For The Birds: From Exploitation to Liberation

Reviewed by Marit de Haan
Ⓥ Activiste pour le vivant/planète/nature

For the Birds is a new book I am reading at the moment. The first chapters I read with a feeling of constant anger as Karen Davis describes the ideas people had and still have about birds and in particular about chickens, turkeys, etc., those animals that one doesn’t want to take into consideration, or more precisely include in their sphere of compassion, as they “live and die to be eaten.”

She describes the way these animals are manipulated to fit into the generally accepted breeding facilities that everyone who eats chickens or eggs blindly supports: Laying hens having their beaks chopped off, broiler chickens being bred to be so big for their muscles that at the end of their very short life they cannot stand on their own feet anymore or die from heart failure.

For the Birds also describes the intentions of industry researchers to breed chickens who are blind or without a brain or feathers, claiming they believe the birds would suffer less [and be more “productive”]. If you want to know more, take a look at this:

It is plainly disgusting and horrible what people do to these birds, amongst the most numerous on our earth but the most humiliated and abused of all farmed animals. The part I just finished reading in For the Birds is the part about sexual abuse: Sexual assault is the basis of all meat, egg, and mammary milk production around the world. Do you want to support that?

Research is showing us that we cannot ignore anymore that chickens are feeling all sorts of emotions like we do. “Birds have been shown to share with humans a complexly evolved brain that processes information and experience in much the same way as the human cerebral cortex” (The Avian Brain Nomenclature Consortium, 2005).

I hope the rest of Karen’s book, where she describes how special these birds are, will be more pleasant to read. I know that not many people would like to read this after I have given you this short description. Even if I wouldn’t have, I’m afraid that not many people would read it anyway, as most still see these birds as meat or egg-machines. I share some more positive aspects of poultry on my page of Fowl Faces at

I do hope that people who read For the Birds to the bitter end (and bitter it is, just like I am) and still think it is “OK” to eat meat or eggs, will stand still for a moment and “review the situation” as Fagin in Oliver Twist would say: “ ‘cause can a fellow be a villain all his life?” and reconsider their consumption habits for the New Year. – Marit de Haan

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For the Birds