Uncouped!

We're Golden, Chicken Pair

“We’re Golden” oil painting by Amy Hautman

On New Year’s Day my sister told me that she and her partner were going vegan for the new year. I was SO excited that my lifestyle had finally rubbed off on them. I knew this would help them with health issues and to lose weight (not to mention all the animals that would be spared).

Then this morning my sister called and excitedly spurt, “Guess what I got?”

I’d been telling her for months to get a Vitamix blender so she could make green smoothies and other healthy stuff, so I said, “A Vitamix?”

“Noooo…it’s something living and I got three of them.”

My sister has four dogs, a cat and, but she’s a sucker for rescuing animals in need, so my second guess was, “Puppies?”

“No…remember how I told you I wanted to get a chicken coup so I could have fresh eggs? Well, I just picked up three chickens. They’re sooooo cute!”

I remembered, but I thought that idea had gone away with her vegan transition. Now I knew that what had gone by the wayside was her New Year’s Resolution. Sigh.

I suppose that raising chickens for eggs is more humane than purchasing eggs that come from chickens raised on factory farms, but I was still disappointed. At the same time, I don’t judge my sister. I know that will only turn her off. Besides, by raising chickens she may form a bond with them that will make her less inclined to eat them and their eggs in the future.

Uncouped!

Shortly after talking to my sister, I read a blog comment from Diahann from Stories from the Belly. She wrote that she and her boyfriend went to Uncouped, a powerful exhibit about chickens at the Museum of Animals.

This exhibit explores our common perceptions of chickens and contrasts these stereotypes with studies of chickens’ complex behavior, cognition, and emotions, as well as the realities of life for the 40 billion chickens found on farmsteads. I plan to see this exhibit, and maybe even drag my sis there, and if you’re in Los Angeles I hope you’ll check it out too.

Painting credit

“We’re Golden” courtesy of Amy Hautman Paintings.

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About celestedimilla

Hey there. I’m Celeste, California girl, writer, psychotherapist and burgeoning plant-based foodie.
This entry was posted in Animal Welfare, Daily Life, Health and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Uncouped!

  1. Hi Celeste, it was interesting to read this today because there has been a growing trend in Montreal with urban farming and many people are trying to raise chickens for eggs. The sad part is, the majority of people don’t realize that chickens are sensitive and smart animals that require extensive care, so our local SPCA is seeing a growing number of abandoned hens and roosters. It’s a huge commitment, and I don’t think many people think of the fact that these animals can live up to ten years after they stop laying eggs.
    I’m curious about the exhibit, wish I could see it!

  2. How interesting! I actually have a friend who raises chickens for the eggs and she definitely has grown a bond with them and refuses to eat chicken. It’s a very interesting thing to hear about!

  3. I don’t eat eggs but if someone lovingly raises chickens and cares for them (clearly your sister loves animals!) I find it a little easier to understand why they’d choose to eat eggs.

    There won’t be any male chicks harmed in the process and I’m already pretty sure that your sister and her partner will not eat chicken again. Once you’ve lived with an animal and have seen their personality and character it’s hard to blank that out when you’re in front of the meat isle in the supermarket.

    • Thanks for your lovely comment! I hope you’re right that my sis and her partner will stop eating chicken – we’ll see. Thanks SO much for reading – I appreciate it! Celeste πŸ™‚

  4. Hi Celeste, I understand how you feel. I guess our mission is to keep trying to change attitudes and habits. When I post something on Facebook about nonhuman animal rights, I get no response, but when I post a cute picture of one of my cats, people respond. The silence gets to me sometimes. Take care!
    anne

  5. Kris says:

    I had never heard of this museum until I read your article- I must go check out The National Museum Of Animals And Society asap. Thank your for sharing! xo

  6. Celeste's Sister says:

    Well we have already named our three beautiful hens… Penny, Bolt (my neice named those two) and Chicken Nugget;)

    • Hey sis! You get highlighted on my little blog a lot!!! Chicken Nugget???? I hope that’s not what the poor thing is destined to become! Anywho, hope you have a great week! πŸ™‚

  7. Paula says:

    Chickens! Cool! You’re right, it’s a lot more humane than what the chickens have to endure producing on a large scale. πŸ™‚ someone, who I thought was a vegetarian, was not. when i asked her about eating meat, she said, “It’s the energy of the meat you eat”. I thought that is so right. As much as I think about energy, I had never thought of it like that. i would say most, if not all the meat in supermarkets have bad energy as the animals are usually treated inhumanely, or anything the animals produce, like eggs, milk. I started giving all my food Reiki before I eat it. πŸ™‚ My funds do not allow me to be as picky about my food as I would like to be.

