A One Step member passes along this from Steven Pinker's book The Better Angels of Our Nature:
If someone were to count up every animal that has lived on earth in the past fifty years and tally the harmful acts done to them, he or she might argue that no progress has been made in the treatment of animals. The reason is that the Animal Rights Revolution has been partly canceled out by another development, the Broiler Chicken Revolution.
The 1928 campaign slogan "A chicken in every pot" reminds us that chicken was once thought of as a luxury. The market responded by breeding meatier chickens and raising them more efficiently, if less humanely: factory-farmed chickens have spindly legs, live in cramped cages, breathe foul air, and are handled roughly when transported and slaughtered. In the 1970s consumers became convinced that white meat was healthier than red (a trend exploited by the National Pork Board when it came up with the slogan "The Other White Meat").
The result was a massive increase in the demand for chicken, surpassing, by the early 1990s, the demand beef. The unintended consequence was that billions more unhappy lives had to be brought into being and snuffed out to meet the demand, because it takes two hundred chickens to provide the same amount of meat as a single cow.
Now, factory farming and cruel treatment of poultry and livestock go back centuries, so the baneful trend was not a backsliding of moral sensibilities or an increase in callousness. It was a steadily creeping up of the numbers, driven by changes in economics and taste, which had gone undetected because a majority of people had always been incurious about the lives of chickens.
Please be a part of our efforts to stand up for chickens and reverse this trend!