilation but despite this it remains routine procedure in the beef industry.  One method is to fit tight rubber rings around the testes to crush the spermatic cord or this can be done with a metal clamp in two quick bursts called ‘Burdizzo Castration’. Another way is surgical castration (slitting open the testes and removing the scrotum). Anaesthetic isn’t required legally unless the calf is over two months old and of course to keep costs and labour down, most castrations are carried out before calves reach this age.

Animals in the beef industry are often moved between farms several times in their life for trading purposes and this created a hotbed for diseases spreading across the country. On top of this, stressed animals have lower immune systems and are much more susceptible to diseases.

It is estimated that one in thirteen calves die every year from disease, largely due to living conditions, poor hygiene and stress from early weaning and neonatal deaths that take place between 24 hours and 2 weeks after birth are so extensive that they represent ‘a major cause of economic concern within the beef produce industry’.

E-coli, rotavirus, neospora, bovine coronavirus, cryptosporidium or salmonella poisoning are the main causes. Another major killer of calves is bovine respiratory disease, again, due to stress and living conditions and the way in which the cattle are moved about. Bovine TB is also rife among cattle herds and farmers have been blaming badgers which have been culled as a result! There is no sound science to support this decision but a huge amount of evidence to support that it is more than likely born out of the living conditions and treatment of these poor animals.  So far 100,000 badgers have been culled but the massacre has done little to stop the spread and the government aren’t even testing the badgers to see if they have BTB or not. Bovine TB can be passed onto humans. In 2018 over 40,000 cattle were killed due to an outbreak.

These cows are riddled with disease and infection, the list goes, ‘Downer’cows, to weak and sick to stand and carry their weight and are therefore killed, cows with pneumonia, foot and mouth disease, lameness. 

Cows are given all sorts of medication including antibiotics which end up in meat and therefore in humans. The growth of antibiotic-resistant superbugs is now a global threat to health and England’s Chief Medical Officer for Health claimed that we are facing a ‘post-antibiotic apocalypse’.

Despite the pressure on livestock farmers to reduce their antibiotic use due to the global threat of antibiotic resistance at least one third of all antibiotic use in the UK is attributed to livestock.

When it comes to slaughter, cattle are mostly stunned mechanically with a bolt gun through their skull, some are electrocuted. Cows are then shackled by the hind leg and hauled up by an overhead conveyor and their throat is then slit and they bleed to death. 

Farmers will argue that the death is painless due to the pre-stunning, however, it is very clear from footage that these cows are terrified, their eyes are wide and they are trying to escape the slaughter queue as they hear the bellows and smell the blood and fear. The whole process from transport, to stunning to slaughter is barbaric and the footage that we have personally witnessed it just too much to bear. 

Stunning does not always work and takes several attempts to penetrate the correct area, the pain of which is unimaginable.

In some religions stunning is not an option as this is not considered halal. Either way cows will inevitably be conscious and struggle whilst bleeding out being suspended by one leg and we have witnessed the horrendous footage over and over again in different farms and it is truly unimaginable that this is happening everywhere, day in day out  as you read this.  We have also seen footage of baby cows being brutally shot whilst others huddle in the corner trying to escape only to be shot down one by one. All of the footage haunts us.

Pigs are incredible animals with intelligence levels comparable to a human toddler, that’s even more cognitive ability than a dog! Like dogs they wag their tails and jump for joy and play when happy. They  have shown the ability to interact with video games by nudging the joystick with their snouts and have been observed trying to trick other pigs in order to protect their food!

Pigs love to snuggle and even dream! In the wild pigs have established matriarchal societies and are actually very particular and hygienic, a newborn piglet will leave the warmth of its mother to urinate away from the nest from one day old and it is because they have almost no sweat glands (and not because they are dirty animals!) that they roll around in mud to keep cool and ward off parasites!! 

Pigs are emotional and sensitive and pick up on the emotions of others in their group, they can feel a basic level of empathy,  they have brilliant memories and can worry about the future. They remember human faces and when someone has treated them well. They can remember someone that they met up to three years later.

Pigs communicate with each other with different oinks, grunts and squeals, newborn piglets will learn to run to their mothers voice. Studies have shown that pigs may be able to recognise themselves in the mirror which shows an even higher level of intelligence than thought. 

Pigs are extremely tactile and love nothing more than a good back scratch massage or belly rub. Pigs have individual personalities and react differently in different situations, one may be independent and strong another shy and sensitive. Domestic pigs have been known to come to the rescue of other pigs in harm and farmed pigs have reportedly tried to save one another from slaughter.

Sadly in our society, whereas dogs are viewed as man’s best friend, pigs are seen as nothing more than a food product, 1.5 billion a year being bred and killed globally at just 5-6 months old for human consumption, most never getting to see the light of day.

The pigs in factory farms have been selectively bred from wild boar and in their natural habitat,  wild boar will roam forests and shrublands in places like Europe, Asia and North Africa. Their domestication first began around 10,000 years ago. They were hunted to extinction and disappeared in the 17th century although wild boar reappeared in the UK in the 90s! 

Pigs are naturally omnivores, choosing to eat mostly fruit and veg. They typically ‘root’ for their food by disturbing the soil with their snout and in their natural habitat they would enjoy spending hours a day searching out food over vast landscapes. Pigs in the wild can live between 12-20 years. In the UK wild boars can still be found in very small numbers although there are calls for these to be culled due to them being a ‘risk to public’ although an assessment concluded that this was a very small risk in fact it demonstrated that the main occurrence of injury to public was likely from road traffic collision or riders being thrown off horseback by their horses bolting than direct impact. Tragically though in 2020 400 wild boars were culled in the Forest of Dean. 

The reality of a factory farmed pig’s life is bleak. Commercially farmed pigs are selectively bred for their size, lean meat and ability to produce large litters. Most pigs are housed in factory farms in the UK indoors in massive over crowded sheds and the two percent that aren’t will only be allowed outside until they are ten weeks old, at which point they will be moved into indoor ‘finishing sheds’.

The conditions that they spend their lives in are horrendous and cause immense suffering and phycological issues leading to cannibalism and disease with injured and dying pigs witnessed on many occasions being left to rot on factory farm floors. Scientists have warned for years and years that a new pandemic emerging from a pig farm is a very real threat. 

Mother pigs in the UK are forcibly artificially inseminated by farmers and selectively bred to carry huge litters of around thirteen piglets (wild boar would carry four to seven piglets). Some mother pigs are allowed to give birth in outdoor ‘Farrowing Arcs’ -corrugated metal sheds where she can come and go (usually in muddy, barren fields with hundreds of other mother pigs in miserable conditions) but most are forced to give birth in horrendous farrowing crates and stay there for weeks whilst weaning, barely able to move and they are expected to produce five litters in two years. After about five years of breeding mother pigs are killed for cheap meat.

Up until 1999 mother pigs would be forced to spend their entire lives in ‘Sow Stalls’ contraptions like farrowing crates where they were barely able to move for their entire lives. This practice still continues as standard across many parts of the rest of the world including the USA. These crates are for the convenience of the factory farm corporations stopping the sow from turning around. They force the sow to face forwards, towards a feeder and watering device.

Newborn piglets are pulled from the farrowing crates and thrown into metal troughs then have their tails clipped off with hot knives and their teeth clipped away with pliers or ground down, without pain relief and in a brutal, often careless manner which often cuts the gum and splinters the teeth causing infection and chronic pain. This is to stop tail biting that is common when animals are in distress or bored and although regulators stated that this is no longer permitted and other type of management should be tried unless recommended by a vet, this practice is still routine within the industry.

Another thankfully now banned practice is Piglet castration without anaesthesia which was traditionally performed to make the management of boars easier and to prevent ‘boar taint’ where the taste of meat is spoiled by testosterone from a maturing animal. Because pigs are now slaughtered at such a young age, castration is uncommon in the UK.

Chemical castration is still permitted but banned under the Red Tractor scheme which covers 94 per cent of UK pig production.

When piglets are too small to be profitable, it is accepted standard practice to kill them by throwing them onto the concrete floor. 12% of piglets will die before they reach weaning age (which naturally would be around 12-15 weeks old but in the fast paced factory farm environment they are forcibly weaned at around 3-4 weeks old) with most deaths occurring within the first few hours of life from crushing, starvation or hyperthermia. This is a direct result of the factory conditions, in the wild a sow would have less piglets and would be free to build a nest to protect her young but they are unable to do this in a factory farm environment. 

The early weaning not only causes emotional stress, it causes major developmental problems, particularly their under developed digestive systems which leads to severe diarrhoea whilst also being susceptible to disease because they are not receiving essential antibodies from their mothers milk. To counteract this, the piglets are put on medication, antibiotics & iron supplements. The piglets live out the first ten weeks in growing sheds where there is no stimulation and hard concrete floors. Denied the opportunity to play a learn, piglets develop behavioural abnormalities in later life.

Around ten weeks old, piglets are moved to the fattening and finishing shed, a barren concrete shed, where they will stay until they reach their final weight of 100kg or more. Crowding is usual with as little of one square meter of space for a fully grown pig (that’s twelve 17 stone pigs in one standard car parking space).  Regulations recommend that pigs should be given ‘enrichments’ in order to allow them to carry out some of their natural behaviours, but these are usually minimal and are token gestures to satisfy recommendations such as a hanging chain or giving them an old football or a dirty plastic bottle to play with.

Pigs roll in mud to regulate their heat but without this, they will roll in their own excrement instead which combined with the low immune system of stressed pigs, increases the risk of disease transmission.

Enzootic pneumonia is estimated to affect 80 per cent of UK pigs and pleuropneumonia can kill 30-50 per cent of those pigs who are infected. Porcine Respiratory Disease Complex (PRDC) is another common viral infection that weak, new-born piglets are particularly susceptible to.

Currently, African Swine Fever (ASF) is a pandemic in pigs and is the most significant threat to the global pig population seen in modern times. The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that this viral disease will have killed a quarter of the world’s 800 million pigs before the epidemic is brought under control. The disease, which causes fever, vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and blood clots to develop in the bloodstream, has a death rate of nearly 100 per cent.

Foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious viral disease that spreads like wildfire among farmed cows, sheep, goats and pigs. In 2001, it led to farmers killing millions of their animals.

Diseases in pig farms aren’t just a threat to the pig population, they are also a threat to humans.

Swine flu is the popular name for a relatively new strain of the H1N1 influenza virus that was responsible for the flu pandemic of 2009 and 2010. The virus contains genes from pig, chicken and human viruses and was aided and abetted by factory farming.

The first cases were reported in California and Texas and it then spread rapidly around the world , killing between 150,000 and 575,000 people in its first year, before a vaccine was developed. Swine flu has now joined the pantheon of other types of flu that lead to outbreaks every winter.

Lameness is common in farmed pigs and can be caused by infection, injury or underlying diseases. These injuries often take the form of calluses, swellings, wounds and abscesses. Foot rot is a bacterial infection, made worse by the urine-soaked conditions on most shed floors and is another common problem that can cause ulcers and sepsis. Dead and dying pigs have been filmed lying in gangways ignored or unnoticed.

Factory farm environments are fertile grounds for disease and injury and consequently, antibiotics are widely used in order to get pigs to slaughter age.

Until 2006, three types of antibiotic were used – one to prevent diseases (prophylactic), one to cure diseases (therapeutic) and one simply to make animals grow faster (growth promoters). Growth- promoting antibiotics were banned by the EU (which also applied to the UK) in 2006 but the other types are still permitted. Growth promoting antibiotics are still used worldwide as standard including the USA.

The growth of antibiotic-resistant superbugs is now a global threat to health and England’s Chief Medical Officer for Health, Professor Dame Sally Davis, claims that we are facing a ‘post-antibiotic apocalypse’.

Despite the pressure on livestock farmers to reduce their antibiotic use due to the global threat of antibiotic resistance at least one third of all antibiotic use in the UK is attributed to livestock, with pig and poultry factory farms being the worst offenders.

There are regulators such as The National Pig Association and the familiar ‘Red Tractor’ type schemes but charities like Viva! have demonstrated over and over again that these schemes are woefully inadequate and nothing more than a marketing ploy to make consumers feel better.  Vegan charity Viva! has exposed pigs suffering from extreme lameness, injury and abscesses in Red Tractor approved farms

93 percent of pig meat is from pigs raised indoors, most on intensive farms. 98 percent of pig meat is from animals raised indoors most of their lives. 

The lives of all pigs bred for meat in the UK end at five to six months old.

Around 10.6 million pigs are slaughtered in the UK each year. All pigs in the UK are stunned before slaughter, the vast majority (86%) in gas chambers. This is not instant and pigs struggle for up to thirty seconds before losing consciousness, they must have their throats cut within 15 seconds to avoid them regaining consciousness. 

The remaining 14% are stunned through electronarcosis, an electric current being passed through the brain of the pig using a tong like instrument. This method commonly fails and animals have been documented regaining consciousness before having their throats cut.

Pigs are then hung upside down to ‘bleed out’ it is not uncommon to see pigs thrashing about until the eventually die. 

Sheep have a level of intelligence similar to that of pigs who are considered one of the most intelligent species on earth! The way that their brain works has even been compared to humans, specifically when it comes to decision making and learning. 

They form best friends and strong bonds that can last a lifetime, they also dislike certain members in the flock but if they do like you they have demonstrated fierce loyalty and protect weaker friends in fights. Sheep have feelings and experience boredom, happiness and fear, they have excellent memories and can remember at least 50 individual sheep and peoples faces for years. Sheep will self medicate, eating specific health giving plants when they feel unwell. They are highly complex animals and have varying emotional states which can be observed by watching body language and ear position. 

Ewes are caring mothers and form strong bonds with their lambs and quickly learn to recognise each others bleats in case they loose each other. Sheep have always been thought to be a bit stupid and mindless but studies have shown tath this is massively inaccurate, they are actually really smart and it would appear that sheep have been given a raw deal for generations !

Sheep were domesticated around 10,000 years ago. Wild sheep still exist around the world and observing them gives a good idea of how domesticated sheep would live in the wild. Sheep would normally live in hilly, mountainous habitats and are meek, they will occasionally fight back and have been known to lock horns. Sheep tend to stick with their own gender outside of mating. They don’t really care for grass and clover, instead opting for plants, seeds, wildflowers and roughage. Sheep can live up to 12 years sometimes longer. 

In the wild, sheep would shed their wool naturally, however, due to selective breeding in factory farms over many generations, sheep now have to be sheared.

Sheep farming seems natural and wholesome, we are used to seeing these animals in fields outdoors, however, just like all forms of factory farming, this is a very cruel industry.

Around 14 million sheep are killed a year in factory farms. There are just under 34 million sheep in factory farming systems in the UK. 

Lambs would normally stay with their mums and suckle for up to six months, in factory farms they are forcibly weaned at 8 weeks old and fed grass so that they put on weight quicker. The separation process is heart breaking for both mum and baby. 

In order to make the meat taste better and render them more docile, male lambs will be castrated at less than one week old, normally by fitting tight rubber rings or clamps around the testes to crush the spermatic cord. Another way is surgical castration (slitting open the testes and removing the scrotum). Even where anaesthetic is used, this caused acute pain.  

Very young lambs are subjected to another form of mutilation by having their tails docked. A hot iron, tight rubber ring or knife is used to remove most of their tails. This is all to make farming easier for the farmers.

Ewes are sheared once, sometimes twice a year, this process is a far cry to the idyllic thought provoking images that we have in traditional story books, due to such high numbers to get through, the sheep are often manhandled, pinned down and cut open by careless farmers and stitched up with no pain relief.

Lamb mortality rates are high, mother sheep would, in the wild, only give birth to one lamb in one litter, however, due to selective breeding, they are now giving birth to up to five lambs in one litter. With 16 million lambs being born a year between 2.4 and 3.2 million die from disease and exposure. This is largely down to farmers wanting to cash in on the spring lamb market. 

Lambs are sent to slaughter at 10 weeks old to one year, the average age being 6-7 months even though they could live up to 12 years old. They are often transported around the country to meet their death in abattoirs. When the mother sheep’s fertility drops off,  usually at around 6 years old, she will be sent for slaughter and her flesh sold as mutton. 

The sheep that we see grazing in fields are often in horrendous pain, suffering from lameness. Sheep are naturally an uplands species so when we graze them in the frequently wet lowlands their feet rot and this is what results in the lameness. If you see a sheep grazing on their knees, this is because their feet are too sore to stand on. This is all down to poor management and costs the industries around 28 million a year with 3 million sheep lame at any one time. 

When it comes to slaughter, sheep are mostly stunned mechanically with a bolt gun through their skull, some are electrocuted with giant tongs. The sheep are then shackled by the hind leg and hauled up by an overhead conveyor and their throat is then slit and they bleed to death. 

Farmers will argue that the death is painless due to the pre-stunning, however, footage has documented terrified sheep in the abattoir pens hearing the nose and smelling fear. The whole process from transport, to stunning to slaughter is barbaric.. 

Stunning does not always work and takes several attempts to penetrate the correct area, the pain of which is unimaginable. In some religions stunning is not an option as this is not considered halal. Either way animals will inevitably be conscious and struggle whilst bleeding out being suspended by one leg, this is happening everywhere, day in day out  as you read this. 

CHICKEN

Chickens love talking and have up to 30 different vocalisations with different meanings. Chicks even talk to their mums, brothers and sisters before they have even hatched by making little calls to let them know if they are cold, in distress or just to let them know that they are happy. A mother hen will risk her own life to save her chicks. 

Chickens have highly sensitive beaks and just like our fingertips, they use them to navigate the world. They are filled with nerve endings for touch, pain, taste and temperature. Chickens have displayed empathy by a distressed puff of air when witnessing their chicks in distress and they have better eyesight than us and see even more colours and even ultraviolet light!

An increasing number of studies has demonstrated that chickens are as clever as monkeys, they have been observed counting to ten, demonstrating self control and social learning, have episodic memories and even the ability to deceive others to benefit themselves which is a good sign of ‘Machiavellian intelligence’. Chickens are the closest living ancestors to the Tyrannosaurus rex! 

A chicken’s normal lifespan would be 5-8 years, in some cases 10-12 years. In the wild they would spend their lives foraging or dozing. 

Chickens are a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl, a stunning bird with a plumage of many beautiful vibrant colours. Red junglefowl were domesticated around 8,000 years ago (although some studies suggest earlier). 

Since the 50’s, chickens bred for meat have been selectively bred to gain weight quickly so that they are much bigger than their ancestors and egg laying hens (who are purposely bred skinnier) the two industries are different. The life of a meat chicken is short and brutal, birth to death in 6-7 weeks. 

Most don’t see the light of day until they are on their way to slaughter in tightly packed lorries. Their bodies may be huge but their eyes are still blue and their chirps are still the tiny cheeps of chicks.

The sheds that these chickens have lived their short 42-56 day lives in are often windowless and foul smelling, covered in urine. Their underdeveloped bones are unable to support the huge weight gain and many are crippled or lame and scars from hock burns off of the shed floor are often visible on carcases on supermarket shelves. Many of these chickens can’t get themselves to the food and water points and die of starvation and dehydration whilst others will have a heart attack or lung problems due to their unnatural growth.

The National Farmers Union states that the UK alone slaughters 20 million broiler chickens A WEEK, this is growing at a rate of 3% a year. It contributes more than 4.6 billion to the economy every year.

Broiler Breeders are the chickens that lay the eggs for the chicken meat industry, there are around 8 million bred for the chicken industry each year who will produce around 140 chicks in their artificially short lifetime.  They are kept in sheds with around a thousand chickens per pen and have carefully managed lighting, temperature and ventilation. Their feed is restricted so that they grow more slowly, unlike their offspring. This is to achieve desired levels of fertility. They are often hungry and stressed as a result displaying abnormal behaviours such as feather pecking and aggression. Drinking more to alleviate the hunger leads to wetter ammonia filled floors resulting in hock burns, lesions and skin diseases.