    • Hey there Paula! I’ve heard about the “energy” thing with meat too. I remember reading about it somewhere, but I can’t put my finger on exactly where. I’m intrigued by Buddhism, and I think it was in one of the Buddhist books I have. It would take a huge shift in thinking for most people to consider the “energy” in what they eat. It would be cool if people thought about it this way, however; because they would have to actually think about how the animals they eat were raised. Thanks for bringing this up – it’s an interesting line of thought. Celeste πŸ™‚

  8. I think going vegan overnight is a hard thing to do. Many people do what we did, ie cut out meat, then chicken, then fish, and then dairy/eggs. Plus the reasoning can affect your strength of mind too. There is quite a difference doing for health compared with animal welfare and/or the environment.

    If I was recommending a change in diet to people, much as I would prefer them to do it overnight, I would suggest little by little. It’s a very complex change and a total adjustment in thinking.

    Having said that, I don’t knock your sister for buying chickens, I hope they have enough space and if they are cooped ( 😦 ) that they get chance to move around, and the coop gets moved to different areas of grass. Ours have a huge shed and an open air run. They need more space than people say. I’m not bothered about the eggs, but Partner likes them from time to time. I’m not getting divorced over eggs πŸ˜€ Our longest living chicken – Jimena – was around ten, she was a darling. Our cockerel – El – is probably coming up to that. Their longevity really varies, but well looked after, with lots of space, and a varied balanced diet, they can live a long time.

    I can’t get worked up about eggs from chickens that are well-treated. It’s better than the dairy industry abuse. It’s hard to influence people about anything, whether it is diet, rescuing animals, consumerism, environmental impact, politics and religion (two minefields!!) so the most I hope for is to try and get people to think about dishing up more than a lettuce sandwich for vegetarians. qv:
    http://wp.me/p22GQH-hI

    • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with this. Adopting a vegan lifestyle is a challenging transition, one that few people can make overnight. When my husband and I went vegan, we only did it on Monday – Friday for the first few months. Even this felt overwhelming at first because I didn’t know any vegan recipes. Everything I made was an experiment and often involved new foods like quinoa and nutritional yeast. After I learned about 10 quick and easy recipes, things got easier and that’s when we made the full transition.

      Anyway, thank you for reminding me about how I had to take things one step at a time in the beginning. I have to remember this when it comes to my sister. I think she’s made some steps in the right direction, and I should be congratulating her for that. Every step is important. And every step makes a difference.

      And you’re SO right that it’s hard to influence people about anything! When I first went vegan, I thought if I just explained to people all of the amazing reasons why I did this that they would consider going vegan too. I was so naΓ―ve!!!! Celeste πŸ™‚

  9. diahannreyes says:

    I can relate to your sister’s going back and forth about the issue. I will say that going to the museum really woke me up to the plight of animals-chickens esp. in a new way- and there was a particular display that introduced me to ecofeminism, which I didn’t even know existed. Glad you were able to introduce the museum to your readers.

    • I went back and forth about going vegan for a long time too. It’s a BIG transition that takes effort. I’m glad I finally took the plunge, but I get why not everyone does.Thank you so much for sharing about the museum chica!! I don’t know when I’ll be able to get there, but I will. Celeste πŸ™‚

  10. Laura says:

    I love this – my mom collects chickens/roosters (in art)!

  11. Ramona P says:

    I think your non-judgmental attitude does a lot to help others feel comfortable with where they are in their personal journey towards eating fewer/no animals. You clearly have made an impact on them.

    • Hey Ramona! Thanks so much for your thoughtful words – I appreciate it! I try hard not to judge people for anything (I’m certainly not perfect, however!). I know that when I was eating meat if someone judged me for it, it would have made me less likely to listen to them and consider their lifestyle. Who am I to judge anyway? I ate meat for the vast majority of my life.

      Have a great week! Celeste πŸ™‚

  12. I have a vegan friend who had chickens. She adores them. She refers to them as “the ladies”. She gives away the majority of the eggs and eats one herself on occasion. Her hens were very old and not laying anymore for a long time. Then she lost one and was so upset she got three more. Now she has three that lay. They are funny, they follow her around an will greet you at her gate. One turns around and sticks it’s butt toward me so I will scratch it (ummmm, no, sorry.) Personally, they freak me out a little, but they are her babies.

    • How interesting! I have to tell you that my sis seems to love her chickens. I still haven’t seen them, but I’m sure I will soon. Hehe – that’s funny that the chickens freak you out a little. I wonder how I’m gonna feel when I meet my sister’s chickens. We’ll see! Celeste πŸ™‚

  13. reocochran says:

    I enjoyed this post, for its lovely painting of the golden chicken and the humor you show. I hope that your sister and you can stay close despite the differences in approaches on eating. I am so glad you haven’t ‘banned’ me from your comments, Celeste! I am very different from your other commenters, but have 2 good reasons to stay connected: I like you and I also have a daughter who needs to know more about this. It may end up saving her joints from arthritis! Smiles, Robin

    • Hey Robin! My sis and I are very close, and I don’t think anything will tear us apart. We are very different people, that’s for sure! I think this is a good thing because opens us up to a greater understanding of people who are different from us. I would never stop loving my sis or anyone else because they’re not vegan. If I did that I’d be a lonely person because most people I know eat meat. I actually have a lot of omnivore followers and I LOVE this!

