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PETA's human 'chicken' hits Ronald McDonald with a pie to protest slaughter method

Ronald McDonald gets a pie in the face, courtesy of a PETA supporter in San Francisco

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and McDonald's have never been on the coziest of terms, considering the latter is responsible for the deaths of countless animals for hamburgers and McNuggets each year. But with PETA's recent moves, designed to draw attention to what it says is inherent cruelty related to McDonald's methods for slaughtering chickens, the relationship between the animal-rights group and the fast-food giant has become downright frosty.

Since PETA's latest fight is on behalf of the animals that become those McNuggets, it's somewhat appropriate that an enraged "chicken" (albeit one wearing an off-puttingly happy grin) was the one wielding the pie that caught Ronald McDonald in the face during an appearance at the city's South San Francisco Day in the Park event over the weekend.

The pie-in-the-face gag (it was vegan custard, containing no eggs or dairy products, in case you were wondering) is just the most recent tactic in animal activists' war against the method of chicken slaughter commonly referred to as electric immobilization or electric stunning. Earlier this year, PETA used other stunts to draw attention to the practice, including passing out "Unhappy Meals" -- which included a rubber chicken stained with fake blood, a paper cutout showing Ronald McDonald wielding a bloody knife and a T-shirt bearing the logo "McCruelty" -- to would-be McDonald's customers and enlisting rock icon Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders to be the spokesperson for its "I'm Hatin' It" campaign.

"McDonald's can stop a great deal of cruelty simply by requiring its suppliers to render chickens unconscious before they are roughly handled and slaughtered," Tracy Reiman, PETA's executive vice president, said of the group's campaign against the electric immobilization technique. "McDonald's is responsible for forcing millions of chickens to experience an agonizingly painful death."  The group asserts that the electrical current used to stun the chickens before slaughter simply renders them unable to move, and isn't enough to make them insensitive to pain. Additionally, PETA says, many birds stunned using this method suffer broken wings and legs as a result, and others are scalded to death in defeathering tanks. 

In its current campaign against McDonald's, PETA hopes to convince the company to use its clout to force its American suppliers to use an alternate method of slaughter called controlled-atmosphere stunning.  (This method is fairly common in Europe, but less so in the U.S.)  Animal advocates say controlled atmosphere stunning, in which oxygen is removed from the birds' atmosphere and they die of anoxia without ever being handled by a slaughterhouse worker, is a painless process that is less cruel than electric immobilization.

But in a recent interview with Slashfood, Bob Langert, McDonald's vice president of corporate social responsibility, insisted that his company works with "leading independent animal-welfare experts" to ensure that animals are slaughtered as humanely as possible.  Since no large-scale American poultry suppliers currently use the controlled-atmosphere stunning method, "demands to purchase chickens from this method to meet McDonald's supply needs are not viable," Langert told Slashfood.

Ronald McDonald gets a pie in the face, courtesy of a PETA supporter in San Francisco

PETA pushes for slaughter reforms, ruffles feathers by passing out 'Unhappy Meals'
PETA wants to rent Virginia prison building for use as 'Chicken Empathy Museum'

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photos: PETA

Comments () | Archives (8)

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But what I want to know is why is there a Genentech sign in shot #1?

You eat it, you get what you deserve.

Has any vegan taken a moment to consider the millions of animals killed every day in the harvesting of fruits and vegetables? I'm not talking about those sprayed with pesticides. Even organically grown foods get bugs that need to be washed off or killed in the harvesting and delivery process. How many millions have died for your grain of rice? I'm serious. To paraphrase Ingrid Newkirk, "A cow is a pig is a dog is a man is a fly."

Scott, that old bit is and always has been disingenuous.

1. Unless you're using some HIGHLY bizarre irony, you don't actually care about these animals. This is a transparent and petty attempt to catch vegans in hypocrisy, which you've masked (badly) as moral decency.

2. There IS no hypocrisy. If you bother to talk to a real live vegan, any of us will tell you that veganism is necessarily tempered by practical considerations. It's the world we're stuck in. Since steel and asphalt are both made with animal products, for instance, no use of infrastructure in society (directly or not) can be cruelty-free. We don't like this, but as domesticated animals, we've no alternative. The kind of reductio ad absurdum vegan you're caricaturing would have to live off-the-grid as a fruitarian. No vegan i know--and i know scores--has espoused that even as an ideal, let alone a practice. I'd say the essence of veganism is to reduce preventable suffering as much as possible, and to explode the myth that said suffering is ever 'justified.' (And yes, eating meat is a choice: a disgustingly indulgent one that screws over most of the world's human as well as nonhuman population.)