Around 50% of the flock are male and kept separately to achieve maximum number of fertile hatching eggs. The males have their beaks trimmed, the process is carried out at around five days of age and can lead to severe and lasting pain. There are also other mutilations that may be carried out on male broiler chickens such as the removal of all or part of the comb (dubbing), the removal of the spur bud on the back of the leg (despurring) and the removal of the dew and pivot claw from the feet (declawing). Dubbing supposedly helps to limit sexing errors during rearing and helps avoid losses due to excessive comb growth, whereas despurring and declawing reduces damage to females during mating. 

Over 95% of chickens raised for meat in the UK are raised in intensive units – giant sheds (legally allowed to have no windows) with controlled environments to encourage growth, housing at least 40,000 birds. The number of large intensive pig and poultry farms is ever increasing and this type of systematic farming rose by a huge 27% in the poultry sector between 2011 and 2017.

Broiler chickens are fed via automated feed lines and are fed limited amounts of water through ‘nipple drinkers’ often containing chlorine or peroxide in order to help control virus’s (this is stopped 5-7 days prior to culling in the hope that it will stop it from being present in the meat when consumed by humans).

The straw, peat and wood shavings lining the food of the sheds are not normally changed in the chickens lifetimes and sitting in their own ammonia and faces causes the birds skin rashes and chemical burns that can often turn the skin black called hock burns. The University of Cambridge found that these hock burns could be identified in 82% of birds sold in supermarkets but said that this figure could be even higher as the lesions are often removed prior to the meat going on sale.  Many KFC chickens were discovered having hock burn in a report published in 2020 by The Guardian.

Some regulators call for birds in these environments to have ‘enrichments’ although there are no legal requirements. Enrichments are supposed to improve the chickens’ lives and alleviate boredom, things to sit on or peck at like hay bales or empty containers, but with there are usually too many birds per item and with established hierarchies most birds don’t get a look in. 

‘Better Chicken Commitment calls for two metres at least of perch space per 1000 birds and two objects to peck.  ‘Red Tractor’ requested that all of its scheme members add windows to their sheds within a two and half year time frame but the suffering and inhumanity that these chickens go through is really incomprehensible and these token gestures do little to resolve them. Consumers feel that they are getting something of better standard but all of these improvements can really only be seen as token gestures put in only to credit themselves with higher welfare stamps on their products. The animals are still truly suffering from cradle to grave. 

Free Range

Free range birds are reared for around 56 days as opposed to 42 with a few less birds per square meter. They have daytime access to an external enclosed run area for a limited period of time during their lives. They spend most of their time indoors in sheds much like standard broilers. They are killed at two months old.

Organic

Organic Broilers have daily access to an outside space for at least a third of their lives and have a few less birds per square metre. They are left to grow at a slower pace and spend most of their time inside sheds. They are killed at 2 months old.

In all cases, chickens raised in intensive farming systems will suffer diseases. Lameness is common due to excessive weight gain as a direct result of selective breeding. Their bones can’t handle the weight and are often fractured and broken, joints exasperated under the stress and infected, caused by bacteria. Severe walking problems are present. The European Commissions Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Welfare sighted this as likely to cause chronic pain.

Heart and lung problems are common and have been seen to affect almost one third of broiler chickens in a flock. Cannibalism is common due to a combination of stress causing pecking from a young age coupled with hock burn creating open wounds inviting this type of behaviour in densely packed birds. Enrichments would help with this although there is no legal requirement for these.

Female chickens are not beak trimmed like female egg layers or male broilers as they are killed before reaching sexual maturity.

Factory farms provide the perfect environment for the rapid spread of diseases. An outbreak can infect an entire shed of 30,000 chickens within 72 hours to a week. This can spread during the thinning process (when sheds get over crowded and chickens are removed when they are smaller to sell on as lower weight chickens).

Campylobacter, one such disease, spreads to humans and is a common form of food poisoning in the UK. Cases increased in 2017, according to Defra, associated with the consumption of chicken and duck liver pate. E-coli and Salmonella cause serious food poisoning in humans.

A classic example of a zoonotic disease arising from chickens is Avian Influenza or bird flu. In 2003 a HN58 strain of bird flu in Holland led to the culling of 30 million chickens and in April 2020 there was an outbreak of the highly contagious HN58 strain circulating europe.

Like all virus’s bird flu is continually mutating, several strains that can affect humans are H5N1, H7N9 and H9N2. There are thousands and thousands of cases of these flu’s in farmed chicken and when they aren’t brought under control and effect humans, as we have seen with Covid 19, the results are devastating with high mortality rates. 

H5N1 is particularly worrying scientists as the mortality rate is a terrifying 60%, by contrast, seasonal flu kills about 0.1% of those infected. Globally more than 15,000 outbreaks of H5N1 has been reported among poultry (chickens, turkeys and geese) between 2005 and 2018. Cases in humans have come from the consumption of infected meat along with handling and slaughtering), since 2003 over 800 people have been infected with HN51 avian influenza and over 450 died of it. This may seem low, but if the virus mutates to become more easily able to be spread in  humans, we could be facing another pandemic, although this would be unlike anything we have ever seen before including the covid-19 pandemic. H5N1 could be 90 times more deadly should it run rampant in humans killing 6 out of 10 people infected as opposed to covid-19 which kills 0.6 percent of those infected. 

As of  2006 240 million birds died or were killed to prevent the virus spreading.

Intensely overcrowded conditions enable viruses to mutate and spread. Commercial poultry farms, wet markets, poultry slaughtering facilities, pig farms, human dietary habits and the global trade in exotic animals are all implicated in the spread of influenza or corona (named due to their crown like appearance) viruses.

There are over 200 zoonotic diseases and 56 of them effect some two and a half billion people and cause nearly three million deaths every year. Three out of four new emerging diseases come from our animals and many of our existing diseases came from animals including the common cold, flu, polio, AIDS, measles, MARS, SERS and Ebola.

Scientists have been warning for years of the impending global threat to human health from our mistreatment of animals, in 2008 Dr Greger MD, at the time a professor in infectious diseases (who now advocates the benefits of a vegan whole foods plant based diet through his non profit site nutritionfacts.org) stated that the biggest threat to human life is a flu like pandemic emerging from factory farms or suchlike. 

Assurance schemes like Red Tractor, The Soil Association & RSPCA claim that their stamp means better animal welfare although consumers seem reluctant to pay for the higher welfare chickens. 

Here is a summary of space allowances:

British Standard – 19-20 birds per square meter (39kg)

Red Tractor – 19 Birds per square meter (38kg)

RSPCA – 15 Birds per square meter (30kg)

Better Chicken Commitment has been growing momentum since November 2016 across the world with food companies committing to better welfare for chickens by 2026 although there is a problem-consumers are reluctant to pay extra for better welfare chicken and as the outlay to farmers is 33 pence per bird increase in rearing cost and 22 percent extra land outlay compared to intensively farmed, fast growing birds. 

The conditions proposed by the BCC are still grossly unnatural and chickens will still be killed at a very young age. Roughly three million broiler chickens are killed a day in the UK.

As with all factory farming, slaughter is big business and time is money which means slaughter lines prioritise speed over welfare. After thinning has taken place, chickens that are still alive (2-3 percent will die per year, that’s 22-34 million birds) are transported in tightly packed crates to their death. They will be slaughtered in one of two ways, gassing or electrical stunning and throat cutting. 

For gassing, the birds remain in the crates and are placed in a chamber, exposed to a mixture of gas and air until dead.

Throat cutting involves hanging birds upside down by their legs on metal shackles and moving them along a conveyor belt towards an electrified water bath. They are then stunned and moved along where a mechanical cutter severs the major blood vessels in their necks. Around ten thousand birds an hour can be moved through these machines and welfare standards are often compromised. 

Birds are not always stunned entirely and some lift their heads away from the bath. The neck cutting also sometimes fails which means birds are only partially dead or not at all when they reach the scalding tanks to loosen their feathers and are essentially boiled alive.

Cows are like big cats and dogs and if you were to spend time with them in the same way, it soon becomes apparent that as with our beloved pets, cows too have their own individual personalities and character traits! Some are very quick learners, some shy, some bold and bossy & some playful and silly! Research has even shown cows to hold grudges! They are complex, intelligent creatures with a long memory and a lust for life. Cows have a huge maternal instinct and will develop a huge bond with young. They mourn deaths of friends, they have even been known to shed tears when being separated from loved ones. Much like a pack of wolves, cows form a hierarchy’s and choose suitable leaders. They can recognise 50 or more members of their herd!

Cows have demonstrated advanced cognitive abilities learning how to operate buttons and levers with their heads to release water or grain. Research suggests that cows enjoy these intellectual challenges and even get excited like Humans do once they have figured something out!

‘Dairy Cows’ don’t just produce milk all the time. They are new mothers and Just like any other mammal, cow’s only produce milk when pregnant for the sole purpose of feeding their babies and therefore in order to maintain a supply of cow’s milk for humans to drink, dairy cows are forcibly impregnated over and over again and forced to give milk the entire time. Their new born calves are brutally removed almost immediately after birth causing massive anxiety and devastation to both mother and baby who will cry out for each other for days if not weeks. Mother cows are hugely maternal creatures and are left heartbroken and confused and led straight back into a life of fear in slavery.

Female calves will meet the same fate as their mothers and male calves are viewed as a bi product and usually shot. Every year in the UK around 90,000 dairy cows are shot and discarded because they are not deemed profitable enough. Some are sold on and raised for beef whilst others killed for veal. Female calves are usually kept in solitary confinement pens for up to 8 weeks. Their mothers will be milked up to three times a day and undercover cameras on many farms throughout the UK have repeatedly documented an apparent common practice of mother cows being systematically kicked, punched and abused until they comply. 

Humans are sold the idea that the Dairy industry is a wholesome, natural industry but a dairy cow is the possibly the most exploited, violated animal of all and over a longer period. Dairy cows are allowed to graze out in fields for 6 months of the year and this reinforces the illusion when we see cows out in fields but the reality is that dairy cows spend seven months of every year pregnant and at the same time being forced to produce large quantities of milk. 

This takes a huge toll on their bodies and diseases such as mastities (inflammation of udders) affect up to 50% of dairy cows and is a major reason that they are killed so young. The grazing time is being reduced and in some cases taken away completely in order to increase profit.

