How my hen made me vegan

10 Mar 2020

Profile of a new vegan: This is a story of how a hen changed the lives of the humans around her.

Dogs have blogs and Instagram feeds with millions of followers. Cats have pet salons and billions of supposedly therapeutic YouTube videos.

Hens? They are just really really underrated.

You have heard many stories about animal cruelty: how they stuff hens into cramped cages, how they are bred just to be killed, and the chemicals they are injected with. I don't have to remind you of these.

However, I do want you to meet my best friend who just so happens to be a hen. Her name is Featherfoot.

There are things you start noticing in nature that sometimes make you question what you have believed your whole life. For example, did you know that hens actually become foster parents for abandoned chicks?

I had seen this for myself several times. You see, I used to keep hens in my backyard for their eggs. Whenever I needed more hens, I would buy some chicks and place them under a new mother so that she would adopt them. The hen would care for them till they were old enough to lay eggs themselves.

Featherfoot wasn't so lucky. Her foster mother was a nasty piece of work. She pecked Featherfoot, she wouldn't let Featherfoot stay warm under her and neither did she give poor Featherfoot any sort of food or nourishment.

In this Cinderella Story, Chicken Version, I decided to be the Fairy Godmother. I don't know what made me do it. I could have easily returned her to the shop I bought her from. Instead, I brought Featherfoot upstairs, into the house.

I had absolutely no idea about how to care for a chick so young that she would easily fit into the palm of my hand. I kept her under warm yellow lights in the kitchen, gave her food and water, and even read up some blogs about caring for young chicks (the Internet full of random good advice).

The kids would play with her when they came over and carry her all around the house. She sometimes sat on my lap while I watched a movie. Featherfoot had a personality of her own. She was confident, sassy and liked to lay eggs in odd corners of the house. She even had a favorite armchair!

I started viewing Featherfoot more as a member of the family and less like just another hen.

And that is when it struck me. Featherfoot was in fact just another hen. Just because I saw more "human" tendencies in her, I thought she was worth more than the other hens in the backyard.

We humans always think we are above other animals, that we are better. In doing so, we lose our humanity and our compassion for other living creatures. We forget that they live and love just like us; that they feel pain just like us.

The meat and dairy industries are built upon centuries of torture, pain and complete indifference to the animals we share our planet with. These very animals care for us and love us when we show the slightest bit of kindness towards them.

The compassion that led me to bringing Featherfoot into the house is the same compassion that led me to choosing to lead a vegan life.

Being vegan isn't a fad and it is not as difficult as you think. Once you truly understand that you are not only helping the environment but your own body as well, being vegan doesn't sound like a bad deal at all.

Today Featherfoot is still my best friend. She clucks around me when I'm gardening in the backyard. She sometimes wakes me up by squawking in the hallways. All the kids in the house love cuddling her. She is very temperamental, sometimes infuriating and totally adorable.

You can see why I decided not to eat her friends, family or any other animal. And I definitely will not be eating the eggs which hold her babies.

And that, my friends, is the story of how my hen made me vegan.

This article was written by Brisbane-based vegan copywriter, Rutesha M. K. about her friend Julie. Both Julie and Rutesha are vegan.

Vegan Australia is an animal rights organisation that campaigns nationally for veganism. 
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