Over the past few months, the Michigan Animal Respect Society and I have been working in partnership with peta2 to bring the virtual reality simulator, “I, Chicken” to my university. “I, Chicken” is a fully immersive virtual reality experience that allows you to explore a virtual world from a chicken’s perspective.
You begin as a chicken in a field on a free-range farm, wandering around, flapping your wings, and following your chicken friends. But then, you are grabbed by the wing, thrown into the back of a truck, and taken to a slaughterhouse.
The experience is designed to increase empathy towards the animals we typically only think of as food. I found the experience absolutely amazing. I admit that, even though it was just a cartoon and not graphic at all, I felt very nervous and afraid when I was in the truck and slaughterhouse!
This virtual reality experience also aimed to dispel the belief that free range meat is cruelty-free. The photo above of the backdrop shows chickens at a free-range farm, the top 1% of chickens raised for food. As you can see, they still suffer terribly.
The truth is, if the animals were fated to end up with a knife in their throat at a slaughterhouse, then they were never truly free. Treating animals well during their life does not justify violently taking their life away. No chicken wants to die to become someone’s meal. Free range and factory farmed animals alike lose their lives in the same cruel and terrifying slaughterhouses.
I spent most of the time tabling. We offered students guides to going vegan and other educational materials, as well as cookies and candy. I had many interesting conversations with passerby. Most people were very receptive and interested in what we were doing. At first, I felt nervous explaining why we should choose a vegan lifestyle, but as I became more comfortable interacting with students, speaking came naturally. I hope this event helped students to connect with the animals they normally eat without consideration and pushed them to make a change in their lives, no matter how small.