Mother cows who are worn out and no longer of use  (known as ‘downers’) are shot, usually at a fairly young age. All of this is considered legal practice and subsidised by the government using taxpayers money. Studies are showing time and time again that cows milk is not required for optimal human health and in fact has links to ill health, the promotion of milk being needed for human health in fact came about due to a massive surplus of milk/milk industries left over at the end of WW2 when gigantic industries were funded and set up to send powdered milk out to troops as quick protein.  

Find out more on nutrition and milk in our Happy Herbivore Hive area where we delve into the pros and cons of dairy from a human health standpoint.

Chickens love talking and have up to 30 different vocalisations with different meanings. Chicks even talk to their mums, brothers and sisters before they have even hatched by making little calls to let them know if they are cold, in distress or just to let them know that they are happy. A mother hen will risk her own life to save her chicks. 

Chickens have highly sensitive beaks and just like our fingertips, they use them to navigate the world. They are filled with nerve endings for touch, pain, taste and temperature. Chickens have displayed empathy by a distressed puff of air when witnessing their chicks in distress and they have better eyesight than us and see even more colours and even ultraviolet light!

An increasing number of studies has demonstrated that chickens are as clever as monkeys, they have been observed counting to ten, demonstrating self control and social learning, have episodic memories and even the ability to deceive others to benefit themselves which is a good sign of ‘Machiavellian intelligence’. Chickens are the closest living ancestors to the Tyrannosaurus rex! 

A chicken’s normal lifespan would be 5-8 years, in some cases 10-12 years. In the wild they would spend their lives foraging or dozing. 

Chickens are a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl, a stunning bird with a plumage of many beautiful vibrant colours. Red junglefowl were domesticated around 8,000 years ago (although some studies suggest earlier). 

Chickens don’t naturally lay three hundred or more eggs a year, they have been selectively bred to do so and at great detriment to their health and welfare. The ancestors of the modern day egg laying hen only produced around ten to fifteen eggs a year and even then, in clutches, not every day. They would be free to lovingly build their nests ready for their spring brood and sit on their eggs once laid for three weeks, fiercely protecting them, only leaving the nest once a day for nourishment and a dust bath. In a natural situation chicks would stay with their mother for up to twelve weeks after hatching.

Modern day, selectively bred hens are possibly the most abused animals on earth laying thirty times more eggs than they would have produced without human selective breeding and this takes a huge toll on their little bodies and depletes them of vitamins and minerals including calcium which is used for the shell of the eggs. 

There is a huge problem with osteoporosis and  broken bones (it is reported that  86% of commercial egg laying hens in the UK suffer painful fractures). Laying such massive unnatural quantities leads to many health problems in hens and they can die of things like  ‘egg binding’ where eggs get stuck on the way out and many hens prolapse due to the excessive egg laying. Yolk can leak into the hens bodies causing egg  yolk peritonitis and get infected, leading to death. 

Hens would normally eat their own unfertilised eggs & shells to replenish their calcium & nutrient levels. Humans are advised to cull hens seen to be eating their own eggs as this will of course mean less eggs for human consumption. When hens stop laying eggs, they are normally killed and new ones purchased as there is no point paying for their feed if they are not ‘giving back’.

All hens, including free range come from the same hatcheries as caged hens where male chicks are gassed or thrown onto conveyor belts and ground up alive in a giant macerator because they are of no use to the egg industry and bred far too skinny for the meat industry. 30-40 million male chicks in the UK meet this fate every year. It is suggested that a ban will come into force to stop this and instead technology will be used to determine the sex of the embryo developing inside an egg 7 days after fertilisation so that male chick eggs will be thrown away before hatching although depending on what stage this is carried out it is potentially not much different as tiny chicks in their eggs are known to communicate with their mother hens in the wild so very much sentient.

Most of the female chicks are debeaked without pain relief and shipped to the commercial egg industry in cartons over long distances and are often subject to heat or cold stress as they cannot regulate their temperature at such a young age. They are denied food and water for the duration of these journeys that can last up to 36 hours. They are then forced to ‘growing sites’ and eventually transferred to, at best, an organic or free range farm shed where they may stand a small chance of getting outside or at worst a caged farm where they will definitely never get to see the light of day and are committed to a life in a cage. They are then killed at just 18 months old when they stop laying eggs.

Living conditions frustrate these birds to boredom, disease is rife and ‘aggressive pecking’ is directed at the head of another bird and ‘feather pecking’ is directed at the plumage. Hens will often rip out the feathers of other hens, or even peck them to death and engage in cannibalism. Birds feet and often featherless breasts will become sore from the caged floor and they will have open sores and ammonia from urine seeping into these wounds will cause immense pain. 

Respiratory diseases are common in chickens and spread quickly. Egg peritonitis, as previously mentioned, is a distressing cause of death and causes infection and inflammation of the abdominal cavity. It can be caused by E-coli and causes the egg to become stuck and even break internally. Prolapses are common where part of the hens innards hang out due to excessive and unnatural egg laying, injuries like this will often get pecked and become horrendous infected wounds.

Skin diseases are common including ammonia burns and blisters from relentless contact with the caged floor covered in faces and urine. Red mite infestations are also common as hens cannot groom properly due to the beak trimming.

Welfare and disease problems are exacerbated by difficulty inspecting birds due the the vast numbers in sheds, the birds are stacked on shelves on top of each other and stock keepers find it hard to reach in and see.

Some diseases in chickens can be passed to humans such as Avian Influenza or bird flu. In 2003 a HN58 strain of bird flu in holland led to the culling of 30 million chickens and in April 2020 there was an outbreak of the highly contagious HN58 strain circulating europe.

Like all virus’s bird flu is continually mutating, several strains that can effect humans are H5N1, H7N9 and H9N2. There are thousands and thousands of cases of these flu’s in farmed chicken and when they aren’t brought under control and effect humans, as we have seen with covid 19, the results are devastating with high mortality rates. 

Scientists have been warning for years of the impending global threat to human health from our mistreatment of animals, in 2008 Dr Greger MD, at the time a professor in infectious diseases (who now advocates the benefits of a vegan whole foods plant based diet through his non profit site nutritionfacts.org) stated that the biggest threat to human life is a flu like pandemic emerging from factory farms or suchlike.

Salmonella vaccines and antibiotics are the norm in the egg industry (apart from organic where disease is rife) hens are given all sorts of medication including antibiotics which end up in eggs and therefore in humans. The growth of antibiotic-resistant superbugs is now a global threat to health and England’s Chief Medical Officer for Health claimed that we are facing a ‘post-antibiotic apocalypse’.

Despite the pressure on farmers to reduce their antibiotic use due to the global threat of antibiotic resistance at least one third of all antibiotic use in the UK is attributed to farming.

If egg laying hens don’t succumb to illness, at about 72 weeks old (around a year and a half) they are considered spent and put into a chamber that will be flooded with gas, they will fight for their lives until they eventually die through lack of oxygen and suffocation, the process takes around 2-5 minutes.

Over 800,000 ‘spent’ hens are slaughtered each year and 92%  are killed this way. 6.4% are killed in a halal method (islamic ritual where the animals must be alive when their threats are cut). In factory farms they are painfully hung upside down,flapping and struggling in distress,  dragged through an electrically charged bath and then have their throats slit and bleed out. Stunning doesn’t always work and therefore although an electric shock has rendered the bird motionless they are still fully conscious when their throats are cut. This is thought to affect 26-30% of chickens slaughtered under halal certification.

Traditionally halal methods are carried out without stunning and it is not unusual for them to flap and jump around headless for a few seconds before dying. 1.4% of hens in the UK are still killed in a non-stunning halal method, that’s around 10,000 hens.

Meat from egg laying hens is deemed as inferior ‘quality’ and around 41 per cent goes to wholesale traders, mainly for use as pet food. Some 56 per cent is frozen and exported to EU and non-EU countries, one per cent is sent to butchers and two per cent is unknown.

Caged Hens (42%)

42% of egg laying hens are in cages. Battery cages were around the size of an A4 piece of paper (a hens average wing span is about four times that) these are still used widely around the world but abolished in the he UK in 2012. Caged hens now live in ‘enriched cages’  which are bigger cages housing 40 and 80 hens and allows about a post card sized piece of extra room per bird. These birds will spend a significant proportion of their lives standing on sloping wire mesh floors with little room to move, unable to spread their wings. They live under artificial light, denied fresh air and sunshine. Enrichments such as nesting boxes, perches and dust baths are now mandatory but with thousands of birds all fighting over these it is more of a token gesture to tick a box and most hens won’t get a look in.

Charity Viva! Has carried out many high profile Investigations and frequently found dead and dying birds in these cages without adequate nesting boxes. Thankfully this system is being phased out due to the horrendous conditions.

Barn Percheries (2%)

A million miles away from the images of a few dozen happy hens roaming around in a rustic barn, barn eggs actually come from thousands and thousands of hens kept in massive indoor sheds, living their entire lives under artificial lighting, perching on shared metal racks. The new British Lion Standard stipulates that there can be only 9 hens per square meter, again, for context a standard uk car parking space is around 12 square meters so imagine 198 hens squashed into a car parking space. Legally they must have 15cm of space each, again for context, a standard school ruler is 30cm! 

The standards advise that farmers must provide enrichments (comforts such as a perch, litter and nests)  however, this is only 2 per thousand birds to meet requirements and with as many as 120 birds in any one area at a time, barely any of them get a look in. The farmers though, get to advertise that they meet British Lion Standards and therefore consumers will more than likely assume that these birds must be all very well looked after and cared for.

Free Range Hens (56%)  & Organic Free Range Hens (3% of free range Hens)

On a so-called ‘free range’ farm a farmer can keep 16,000 birds in one barn, that’s 9 birds per 1 square meter (for context, a typical car parking space is about 12 square metres so imagine 198 hens in 1 car parking space. That’s only 15cm of space on the perch each). In order to label an egg free range, the hens legally have to have access to an outside area but because of the size of the barns and natural pecking orders many will never get to see the light of day. These barns are totally overcrowded, stinking, oppressive environments. 

