When it comes to meat, the kitchen is a battlefield – and conscience is a casualty | Ian Jack


Once we made pets of chickens. But in the quest for cheap food, we have rendered their fates invisible

When he was a schoolboy, the great polymath Jonathan Miller won a reputation as the finest chicken impersonator in north London.

The pleasure his friends and family took in his performance had encouraged him to get the linguistics absolutely right. Rival impersonators at his school were happy to make do with “buk, buk, buk, buk … bacagh” but the future satirist, actor, opera director and neuropsychologist noticed that the noise chickens made wasn’t so regular, that “chickens liked to lead you up the garden path”, as he wrote in Granta magazine in 1988.

The industrialisation of the meat supply, which began in the 19th century, worked both for and against compassion

Related: If consumers knew how farmed chickens were raised, they might never eat their meat again

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