Photo by: John Whipple
Did the Protester Cross the Road?
Wednesday (Aug. 18), 10 local activists joined five visiting
members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, including
one dressed as a chicken in a wheelchair, for an hourlong
protest outside the Delaware Avenue Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The protest was part of a nearly 2-year-old international
campaign to convince KFC’s parent corporation, Yum! Brands,
to improve the standards to which it holds its chicken suppliers.
PETA’s complaints, discovered through undercover investigations,
include extreme overcrowding, chickens that could only drag
themselves by their wings, and chickens being thrown and stomped
by workers and scalded to death. One investigator told the
U.K. Sunday Mirror, “I have investigated animal welfare
for many years, but this easily ranks amongst some of the
worst cruelty I have seen.”
The KFC employees “didn’t seem very pleased that we were out
there,” said Joe Hinckle, vegan campaign coordinator for PETA.
Hinckle said the employees initially tried to tell the protesters
they couldn’t be on the sidewalk, but quickly backed down
when they realized they were wrong. A KFC manager declined
Yum! has put together an animal-welfare advisory committee,
and claims to be holding suppliers to high standards, but
PETA says it is still generating more corporate doublespeak
than action. As one example, PETA notes on its Web site that
Yum! promises that chickens destined for KFC restaurants
are never debeaked, which avoids the fact that it is the breeders
that are subject to painful debeaking.
It may seem a little odd for people who advocate a vegan diet
to recommend more humane farming and killing methods, but
it’s a matter of tactics. “If we stood outside KFC just telling
people not to eat chicken period, I don’t think a lot of people
would listen to what we were saying,” said Hinckle, who is
quick to clarify that “we definitely encourage people not
to eat the chicken period.”
If KFC is afraid nothing it can do—short of switching to Tofurkey—will
get PETA off its back, it should be noted that in the past
four years PETA has called off campaigns against McDonald’s,
Burger King and Wendy’s after those chains agreed to sufficient