Although the Lion standard stipulates that free range hens should have access to an outside space with vegetation that is adequate to fit 2,500 birds per hectare, the access is a tiny pop hole with 800 birds per pop hole and dominants birds guarding them, many birds still never see the light of day. Viva! Animal welfare charity has uncovered upsetting scenes at many free range farms including where the ‘Happy Egg’ brand is based.

Organic Free Range

Organic hens are also crowded in barns, the main difference is that there are 6 hens per square meter rather than nine. Still horrendous living conditions. They are allowed 3cm more space than barn and standard free range hens (18cm rather than 15cm). 

Routine debeaking is forbidden on organic farms but this has its own issues when tightly packing hens together in unnatural environments such as pecking which causes wounds, the birds suffer and organic standards dont allow the use of antibiotics and therefore disease can spread more quickly.  Day old male chicks are of course still slaughtered in the organic industry. 

Viva! Has uncovered cruelty and neglect in even award winning farms. Sadly it’s inherent in the system.

The Soil Association UK has the strictest standards but even then, flocks are allowed of up to 2,000 birds! The outside space is better affording each hen a minimum of 10 square meters of space outside each ( a bit smaller than a car parking space) but only if they get a look in through the pop hole but even then,  this is still NOTHING like their natural habitat and they are still genetically modified hens that are enslaved to produce way more eggs than they should only to have them taken away. They are lacking nutrients, prolapsing,  day old male chicks will still be slaughtered as bi product, female lives short lived etc etc etc.  The reasons to reject this industry are endless and even standards like the Soil Association that are marginally better are unsustainable for big supermarket supply, the land mass and costs are too vast  so you will rarely find these eggs anyway..  

Barn Percheries (2%)

A million miles away from the images of a few dozen happy hens roaming around in a rustic barn, barn eggs actually come from thousands and thousands of hens kept in massive indoor sheds, living their entire lives under artificial lighting, perching on shared metal racks. The new British Lion Standard stipulates that there can be only 9 hens per square meter, again, for context a standard UK car parking space is around 12 square meters so imagine 198 hens squashed into a car parking space. The standards advise that farmers must provide enrichments (comforts such as a perch, litter and nests)  however, this is only 2 per thousand birds to meet requirements and with as many as 120 birds in any one area at a time, barely any of them get a look in. The farmers though can advertise that they meet British Lion Standards and therefore consumers will more than likely assume that these birds must be all very well looked after and cared for.

Backyard Hens 

Backyard hens aren’t cruelty free contrary to common belief, they are mostly purchased from breeders or farms and therefore a purchaser would still be contributing to the problems associated in the egg industry such as male chicks being killed at birth by gassing or maceration. These hens are still genetically modified to naturally lay the amount of eggs that their owner would expect, around 300 a year as opposed to the 12-15 a year that they would have laid in the wild so their tiny bodies are still bearing a huge strain and they are prone to prolapse, peritonitis, be lacking in vital nutrients, calcium deficiencies and possibly fractures.  They will still be cooped up to some degree.

In truth, there is no ethical way to take an egg from a hen in the same way that there is no ethical way to take an animal’s life. 

1-2.7 trillion marine animals a year are killed for human consumption (we kill around 60 billion land animals a year for context). Fish and shellfish have a nervous systems and a brain and are much like birds in their sentience. Fish DO feel pain and display this in their actions, but don’t make any audible noises to demonstrate the pain… this is perhaps a reason why it is always so up for debate. Fish suffer in silence. Even bivalves like cockles & mussels demonstrate self preservation responses.

Fish learn to avoid unpleasant experiences. Changes in cortisone levels observed in fish in different situations tell us that fish feel fear and stress, in fact fish are very intelligent and research shows that fish can be taught how to evade a trap and remember maps, recognise friends and form social hierarchies. Fish work together with different species of fish and remember who was cooperative and who wasn’t. Fish are in fact highly intelligent and think, feel and have a range of emotions. 

Fish are caught in many ways, they are left on lines, injured and struggling to free themselves for hours, suffer organ failure on the ascent to the fishing boat and left to suffocate or are crushed under the weight of the catch. Many fish are gutted whilst still alive, it can take up to 55 minutes to four hours for various fish to die during asphyxiation and some fish will remain conscious for 20-40 minutes after they have been gutted.

Aqua farming involves fish spending their entire lives swimming in small circles in cages  or concrete tanks. Due to the overcrowding the fish are often diseased and suffer fin damage or spinal deformity as well as parasitic infections. Antibiotic use is rampant in fish farms. Fish that are deemed too sick are often beaten to death.

Prawns and crustaceans routinely have their eyes cut out, the practice, called ‘eyestalk ablation’ happens to female shrimps (or prawns) in almost every marine shrimp maturation or reproduction facility in the world, both research and commercial. The aim of ablation under these circumstances is to stimulate the female shrimp to develop mature ovaries and spawn. Most captive conditions for shrimp cause inhibitions in females that prevent them from developing mature ovaries. The eyes are sliced open and squeezed out, or cut off with a heated blade — usually without any pain relief.

Farmed fish are slaughtered by a range of methods. Some are beaten, some gassed whilst others electrocuted. Some have their gills cut off whilst still alive. Some are simply left to suffocate, at times on ice where they will struggle relentlessly to get the ice out of their gills before they inevitably die. Fish are often processed whilst alive, some may even appear dead but they are simply paralysed from the cold and will still feel pain, stress and fear. In some parts of the world it is a delicacy to eat fish and octopi alive and you will find partially gutted fish, with visible beating hearts on a fish counter.

Lobsters will clearly struggle to avoid being lowered into pans of boiling water and desperately attempt to climb the sides if they are unlucky enough not to die instantly.

Some fish are carnivorous and are fed wild fish so contrary to any sustainability claims, farmed fish are still contributing to the climate crisis. Read all about it in out Beach Buddy Hive area.

Turkey

Domesticated Turkeys cannot fly due to the crippling weight  gain from selective breeding, but in the wild, turkeys can in fact fly just like geese and ducks. They love forest floors and foraging and would alost be found in swamps and grassland. 

They are agile fast fliers, reaching speeds of 55mph, they can also run about 25 mph. Turkeys will nest in trees. They live in flocks and have pecking orders and their own social interactions and hierarchies. In spring males carry out a delightful mating dance, gobbling and puffing up, splaying their feathers in a vertical fan to attract a female. 

Females build nest on the ground and will lay 4-17 eggs, they look after them, turning them until they are able to turn themselves. When they hatch ‘Poults’ will follow their mum around much like ducklings.  The mother Turkey will stay with her babies, keeping them safe and warm until they are able to fly and nest up in the trees with her safely.

About 15 million turkeys are killed every year in the UK, 245 million in America! They are selectively bred to be abnormally large and are now nearly double the weight than they were in the 60’s. They grow to this size in double the time and this puts great strain on their bodies and often causes organ failure and death. Turkeys are too big to reproduce and are all now artificially inseminated by humans, the males are  held down, stimulated by hand and their seamen extracted, often using a suction hose that is operated by the worker sucking the pipe themselves to collect the seamen. It is then transferred into the female turkey in much the same way. 

Eggs that are laid are sent to hatcheries and chicks are de-beaked and have their toes cut off, this is to stop them from pecking and scratching at each other in their packed barns where thousands and thousands of turkeys can be living, tightly packed together with only about three square feet of space each for months on end, this is so stressful for the turkeys and they can die from stress by stopping eating. Turkey chicks who don’t make the grade are killed by suffocation, maceration in grinders or left to die.

Turkeys are then brutally manhandled out of these farms often ending up with broken legs and wings, thrown into cages and transported to slaughter houses where they are hung upside down, dragged through an electric water bath (which does not always stun them adequately or at all) and the next step is for their throats to be slit by an automatic blade that does not always work either and the birds are therefore scolded alive in the next process which is a scalding tank to remove their feathers. They are then butchered, processed and packaged ready for humans to buy and cook. 

For the most part are used for cheap processed meat options apart from Christmas and Thanksgiving where we display these abused, defenceless young animals, headless, on a plate as the centrepiece of our celebrations.

Pets are ultimately animals bred for selling, for making money, be it privately or in commercial setting. Such industries are open to abuse and cause overbreeding and culling. Lets look at Cats & Dogs as an example of some of the problems…

Cats & Dog’s bred in puppy and kitten mills or indeed privately can often end up on the streets or in shelters. 

Mills are perfectly legal and are where most pet stores get their cats and dogs from, however, it has been documented how these dogs and cats living conditions are crowded, water not clean, food not nutritious and animals are in cages being bred over and over again and often becoming very unwell without access to proper veterinary care. Once these dogs and cats are too weak and ill to be bred they are usually killed.

It is estimated that there are around 100,000 dogs in shelters here in the UK and an unknown number of cats. 6.5 million dogs and cats enter US shelters every year with millions being put to sleep every year when homes cant be found, around 4000-8000 dogs and cats each day in the US and 20,000 dogs each year here in the UK.

Dogs are also selectively bred to look a desired way and this is often to the detriment of the animals health. 

Thankfully these numbers in the UK are dropping as people become aware and are rescuing and re-homing pets rather than shopping for them.

Over 367 million animals are exploited for wool every year. Mostly sheep.  Suppliers purchase wool by the kilo and not by the hour so farmers and shearers work as fast as possible.  An investigation of more than 30 shearing sheds in the US and Australia and 25 here in the UK exposed shearers handling the sheep as if they were merely objects and with no legal protection to stop this, the sheep were handled so brutally that they were often ripped open by the sheers and farmers sewed them back up with no pain relief.

The legal standard practices involve other forms of suffering such as castration and tail docking and sheep will eventually be slaughtered for meat when they are five or six years old. We have selectively bred sheep to produce excessive amounts of wool to meet demand. Normally sheep would shed their wool in the summer months to keep cool, however we have altered these animals for monetary gain. Sheep will ruthlessly get shorn in the winter months so that humans can have nice warm jumpers and coats whilst the sheep have little or no protection against the freezing weather. This of course increases the rates of disease. 

Farmers in Australia carry out a process called Muelsing where they cut skin and flesh from the sheep’s tail and hind legs in order to prevent fly strike, an issue where flies lay eggs in the faeces which can get caught in this unnatural amount of excess wool. This is a brutal process in which sheep are forcibly held down and cut, the numbers and speed of ‘processing’ and the struggling animal often leads to a much bigger wound than necessary, sometimes even leading to prolapse. Footage of this has been exposed time and time again.

