If you don’t go vegetarian, you have to choose what meat to eat.
A) What about chicken?
Factory-farmed chicken are feed
- fishmeal provided by one of those Monsterboats (thus destroying the ocean) or
- grain and soy (often genetically modified) from South America (thus destroying the savannah in Brasil and increasing climate change).
Adding the impact of forage transportation using fossil fuel and the fact that the chicken are heavily medicated with antibiotics to survive their living conditions, it should be a no-brainer to not eat this kind of meat.
It would be better to choose meat from organic chicken instead – if you have access to them and can afford them. They are raised more humane with free-range space and longer lifes. Their nutritional value is higher. But often they are at least additionally corn-fed. By rule in Germany, 50 to 80% of their feed may come from far away, thus their transportation contribute to climate change, too. It is disturbing that forage from the other side of the world is cheaper than local feed. Sometimes, the meat comes from abroad, for instance from China, to allow lower prices even for organic chicken meat or organic chicken meat products.
We seldom use the entire chicken. Chicken breast is the most coveted part of the chicken (resulting in breeding bizarre animals), followed by drumsticks and wings – the rest get dumped or used for composite dishes like chicken nuggets. My children love them, but I consider them inferior meat. But taking food waste into account – should it not be o.k., or even necessary, to use every part?
I try to reduce meat in our diet. If I reduce the portion of meat on the plate or serve it not as often, I can afford organic chicken (I can only find ones that costs 4 times more than factory-farmed chicken).
If I buy one, I buy an entire chicken and use every part of it. I separate the breast, wings and drumsticks first and simmer the rest for chicken stock and meat scraps to add to other chicken dishes.
If I find reduced food due to nearing pull date, I buy it and process it immediately, thus saving money and reducing food waste, too. I’m truly thankful for my freezer.
As of late, we can buy eggs from a special chicken farm (as mentioned here). The laying hen grows slowly the old-fashioned way, and at the end of its life we will get one as boiling hen. We are lucky to have this option.
But how about vegetarian alternatives?
If you have children, food choosing isn’t easy. They don’t eat everything. I recently found a meat replacement dish called “VegiDeli Chicken Style Pieces” that even my sensitive son likes. It is a highly processed composition of grain, soy, vegetable oil, condiments and so on, reminding me of a certain French film starring Louis de Funes. Often, meat replacement dishes use soy from Brasil or palm oil from Indonesia, thus impact the climate strongly, too. I try to buy organic meat replacement dishes, if possible. It is strange that they are often not that much cheaper, despite not containing meat. And it is difficult to prevent weight gain, if the vegetarian replacement of a (low fat) chicken breast has got 5 times as much fat. At least, vegan alternatives don’t use dairy products or eggs. Dairy products require (the dead of) a calf every year, and male laying hen are rarely raised since they aren’t breed for more meat. If you want to prevent animal dead you probably have to become a vegan.