‘Don’t tell me that! I’ll never go to Nando’s again’

‘Don’t tell me that! I’ll never go to Nando’s again’

Animal Welfare Party Member and site content editor Alex Lockwood challenges the Radio 5 Live DJ and journalist Nicky Campbell on his response to hearing this morning that chickens are sociable, intelligent creatures. Members views are their own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Animal Welfare Party.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

‘Don’t tell me that! I’ll never go to Nando’s again,’ said Nicky Campbell, Radio 5 Live DJ and animal lover this morning at around 7.56am. It was in response to an item on the Radio 5 breakfast show when the director of Omlet, the company behind the backyard hen house, the eglu, and now a hi-vis jacket for chickens crossing the road, was asked if chickens provide any companionship as pets.

‘You’re doing the chicken a disservice,’ said Johannes Paul, the director of Omlet. ‘Chickens are great companions, they’re sociable, they come to the sound of your voice, they…’

‘Don’t say that!’ shouted Nicky. He then actually went ‘La La La La La…’ so as not to hear anything else the Omlet director said about the intelligence, sociability and sentient behaviour of the chicken.

It was half tongue in cheek, but there it was. The too-common response to the knowledge of cruelty and injustice towards animals: I don’t want to know. La la la la la. Rather than listen, and face the terrible knowledge of who, not what, these nonhuman animals are, and what we do to them, it’s so much easier to maintain the dissociation.

It’s a strange one for Nicky Campbell. On his Twitter account, he calls himself an animal lover and re-tweets the stories of animal abuse from other Twitter followers.

If you are an animal lover, Nicky, I’d like to challenge you to think about the chicken in the way you think about your dog or cat. Just for five minutes. Think about the reasons not to eat chickens. Can you do it?

For many it can take strength of will to overcome all those obstacles to knowing–and feeling–what happens to the animals that are consumed for food and products. It is difficult, for so many reasons, but we as humans are good at cognitive dissonance.

To begin to face the truth about nonhuman animals, particularly those used for food, is to acknowledge your role in their ill treatment and abuse, before turning to a plant-based diet. That can be an emotionally traumatic process.

But small steps. As Johannes Paul pointed out, chickens are now in the top 10 pets kept in the UK. They are kept for companionship as well as by those people who want to harvest their eggs, often as a way to bypass the cruelty inherent in the egg industry. That means more people are living with chickens and seeing their personalities and having to face the reality of eating chicken, perhaps the most hard-done by of all the farmed animals we as a human species consume.

So, Nicky, I see you are an animal lover – on only the first page of your Twitter feed you talk passionately about elephants, foxes, dogs, cats, tigers, orangutans… But what about chickens? Maybe you might stop visiting chicken restaurants when you think about each chicken as an individual with a personality, who would come running to the sound of your voice, even if you were singing ‘la la la’.

UPDATE 10am: Nicky replies: “I was, perhaps clumsily, trying to make the point that many do NOT think it thru”. Thanks Nicky, I agree, many people do not think about the individual animal they are eating.

This post was written by
Alex Lockwood is a writer, academic and vegan. He volunteers with AWP and manages the content on the site.

9 Comments on "‘Don’t tell me that! I’ll never go to Nando’s again’"

  • I love animals and used to Veer between vegetarian and eating just chicken and fish for too many years. I am now a Vegan,,well sort of, as I eat the eggs my rescue chickens lay, but nothing else, no cheese , butter or milk products.I don’t support any industry that test on or use animal products.
    When people find out my views they regard me as odd ( which I am ) but the most infuriating thing is they either try to educate me to eat animals and their produce, or else I will get ill, or tell me that humans have always eaten creatures , that is why God put them here for…DUH! poor old God he gets blamed for all human creatures weaknesses.
    The strange reaction / answer I get when I say what’s the difference between eating your pet cat or dog to eating a cow as they are all flesh like humans are…Is a funny look saying ‘ she’s as mad as a bucket of bees , and the retort ….Well pets are not meant to be eaten …stupid !!!

  • Thanks Yvonne, and I’m glad you’ve moved to a plant-based diet. And you are not odd to do so – you are one of the ever-growing number of people choosing a cruelty free life.

  • Sally May says

    I am working very hard towards being totally vegan and I think I’m about 95% there. My biggest problem is that I have a cat and feel I will never be able to consider myself a total vegan as long as she is sharing life with me. I found her living in my garden shed, starving, terrified and aggressive. Spending hours and hours in the shed, with her, it took me a year to gain her trust. But, of course, she eats meat and this preys on my conscience every time I feed her. I’ve tried giving her vegan cat food and she just won’t tolerate it. The dilemma is that my compassion for Rosie has cancelled out my compassion for farm animals and I find it very hard to reconcile myself with that.

  • Alexander Hawkeswood says

    Have you tried the tinned pet food Benevo Duo? It’s suitable for both cats and dogs. This very healthy recipe is available from veggiepets.com

  • Liana Cavalcanti says

    Sally May, I’m a vegan with a cat too, and when I’ve made the transition to veganism (3 years ago) I’ve took my cat on the same transition. I was giving her AmiCat (vegan cat food) but it wasn’t so good for her as she was having upset tummy, I’ve changed then to Benevo cat food (vegan too) that is dry food and I give her some vegourmet (wet food, looks like a big sausage – from vegusto) and I mix a bit of vegecat (powder supplement for vegan cats) on the wet food so I don’t feel I’m neglecting her nutritionally in anything. I get all these vegan cat food/supplement from http://www.veggiepets.co.uk

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