Sheep who are used for their wool are also used for breeding and in this is carried out artificially by a farmer forcibly  taking seamen from a ram and then clamping a ewe down on her back and making two incisions into her pelvic region where the seamen is inserted. 

Wool is the fourth most damaging fabric on the cradle to grave environmental impact chart.

The leather industry is responsible for the slaughter of over a billion animals world wide, cows, cats dogs, sheep, pigs, ostriches and millions of kangaroos are slaughtered for their skin to be turned into hand bags, shoes, sofas, wallets and car interiors.

Famous brands even use leather from unborn cows and lambs, generated by aborting pregnancies, the end product being considered a luxury item. There is also a demand for reptile leather. Alligators and crocodiles are kept in tight cramped conditions with little to no regulation. These animals are brutally murdered and are sometimes skinned alive. In fact it is a popular (and false) belief that snake skin is more subtle when taken from a live snake.

Some leather comes from the skin of cattle who have been used for their meat and flesh, it is referred to as a ‘co product’. The meat and dairy industry causes so much suffering, refer to our Cow & Dairy sections in the ‘Why Faithful Friend?’ drop down menu.

Despite billions of cows already being killed for food, leather is a separate industry altogether so despite popular belief, humans are certainly not ‘making use of all of the animal’ or ‘making sure an animal didn’t die in vain’ and doing the animal some sort of justice. The skin industry is yet another dark and brutal type of farming.

Most of the world’s leather is produced from India & China. Many parts of India forbid the killing of cows and therefore farmers brutally injure and mutilate the cows to get around the rules and have them classed fit for slaughter. On top of this they are forced to walk ‘the death march’ for many miles to a place where they can be legally slaughtered. They get so exhausted that they collapse and farmers rub chillies and salt into their eyes and break their tails in order to keep them awake and walking, they are then slaughtered and the skinning process commences immediately, sometimes before they are confirmed dead and all whilst other cows watch on in fear. This leather is sold to luxury and high street brands.

In China around 2 million dogs and cats are killed every year and sometimes incorrectly labelled which means that it is common for westerners to be wearing the skin of cats and dogs and not cows as they assume. If an item of clothing states that it is made in Italy, USA or any country for that matter, the raw materials could have come from anywhere and this is perfectly legal. In china pets have been found in the leather trade.

The chemicals used in turning skin to leather are so toxic that studies are demonstrating obvious links to cancer, skin diseases and heavily disabled children being born within the vicinity of these Tanneries. Workers often die before the age of fifty and child slave labour is common.

The environmental impacts of leather farming are huge too, livestock takes a huge amount of energy, food and water to be produced and creates methane greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming. Not only this but the chemicals used are often discarded in the rivers and lakes are then used by locals for drinking washing and devoid these lakes and rivers of natural life.

The cradle to grave environmental impact index deemed leather the most unsustainable fabric.

Every year around 1 billion animals are killed for their fur. This includes foxes, minks, chinchillas, rabbits and dogs. The animals are packed into tiny cages for their entire life, they will suffer psychologically and bite each other and self mutilate. ALL animals farmed for fur and even eyelashes are killed in brutal was such as gassing and neck breaking. Larger animals are often killed by being clamped down and having electric prods inserted into their mouths and anuses to cause death by cardiac fibrillation, this isn’t always instant and some have been knows to stay alive for thirty seconds after and suffer a heart attack so that the fur doesnt get spoilt by blood. Animals on fur farms are often skinned alive.

Seals are clubbed to death and bobcats and coyotes are caught in traps and eventually found and shot. Angora rabbits are hand plucked whilst they scream in pain as the longer plucked fibres mean more money.

840 million duck and geese a year are used for down feather production. Birds are often pinned down and live plucked. This happens to them repeatedly throughout their lives. It is also reported that the already horrifically abused, force fed birds of the Fios Gras industry sell the feathers of their birds to the down industry. The birds are also killed when they are no longer useful.

In France, ducks and geese are force fed by a process known as gavage, where birds are grabbed from inside tiny cages where they cant move, their beaks forced opened with one hand and a mixture of corn and fat pushed down their throats and into their stomachs with a funnel. This can cause violent trauma to the birds oesophagus which can be fatal.  The aim is to force liver disease, which will make the liver swell up to ten times it’s  natural size so that humans can slaughter them and sell the lived as a delicacy.

This was banned in the UK in 2000 but we still import Fios Gras from abroad, 98% from France. Thankfully Viva! Is doing incredible work getting places like Amazon to stop selling it and following a persistent campaign from Viva the Environment Minister told MP’s that it may become illegal to sell in the UK. 

Silk is the fibre that makes up the cocoons of silkworms. Ordinarily, silkworms, much like butterflies, would go through the process of metamorphosis and become a moth, however, silk farmers stop this process before the moths are able to form and emerge and instead boil the silkworms alive inside their cocoons whilst the  silk is extracted. 

Silk farmers selectively breed silkworms in order to make them faster and their cocoons larger. It is estimated that 1 trillion silkworms are killed every single year. 

Silk is the second least sustainable fabric due to its use of fossil fuels and global warming potential.

Just like animals, bees have a brain and a nervous system and have demonstrated signs of intelligence. In the commercial honey industry there are several unethical practices that are carried out on bees. Male bees are killed and their seamen extracted and artificially inseminated into the queen bee under restraint. The queen bee’s wings will often be clipped for identification and to prevent swarming which is when the bee colonies split into two separate colonies which reduces honey production – bad for business.

Queen bees can be purchased online, ready clipped and posted to you in an envelope. Entire bee hives can be posted worldwide in packaging boxes and this is a regular occurrence in the trade.

When the bees have produced all of the honey for human consumption, they are often killed off as it is cheaper to start over again the following year than to look after the existing bees through the winter. Bee culling is often carried out by pouring petrol on a hive and burning the bees alive, drowning or gassing. This is also common practice for bee colonies that are not displaying an acceptable temperament. Sometimes bees are trapped into bin bags and left in the sun to suffocate or over heat to death. Queen bees are often killed to depopulate the bees. 

To a bee, honey is food that they are making and storing for their colony for the winter months,  it is produced by them swallowing nectar, regurgitating it and repeating this many times. It takes about 12 worker bees their entire lifetime to produce a teaspoon full of honey. 

Some ‘ethical’ bee farmers will not cull the bees but replace the honey that they take from them with sugar water, however, this is deplete of many of the vital vitamins and nutrients that the bees require to be healthy. Selective breeding means that bees are at a significant risk of diseases and large scale die offs. Living conditions and stress make the bees more vulnerable to disease and many are infected with viruses and parasites that can spread to wild bees when they visit the same flower. Wild bee populations are now in competition with commercial bees for survival causing a decline and commercial bees are less effective pollinators than wild bees which are all having serious environmental impacts. 

There are some great alternatives to Honey like Maple Syrup and Agave Nectar. You can also find Vegan Honey that has been developed to recreate the flavour

PANDEMICS 

Factory farms provide the perfect environment for the rapid spread of diseases. An outbreak can infect an entire shed of 30,000 chickens within 72 hours to a week. This can spread during the thinning process (when sheds get over crowded and chickens are removed when they are smaller to sell on as lower weight chickens).

Campylobacter, one such disease, spreads to humans and is a common form of food poisoning in the UK. Cases increased in 2017, according to Defra, associated with the consumption of chicken and duck liver pate. E-coli and Salmonella cause serious food poisoning in humans.

A classic example of a zoonotic disease arising from chickens is Avian Influenza or bird flu. In 2003 a HN58 strain of bird flu in Holland led to the culling of 30 million chickens and in April 2020 there was an outbreak of the highly contagious HN58 strain circulating europe.

Like all virus’s bird flu is continually mutating, several strains that can affect humans are H5N1, H7N9 and H9N2. There are thousands and thousands of cases of these flu’s in farmed chicken and when they aren’t brought under control and effect humans, as we have seen with Covid 19, the results are devastating with high mortality rates. 

H5N1 is particularly worrying scientists as the mortality rate is a terrifying 60%, by contrast, seasonal flue kills about 0.1% of those infected. Globally more than 15,000 outbreaks of H5N1 has been reported among poultry (chickens, turkeys and geese) between 2005 and 2018. Cases in humans have come from the consumption of infected meat along with handling and slaughtering), since 2003 over 800 people have been infected with HN51 avian influenza and over 450 died of it. This may seem low, but if the virus mutates to become more easily able to be spread in  humans, we could be facing another pandemic, although this would be unlike something we have never seen before including the covid-19 pandemic. H5N1 could be 90 times more deadly should it run rampant in humans killing 6 out of 10 people infected as opposed to covid 19 which kills 0.6 percent of those infected. 

As of  2006 240 million birds died or were killed to prevent the virus spreading.

Intensely overcrowded conditions enable viruses to mutate and spread. Commercial poultry farms, wet markets, poultry slaughtering facilities, pig farms, human dietary habits and the global trade in exotic animals are all implicated in the spread of influenza or corona (named due to their crown like appearance) viruses.

There are over 200 zoonotic diseases and 56 of them effect some to and a half billion people and cause nearly three million deaths every year. Three out of four new emerging diseases come from our animals and many of our existing diseases came from animals including the common cold, flu, polio, AIDS, measles, MARS, SERS and Ebola.

Scientists have been warning for years of the impending global threat to human health from our mistreatment of animals, in 2008 Dr Greger MD, at the time a professor in infectious diseases (who now advocates the benefits of a vegan whole foods plant based diet through his non profit site nutritionfacts.org) stated that the biggest threat to human life is a flu like pandemic emerging from factory farms or suchlike. 

Cows are given all sorts of medication including antibiotics which end up in meat and therefore in humans. The growth of antibiotic-resistant superbugs is now a global threat to health and England’s Chief Medical Officer for Health, Professor Dame Sally Davis, claims that we are facing a ‘post-antibiotic apocalypse’.

Despite the pressure on livestock farmers to reduce their antibiotic use due to the global threat of antibiotic resistance at least one third of all antibiotic use in the UK is attributed to livestock.


