Last Friday, visitors to the McDonald’s restaurant in South Burlington got a surprise: free “Unhappy Meals” courtesy of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. According to PETA Campaign Coordinator Kristina Addington, who traveled to Vermont for the event, the freebies included “a T-shirt which says ‘McCruelty’ wrapped up like a chicken sandwich, a menacing Ronald McDonald with an evil smile and a bloody chicken.” Four Vermonters, including cartoonist Harry Bliss, stopped by to help out the cause.
The animal rights’ advocates’ nationwide campaign aims to stop the use of inhumane slaughtering methods by processing companies that send their poultry to the fast-food giant. “People are shocked when they find out that McDonald’s doesn’t ensure that birds are dead before they’re scalded alive,” Addington says. “We’re asking McDonald’s to ask their suppliers to switch to ‘Controlled Atmosphere Killing,’ which would ensure that the chickens meet their demise painlessly.”
Isn’t the organization against McNuggets in general? “PETA is absolutely a vegetarian organization,” Addington agrees. “But we’re also a pragmatic organization, and CAK would be extremely less painful to birds.” She believes that, by taking a stand against inhumane slaughtering tactics, McDonald’s could have a ripple effect on the entire poultry industry.
How did the gruesome gift go over? “We got a really great response. I think parents and children in Burlington are really compassionate,” Addington says. “I think children see worse [than the bloody chicken images] on TV and in video games.” In any case, she adds, “Children deserve to be told the truth.”