Animal Rights/Vegan Activists' Strategies Articles

How Can We Promote Respect For Chickens? An Interview With Karen Davis Of United Poultry Concern

From Anjali Banerjee, on
April 2023

Even if I believed the cause was hopeless, I would continue to fight for animals, to stand by and with them. As I have said often, our chicken sanctuary will always protect me from giving up and burning out. Seeing the eager, expectant little faces and bright eyes and primal enthusiasms of the hens and roosters we have adopted through the years from miserable conditions, or even from just less happy situations, I am unconditionally motivated to keep helping them and all chickens as best I can for as long as I can.

what wings are for

In honor of International Respect for Chickens Day, May 4, 2023, Species Unite is delighted to feature this exclusive interview with Karen Davis, President and Founder of UPC United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domesticated birds including a sanctuary for chickens in Virginia.

What are the highlights of your journey to establish United Poultry Concerns?

I grew up eating animals without thinking that meat was the body part of a pig or cow or chicken or a turkey. All children were supposed to drink milk for “strong bones” so that was taken for granted. Eggs meant egg salad sandwiches for lunch and scrambled or fried eggs or hard-boiled eggs for breakfast or picnics. My father hunted rabbits and pen-raised pheasants for sport. This was in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Once I understood something about hunting, at age 13 or so, I began arguing with my father about it over a dinner table laden with meat whose origin did not give me pause.

Not until I read an essay by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy called “The First Step” in 1974 at age 30 did the origin of meat from animals become a conscious, heart stopping realization. Tolstoy’s description of a Moscow slaughterhouse he visited was so dreadful and sad that I stopped eating meat immediately. Because the suffering of animals killed to be eaten affected me so deeply and completely, I did not miss eating them and never have missed this depressing diet.



Karen Davis
Karen Davis with Rainbow - photo: Unparalleled Suffering


chicken concentration camp
Modern chicken house in the United States, Delaware. Photo: David Hart

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