To help some of our Faithful Friends we donate 10% of the sale of our jewellery to Surge and their awesome animal sanctuary and have adopted many animals past and present to help them see out a life of peace and freedom in beautiful sanctuaries. At present we are helping with two donkeys and a chicken who were destined for a much different future. Our donations will not only contributes to the care of these beautiful animals, they will also help these fantastic charities to continue researching, promoting and investing in this amazing work. We regularly visit our local sanctuary, Hopefield, in Brentwood, Essex and have financially helped them where we can and have also helped by donating jewellery for auctions and for their online charity shop to help raise funds.

Find out more about these wonderful charities here

https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary – Hopefield Animal Sanctuary

Chickpiece is so happy to be spreading the word and our personal donations not only contribute to the care of these beautiful animals, they also help these fantastic charities to continue researching, promoting and investing in this wonderful work. 

The information stated herein is not opinion but facts based on the best available science (August 2020)

Why Gentle Giant?

It is practically impossible to live a modern life where us humans do not disrupt insect life at all but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be mindful of our behaviour and attitudes when it comes to looking out for even the smallest of beings in our day to day lives.

Bees in particular are so important and play a vital role in our survival.

Whats the deal with Honey?

Just like animals, bees have a brain and a nervous system and have demonstrated signs of intelligence. In the commercial honey industry there are several unethical practices that are carried out on bees. Male bees are killed and their seamen extracted and artificially inseminated into the queen bee under restraint. The queen bee’s wings will often be clipped for identification and to prevent swarming which is when the bee colonies split into two separate colonies which reduces honey production – bad for business.

Queen bees can be purchased online, ready clipped and posted to you in an envelope. Entire bee hives can be posted worldwide in packaging boxes and this is a regular occurrence in the trade.

When the bees have produced all of the honey for human consumption, they are often killed off as it is cheaper to start over again the following year than to look after the existing bees through the winter. Bee culling is often carried out by pouring petrol on a hive and burning the bees alive, drowning or gassing. This is also common practice for bee colonies that are not displaying an acceptable temperament. Sometimes bees are trapped into bin bags and left in the sun to suffocate or over heat to death. Queen bees are often killed to depopulate the bees. 

To a bee, honey is food that they are making and storing for their colony for the winter months,  it is produced by them swallowing nectar, regurgitating it and repeating this many times. It takes about 12 worker bees their entire lifetime to produce a teaspoon full of honey. 

Some ‘ethical’ bee farmers will not cull the bees but replace the honey that they take from them with sugar water, however, this is deplete of many of the vital vitamins and nutrients that the bees require to be healthy. Selective breeding means that bees are at a significant risk of diseases and large scale die offs. Living conditions and stress make the bees more vulnerable to disease and many are infected with viruses and parasites that can spread to wild bees when they visit the same flower. Wild bee populations are now in competition with commercial bees for survival causing a decline and commercial bees are less effective pollinators than wild bees which are all having serious environmental impacts. 

There are some great alternatives to Honey like Maple Syrup and Agave Nectar. You can also find Vegan Honey that has been developed to recreate the flavour

The information stated herein is not opinion but facts based on the best available science (May 2021) The Sources: Please refer to our data source page for links to all of the original studies and data contained herein. We gather and collate our information from many different reputable sources including vegan charity Viva!

Why Happy Herbivore?

Unsurprisingly, nutrition is a favourite subject of ours here and is one of the factors that led us on our journey to the way of life that we now live by.  We are by no means Nutritionists, just normal people who feel passionate about making the best choices when it comes to the type of fuel that we put in our bodies! For so many reasons an organic whole foods plant based diet became the obvious choice for us and we have never felt better and be sure to ‘eat the rainbow’.

We are constantly inspired and it was our discovery of the wonderful Dr Gemma Newman that then led us to become proud members of The Plant Based Health Professionals who are striving to make important scientific data mainstream knowledge and re-write the way that Health Care Professionals are educated. 

“Plant-based health professionals UK is a Community Interest Company dedicated to providing education and advocacy on whole food plant-based nutrition for prevention and treatment of chronic disease. In addition to practicing conventional medicine, we are passionate about promoting health and well-being using whole food plant-based nutrition. There is no doubt that conventional medicine has resulted in some astonishing advances in patient care. However, the current model of healthcare in the UK focuses primarily on treating established disease, rather than emphasising interventions that could prevent or reduce the burden of chronic disease.”

Plant Based Health Professionals

We have huge respect for the work that PBHP are doing and watch with excitement as breakthroughs in this area become mainstream knowledge and become generally accepted & prescribed. For more information click here https://plantbasedhealthprofessionals.com/

Happy Herbivores also love Nutritionfacts.org and the amazing work of the inspirational Dr Greger, one of the first people that truly opened our eyes. His non-profit website Nutrionfacts.org presents the latest, best available scientific data in a no nonsense way.

Did you know…

When we bacame Vegan, we quickly found out that across the world, people choosing to eat a plant-based diet face the same questions time and again… Where do you get your protein? Are you sure you’re getting enough B12? What can you even eat… salad?! It’s clear to us now that such questions are usually the result of fairly common misconceptions about the ‘vegan’ diet and the reality is that everyone’s diet (including meat or otherwise) should be under scrutiny to make sure that it’s nutritionally balanced… not least the modern western diet, which is a huge contributing factor to the widespread chronic disease and obesity that is crippling our society and threatening our future (Source: World Health Organisation Report: Diet, nutrition & the preventation of chronic diseases)

‘Cutting out the middle man’… following a whole foods plant based diet has indeed meant us rejecting all animal produce (meat, dairy & eggs). This has opened our eyes to a wealth of otherwise over looked incredible sources of nutrients that contain all and more of the building blocks that we need and by eating them first hand we eliminate any of the inherint & added ‘extras’ that we definitley do not need (we are constantly surprised at what is deemed fit for human consumption!) We love nothing more than expirementing in the Kitchen with beautiful organic fresh produce, re creating our favourite dishes in a new way. It also makes us feel incredible knowing that we are true Faithful Friends to every little soul and not contributing to any suffering. By eating this way we are of course also helping to protect our planet as our Earth Child Identity represents.

The best available science is showning time and time again that a balanced whole food, plant based diet is very beneficial for our personal health and optimal for the health of our planet. It is now widely acknowledged by prominent health institutions (including The British Dietetic Association). There’s a huge amount of information out there on how to eat a balanced and well rounded WFPB diet (we’d suggest nutritionfacts.org or vegansociety.com as great places to start), but here are a few snippets that answered some of our questions when we first considered going Vegan…

B12

Vitamin B12 actually refers to a family of closely related molecules called the cobalmins, so named because they incorporate an ion of the element cobalt in their structure. This is the only known biological purpose of the element cobalt, which is why it is sometimes called an “ultratrace element” in the human diet. It’s crucial for our survival — every single cell in our body requires B12 to function properly. We need it to make fatty acids, amino acids and to replicate and repair DNA. The nervous system is especially dependent on B12 because many fatty acids are used to make myelin, the sheaths that wrap our neurons and nerve bundles.

Deficiencies of B12 cause an affliction called macrocytic anemia. This condition resembles some of the side effects of cancer chemotherapy and has the same root cause: Cells that are rapidly dividing are especially sensitive to impaired DNA synthesis. The stem cells in our bone marrow that generate blood cells are among the most actively dividing cells in the body, so when DNA synthesis is impaired, either by chemotherapeutic drugs or a vitamin B12 deficiency, we experience a drop in blood cell counts, zapping our energy and weakening our immune system. This condition can be life-threatening if it continues for too long.

This begs the question: If animal products are the only source of B12, how do herbivores survive?

Vegan animals harbor bacteria in their intestines that make vitamin B12 for them. This is a symbiosis of sorts where the herbivores provide a steady supply of food and dirt (even excrement) that the bacteria thrive and excrete B12 that the herbivores then absorb.

Humans have a similar sort of relationship with bacteria that produce vitamin K for us. You’ve likely never heard of it because we don’t have to worry about consuming this particular vitamin. Instead, several different bacterial species that live in our large intestine make and excrete vitamin K and we absorb it from there. Because vitamin K is crucial for blood clotting, we would be in big trouble if not for this symbiosis in our gut. In fact, one of the side effects of a sustained course of strong antibiotics is impaired blood clotting, as the antibiotics wipe out our intestinal bacteria and we experience a temporary deficiency in vitamin K.

It would seem helpful if we had the same set-up with B12 — and we actually do. In fact, many of the same bacteria that make vitamin K for us also produce B12. So what’s the problem?

It turns out to be a case of bad plumbing. The bacteria that make this nutrient for us live in our large intestine, but we are only capable of absorbing it in our small intestine. Because the small intestine comes before the large intestine in the flow of gastrointestinal traffic, we end up sending the B12 that our gut bacteria produce right to the toilet, rather than absorbing it. 

A study did find that human fecal matter is indeed high enough in cobalmins to serve as an adequate dietary source of vitamin B12.

Most primates are herbivorous and indeed all of our fellow apes subsist on a fully or mostly plant-based diet. It is therefore likely that we descend from a long line of vegans. During the millions of years our ancestors thrived on plants, they surely were able to capture the vitamin B12 that was being made by bacteria in their guts, or else they wouldn’t have survived. Once our forebears began scavenging meat and bone marrow, they found themselves with a steady supply of dietary vitamin B12, which then grew in abundance when we began to hunt. It is widely accepted that it would have been been during this meat-eating stage in our evolution that we began to absorb B12 in the small intestine instead of the large one. We are now stuck with this odd arrangement.

Beacuse of this, consuming dietray B12 second hand through eating animals has been accepted as the next best way for generations of humans to obtain B12. But it is not the only, or indeed the best way.

Evolution is not a straight path toward an ever more perfect form. There are zigs and zags and plenty of quirks that manage to escape the watchful eye of natural selection. Our relationship with B12 is just one of the many idiosyncrasies that make us unique, for better or worse. Modern day decisions and lifestyles have meant that humans often need to supplement all kinds of things to acheive optimal health.

The decisions that we make as a species are dictating our evolutionary patterns and destinies in this modern age rather than the othe way round.