      I’ve said it before, but I’m delighted that you read my posts, and the fact that you eat meat doesn’t matter to me. Of course, I’d love for you (and everyone, for that matter) to go vegan, but that’s unlikely to happen. That’s okay. I’m just gonna keep blogging and if I encourage a few people to consider veganism, then I feel good about that. I’m SO glad we’ve connected through our blogs chica! Celeste πŸ™‚

    • reocochran says:

      Thanks so much, Celeste! I am just a little worrier, don’t take me seriously, I know you like me!
      I do eat mostly vegetables during the week, due to a budget and also, concerns about cholesterol. I posted a vegetarian lasagna, but not a vegan one, since this was served for a Lenten meal at our church. I am definitely on your side and glad we are friends.
      You are my muy bien chica!! (and one of my many ‘sisters’ in the blogging community!) Smiles, Robin

  14. Hi Celeste, email me if you plan on going to the muesam. Maybe we can meet up there and have a vegan lunch somewhere nearby.

  15. Hopefully your sister will only eat their eggs. I doubt, if she’s any sort of sensitive at all, that she would eat the hens once she finds how loving they are. It’s said that chickens are one of the few animals that see in color and have REM, meaning that, yes they dream. What they dream is anyone’s guess.

    • Hey there Peter! Thanks for your thoughtful comment and for following me too – I appreciate it. My sister is sensitive and has a soft spot for animals, so I’m hopeful. And interesting facts about chickens. Have a great week. Celeste πŸ™‚

  16. I’m sure your heart sank. But I think you are right not to judge – it just is a turn-off. And maybe if your sister reads this post…

  17. I am very familiar with that sinking feeling. Few years ago, when my husband and I went macrobiotic, I wanted for my parents to accept this healthier diet. And for few years they went along with it, but it seemed that it always was a bit unnatural to them, especially went my hubby and I went vegan. They continued eating fish, and lately more “non-vegan” products in their diet. For a while, I felt disappointed, but then I realized if they are happier like this, that is all that matters. Still, they eat better than they used to before.

    • I find it challenging to watch my family members eat foods that I know are bad for them (especially when many of them have type 2 diabetes and other issues related to diet). When I first went vegan, I thought if I just told people about the bennies of a vegan lifestyle that they’d change. I was SO naΓ―ve! I’ve come to accept that I might make an impact on a few people, but not that many. I’m okay with this now. I figure it’s better to help some people than no people. And in your situation with your parents, you’ve helped them to eat healthier than how they were eating before. That’s something – you’ve made a difference. That’s more than a lot of people can say. Thanks for your comment! Celeste πŸ™‚

  18. Hi Celeste,
    I have kept hens and roosters for years. Each and every one has lived a full life and been given a decent burial when their time has come. No-one in my family has ever thought of eating them. They’re part of the family. They all have names and live in the lap of luxury. They give us a lot of pleasure, are highly intelligent, friendly and each has its own personality. Chickens can be exceedingly pretty and colourful, too, and will enhance any garden in summer. We all love watching ours roaming on the grass.
    For those who wish to eat proper free range eggs, this is the ideal way to do it. You know the eggs you are eating come from cared for chickens. And, you know how old these eggs are. For those who don’t eat eggs, there will always be friends and neighbours who will appreciate the gift of some genuinely fresh free range eggs.
    I think your sister made a great choice. If you have the space, I highly recommend your getting some, too, Celeste. Remember – you don’t have to eat them.
    And, I don’t know if it is the same in the US, but in the UK you can adopt battery hens and give them a new life of freedom and love. Have a great rest of the week. ~ Amelia πŸ™‚

    • Hey Amelia! Thanks for your thoughtful comment chica – I appreciate it. It’s wonderful to hear how much you love your chickens and that you treat them so well. I know my sister will treat her chickens well too (she sounds quite taken with them!). I am curious if this will keep her from eating chicken too, we’ll see.

      My husband and I only have a postage stamp size backyard, so we couldn’t even consider raising chickens. I am curious about my sister’s chickens, however; since I’ve never been around any before. It will be interesting to see what they’re like. I also like your suggestion to adopt battery hens. I’ll keep that in mind if I know of anyone who might be interested.

      Have a lovely day! Celeste πŸ™‚

  19. Shannon says:

    Yeah, I guess there’s ALWAYS something better than the alternative. But I’m guessing, with her hens, there were at least an equal number of cocks that *ahem* didn’t quite make the cut. All I can think about is the screw conveyor, and live chicks being tossed in.

    PS — All animals are wired for two things: to survive (i.e. eat) and to reproduce. She’s probably keeping them fed, but did she think to get her hens a rooster to keep them “happy?”

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