LAST UPDATED: 19 January 2017
Street art has a long history of challenging problems in society. And few problems are bigger in scale than factory farming. Around 600,000,000 chickens are raised in factory farms in Australia each year.
When you see a bucket of KFC or chicken nuggets from McDonald's, you're looking at the body parts of 6-week old birds who lived their short lives in overcrowded sheds on a floor littered with their own waste. These birds grow so fast that within a few weeks of being born it can hurt for them to even walk. Something's got to change ... and thankfully this mural is just one sign that things are.
Believe it or not, this mural showing cramped and de-feathered chickens with their heads trapped in fast food boxes, was actually commissioned by a fast food company.
Guzman Y Gomez, with more than 70 stores across Australia, has announced that it will use only free range chicken in its Mexican food from now on. AND it's taken to the streets with a #fixfastfood campaign to challenge McDonald's, Hungry Jacks, KFC and more to improve their standards for animals. Many of the restaurants whose branding appears on the mural are within walking distance from its location on La Trobe St.
We reached a stage and size where we can create real change in the industry by doing what is right. We hope others in the industry will join us, and help raise animal welfare standards across the whole fast food category.Steven Marks, Guzman y Gomez founder
Sadly, most of the chicken meat sold in fast food restaurants, comes from chickens who are raised in factory farms. For most of these birds, the only time they will experience sunlight on their face is the day they are trucked to the slaughterhouse.
The fact a restaurant chain like Guzman Y Gomez is choosing to take a lead by improving its animal welfare standards is not just a positive step, it's a sign of a growing movement for animals. And fortunately, we don't need to wait for restaurants to change their practices in order to create a kinder world for chickens — millions of people are taking matters into their own hands.
Factory farming is a result of one thing: demand. More people wanting more animal products means more animals forced into smaller spaces. But it doesn't need to be this way. Already, 1 in 4 Australians are opting for a kinder way to eat and cutting back on meat and animal products or taking them off their plate altogether. Reducing the demand for meat — especially chicken meat — is the fastest and simplest way to spare animals from cruelty and reduce the demand that has caused factory farming.
In fact, a recent study found that 400,000 more people have gone vegetarian in Australia since 2012. This group alone will spare the lives of 11 million farmed animals every year, plus millions more marine animals!
Pictured above are Lily and Molly from Lefty's Place Sanctuary, both rescued from the meat industry. Molly loved corn and exploring, whereas Lily preferred peace and quiet and a slice of watermelon. Like all animals, chickens have unique personalities. They enjoy the company of others and will form strong social bonds when given the chance to do so.
Chickens can live for up to 10 years naturally, but modern 'meat' chickens, like Molly and Lily, have been bred to grow so fast that their bodies simply cannot cope. After their rescue, Molly and Lily were given the chance to make the most of every day at their sanctuary home. But eventually their organs gave out on their unnaturally heavy bodies. Molly lived for just 6 months after her rescue and Lily for two years.
While chickens on free range farms are given more space and the chance to see sunlight, they share the same genes as Molly and Lily — and so suffer from the same complications from their rapid growth.
The choices we make every day have an impact on the lives of animals just like Lily and Molly. We all have a part to play in creating a kinder world for animals, whether it be refusing to support factory farmed products, as Guzman y Gomez have done, or eating more meat-free meals, as more than 5 million Australians are doing. A huge number of restaurants, including Guzman y Gomez and many featured on the mural, offer delicious plant-based options on their menus. You can also find great veg-friendly restaurants in your neighbourhood by searching the HappyCow app or website.
Whether it's once a week, or every day, every meat-free meal makes a difference for animals, and there's added health benefits for you too! Find out more about plant-based eating and get some great recipes to try by ordering our free vegetarian starter kit.