Just like other supplements, B12 can be perfectly well supplemented in a vitamin form and a study suggested that most humans actually get most B12 from fortified foods like breakfast cereals these days, in fact, because vegans pay so much attention to this, they are showing to have better stocks of B12 than meat eaters.

Modern standards actually now dictate that for there to be enough B12 in animals bred for consumption, they themselves need to be given a B12 supplement in their feed.

Vegans cut out the middle man and consume A wide variety of vegan staples (milk alternatives, non dairy yogurts, cheeses, yeasts, spreads and cereals) that are fortified with B12 and a good vegan vitamin– making it easy to get more than enough, there are also stand alone supplements and nutritional yeast but of course if you are worried, see a nutritionist like we did when we went vegan. Source: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics The Vegan Society

Protein

There’s always a lot of fuss when it comes to protein. The most commonly accepted wisdom is that you need to eat meat (usually chicken) or eggs to stand any chance of hitting the required daily amount. Many people can far exceed the recommended daily intake (vegetarians and vegans included), be that through the general over-consumption of meat in the standard western diet, or in the alternative sources that underpin a plant based diet (tofu, beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, kale, spinach, broccoli etc). As long as you get your protein from a variety of sources (to make sure you’re getting all of your essential amino acids), then a lack of protein simply won’t be a problem. Sources: www.vrg.org Veganhealth.org

What we’ve learnt about inflammation

Meat, dairy and eggs trigger an inflammatory reaction inside our bodies within hours of consumption. This will persist for a few hours before subsiding, but the regularity of our meals, and the prevalence of these products in the the western diet means that we are perpetually subjecting our bodies to inflammation.

Under normal circumstances, inflammation is a necessary response by our bodies to fight off unwanted intruders – bacteria, damaged cells, chemical irritants. It’s an immune response. Unfortunately, too much inflammation is a major contributing factor in many of today’s most common chronic diseases and terminal illnesses.

Following a whole food, plant based diet is actually anti-inflammatory. In fact, replacing animal protein with plant based protein will not only reduce your bodies inflammatory responses, it will keep your microbiome balanced, your arteries free from cholesterol and you will no longer be exposed to the intake of hormones, cleaning agents (bleach!) and more importantly constant exposure to the antibiotics given to animals to suppress disease in factory farms, which in turn increases your own resistance to their benefits (which is a whole other rather frightening story!). Source: Plant Based Health Professionals UK

PANDEMICS 

Factory farms provide the perfect environment for the rapid spread of diseases. An outbreak can infect an entire shed of 30,000 chickens within 72 hours to a week. This can spread during the thinning process (when sheds get over crowded and chickens are removed when they are smaller to sell on as lower weight chickens).

Campylobacter, one such disease, spreads to humans and is a common form of food poisoning in the UK. Cases increased in 2017, according to Defra, associated with the consumption of chicken and duck liver pate. E-coli and Salmonella cause serious food poisoning in humans.

A classic example of a zoonotic disease arising from chickens is Avian Influenza or bird flu. In 2003 a HN58 strain of bird flu in Holland led to the culling of 30 million chickens and in April 2020 there was an outbreak of the highly contagious HN58 strain circulating europe.

Like all virus’s bird flu is continually mutating, several strains that can affect humans are H5N1, H7N9 and H9N2. There are thousands and thousands of cases of these flu’s in farmed chicken and when they aren’t brought under control and effect humans, as we have seen with Covid 19, the results are devastating with high mortality rates. 

H5N1 is particularly worrying scientists as the mortality rate is a terrifying 60%, by contrast, seasonal flue kills about 0.1% of those infected. Globally more than 15,000 outbreaks of H5N1 has been reported among poultry (chickens, turkeys and geese) between 2005 and 2018. Cases in humans have come from the consumption of infected meat along with handling and slaughtering), since 2003 over 800 people have been infected with HN51 avian influenza and over 450 died of it. This may seem low, but if the virus mutates to become more easily able to be spread in  humans, we could be facing another pandemic, although this would be unlike something we have never seen before including the covid-19 pandemic. H5N1 could be 90 times more deadly should it run rampant in humans killing 6 out of 10 people infected as opposed to covid 19 which kills 0.6 percent of those infected. 

As of  2006 240 million birds died or were killed to prevent the virus spreading.

Intensely overcrowded conditions enable viruses to mutate and spread. Commercial poultry farms, wet markets, poultry slaughtering facilities, pig farms, human dietary habits and the global trade in exotic animals are all implicated in the spread of influenza or corona (named due to their crown like appearance) viruses.

There are over 200 zoonotic diseases and 56 of them effect some to and a half billion people and cause nearly three million deaths every year. Three out of four new emerging diseases come from our animals and many of our existing diseases came from animals including the common cold, flu, polio, AIDS, measles, MARS, SERS and Ebola.

Scientists have been warning for years of the impending global threat to human health from our mistreatment of animals, in 2008 Dr Greger MD, at the time a professor in infectious diseases (who now advocates the benefits of a vegan whole foods plant based diet through his non profit site nutritionfacts.org) stated that the biggest threat to human life is a flu like pandemic emerging from factory farms or suchlike. 

Cows are given all sorts of medication including antibiotics which end up in meat and therefore in humans. The growth of antibiotic-resistant superbugs is now a global threat to health and England’s Chief Medical Officer for Health, Professor Dame Sally Davis, claims that we are facing a ‘post-antibiotic apocalypse’.

Despite the pressure on livestock farmers to reduce their antibiotic use due to the global threat of antibiotic resistance at least one third of all antibiotic use in the UK is attributed to livestock.

The information stated herein is not opinion but facts based on the best available science (May2021 ) see our data source page here. Sources for reference: Nutritionfacts.org/Plant Based Health Professionals/Forks Over Knives/British Dietetic Association/The Vegan Society/Viva!

Why Well Being?

We will struggle to look after our planet, or anyone else for that matter, unless we are healthy, happy individuals. Its so important to nurture your own health both physically and mentally and that can be hard.

We believe that mindset is key. Finding the time, prioritising our own mental and physical health as much as everything else in our day to day lives is vital to our wellness and as we have discovered, can make great difference to our quality and longevity of life.

We have found that having a great daily routine is half the battle and keeping mindful as much as possible in all that we do is so beneficial.

Sometimes in our lives, no matter what we do, we may experience mental health issues, especially in this day and age of over saturation and bombardment of information.

Low mood can take the wind out of our sails at any time but if persistent we may need a helping hand to help us back to our best selves and we are so grateful for amazing charities like Mind who are there for each and every one of us should we need them.

Just as we can pull a muscle in our leg or back, we can over stretch our brains too, not being able to see something doesn’t mean its not a very real and important issue that needs the right kind of care and treatment to get better.

At present we make personal donations to Mind and are planning to become regular donators from proceeds of our Well Being charm sales as soon as possible*

I, like too many of us, have suffered from low mood, anxiety and was once diagnosed with full on clinical depression. I know how hard it can be trying to live with a mental illness but there is support out there and alongside what my doctor was prescribing, something that really helped with my recovery back to full health was reading and understanding my biological make up and finding ways that I could influence my mental health by changing my habits and the way that I lived my life.

I am not an expert nor am I medically trained, but I’d like to tell you about some of the empowering information that I discovered and now strive to in-cooperate into my daily routine to keep my body strong and healthy and to keep the ‘Black Dog’ at bay and in the hope that it may help other people to start to feel better like it did for me. ”

Carla- Founder of Chickpiece.

Did you Know…

Survival of the fittest – There is now irrefutable evidence that regular physical activity is effective in preventing several chronic diseases & mental health issues. Studies have even suggested that exercise is so important that not walking or doing some other form of moderate exercise for an hour a day is considered high risk behaviour alongside smoking, drinking and being obese. Exercise has been shown that it can be as affective as drug interventions in the treatment of heart disease, stroke and diabetes adding years to your life and life to your years! –https://nutritionfacts.org/video/longer-life-within-walking-distance/Michael Greger M.D. FACLM 

Mind body Connection – There is a nerve, the Vagus nerve, which runs directly from our brain to our chest and to our stomach and even to our immune system. The Vagus nerve is like the ‘hard wired’ connection that allows our brain to turn down inflammation within our body. When you hear about the ‘mind body connection’ that’s what the Vagus nerve is and does. Yoga, QiGon & Zen are all practices that promote ways of opening up the Vagal path ways. Practicing slow breathing (five seconds in, five seconds out whilst breathing shallowly and naturally in between) for a few minutes a day, has been shown to have long lasting effects not only on the rest of your day but on a number of medical and emotional disorders. – Source: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-to-strengthen-the-mind-body-connection/Michael Greger M.D. FACLM 

It’s not ‘all in your head’- As Dr Tim Cantopher explains in his best selling book- if you were to carry out a lumber puncture on the spine of a person with clinical depression, you would find that they are actually deficient in chemicals that are normally present in quite large quantities in a healthy brain (thought to be Seretonin, Noradrenolin, Dopamine and the hormone Melatonin) Dr Cantopher goes on to explain in his fascinating book that these chemicals run around the limbic system, the circuit that runs around the brain, which is responsible for controlling and balancing many of the bodies processes such as sleep-wake cycles, temperature, temper, eating patterns and hormones, in fact every hormone in the human body is controlled by the limbic system. The limbic systems most important function is to control mood. If the limbic system is taken beyond it’s designed limits for example when a person is over stressed, it will malfunction. The result is a very real and very physical problem where the nerve endings in the circuit are no longer producing enough chemicals for the signals to travel through and the result is the limbic system grinding to a halt and the sufferer feeling an overwhelming, sustained state of sadness, stress, disgruntlement or even nothing at all. The idea that Depression is an ailment of the weak couldn’t be further from the truth, the illness is thought to be caused by taking on more than your brain can cope with and in fact, some of the worlds most famous geniuses suffered with mental health issues including Albert Einstein, Charles Dickens and Sigmund Freud himself! – Dr Tim Cantopher, Depression: The Curse of the Strong.

The information stated herein is not our opinion but facts based on the best available science (August 2020) Sources for reference: Nutritionfacts.org/Dr Tim Cantopher Depression: The Curse of The Strong. We are not medically trained. You should always consult your gp before making any dietary changes or changes to your exercise regime.