UPC Chickens Got Ira Glass to Go Veg, He Tells David Letterman

Ira Glass
Ira Glass

On Friday, April 20th, media celebrity Ira Glass, host of the wildly popular Public Radio International’s This American Life, aired on NPR and now on television, told David Letterman and millions of viewers on Late Night with David Letterman, that his visit to United Poultry Concerns’ chicken sanctuary inspired him to become a vegetarian.

Talking with Letterman, Ira Glass described his encounter with Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns and the huge letter-writing campaign UPC mobilized several years ago against This American Life’s annual “Poultry Slam.” He commented with amazement on the overwhelming task of advocating for chickens in a world where their death is everywhere you look, an “Armageddon,” he called it.

Glass told Letterman and the audience about our sanctuary in the midst of a large poultry production area, where “little escaping chickens” falling off trucks are brought to UPC for safety, how he was invited to visit, and upon meeting the chickens he discovered they are indeed “little individuals with personalities – this one’s shy, that one’s outgoing.”

When Glass asked Letterman if he had ever met a chicken, Letterman joked about meeting one at the end of a fork. He asked Glass if he’d changed his diet, and Glass replied that he thought of our chickens every time he took a bite of chicken after meeting them, and that he has indeed become a vegetarian.

[Many of you will remember our vigorous campaign against the “poultry slam.” Aired between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it ridiculed chickens, turkeys and ducks. Invited by Ira Glass for an interview, UPC president Karen Davis agreed on condition that he would visit our sanctuary first. On Saturday, November 22, 1998, Ira drove to Machipongo, Virginia where he met our chickens and saw how nice they were. On the November 27 “poultry slam,” he told listeners: “In this portion of our show, Karen Davis explains what it is that we just don’t understand about poultry, and why the whole idea of this poultry show was wrongheaded from the start.”

In 2004, as a guest on NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, Ira Glass talked about the “poultry slam” and how he’d received “hundreds of letters from irate animal rights activists spearheaded by one woman.” He said at the time he thought it was stupid that "with the holocaust killing of hundreds of thousands of chickens every day, we would target his show, as if it would make any difference.” Asked when he last ate chicken, he said “about 5 years ago.” He said he had given up meat and that we had “the last laugh.”]

Millicent and other UPC Chickens
Photo by UPC
What Can I Do?
  • Please Thank IRA GLASS for Promoting His Veg Change on David Letterman. Tell him how heartened you are by his story and ask him to consider doing some stories about how vegetarians live and how we promote our way of life for the good of animals and care of our planet and health. Contact:

    Ira Glass
    This American Life
    153 27th Street, Suite 1104
    New York, NY 10001
    Email: Ira@thislife.org, web@thislife.org
    Website: www.thisamericanlife.org/About_Contact.aspx