3. Most importantly, meat-eaters' activities consume TEN TIMES the plants and animals in this manner that vegetarians do. That's the ratio of plant food used up to animal food produced. Few things Newkirk says can or ought to be taken seriously, but the point you've quoted is ethically, philosophically, and biologically incontestable. And it's precisely because I care about plants and animal attrition too--because I take seriously the arguments you put forth dishonestly--that I'm a vegan.


You don't know me, and I put forth my argument quite honestly. You also have idea zero about how or if I care about animals.

I ask what of the insects killed in the name of our fruits and vegetables. They number in the millions, yet are never acknowledged as far as I can tell. And you know millions of them aren't killed instantly or painlessly, but linger on, maimed on the ground.

I eat meat, yet strive to keep the insect population in and around my home from being killed by me and mine every chance I can. My home was recently ant infested and I figured out how to get them out of the house with a minimal amount of death. The number 1 reason they died in my home: I'm colossal compared to them and they are very delicate. They were killed accidentally by me trying to put them outside.

So, because I eat meat, does this make me insane? Does the Dalai Lama's meat included diet make him a hypocrite? If your answer is yes, then I figure some vegan's are hypocrites, or have failed to consider their actions, and that we live in a grey world of choices, none of which can be said to be a "best" one, if we're concerned about the lives of our fellow beings.

Lastly I don't think the problem is people eat meat or vegans also have dead animals to deal with, it's the anger from both sides that negates any kind of reasonable debate or chance for peace in this lifetime.

First and foremost PETA is the wrong organization to speak on animal rights. Thanks to Virginia law you have to file how many animals you save and kill. They have a 95% dog and cat kill rate. That is 21,000 animals in a ten year period killed in Virgina alone. Killing pets that can be adopted is cruel no matter how you kill them. They are using spokesman that have tea cup poodles. A practice that has been shunned by numerous animal rights activists.

If everyone in America ate no meat, we would have to clear so much land it would kill many wild animals and infringe on the habitat of animals. While feeding cattle in itself is contributing to this infringement it is in no where as close as the if everyone was Vegans.

Moderator did not post my comment from yesterday.

But I more or less agreed with Dan on the subject. Other than his needlessly expressed opinion of Ingrid Newkirk.


You do make good points, but only in your second post. Even then they are clever ways of making peace with your own decision to help encourage a diet of cruelty.

Insects do matter, you're right. I did the same as yourself when it came to my kitchen counter being infested with ants ever since I had a party and someone spilled some sugary soda on the counter top. I spread cinnamon, I used peppermint oil, I kept everything clean and dry for weeks until they were gone.

At every time in my life that I can promote a cruelty free, and most compassionate choice possible - I do. But alas, as Dan said - I live in a house that has pieces made with animal products. Not to mention the building I work in, the car I drive - and even the food I eat is produced with some cruelty as you pointed out.

Bottom line - of course some vegans are hypocrites. They are still human, but they aren't hypocrites because they are vegan. That's the difference. Expressing that you are someone who is compassionate towards animals, or humans, or the environment - and continuing to eat meat me a the truest form of hipocrisy out there.

So unless you truly just do not care about anything in this world but your own pleasure, if you eat meat you are a hipocrit.

ps. At the very least, the Dalai Lama does not eat factory farmed meat. Which is, while still unnecessary and not compassionate at its core, the lesser of two evils in the world of animal cruelty.


everything you've said is CCF drivel. If you'd rather support an organization like the Center for Consumer Freedom then you have some other issues, I imagine. PETA does euthanize animals, but have you been to the north carolina / virginia areas? Have you SEEN the animals they're putting down, have you seen the way animals are treated in those areas?
It's terrible. Please don't spout completely blind facts with no backing, please. http://blog.peta.org/archives/2009/03/why_we_euthaniz.php

THis is just another one of those stunts Peta does to drag more attention to them! I agree with Peta in one thing: animal abuse BUT they take things way to far! HAve you seen a website they have for little children that has games such as dress dolls in bloody fur clothing?! Peta is taking things to far and I they need to look in the mirror and see what fools they are making f them selves!


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