Recently, at Concordia High School in Kansas, an agricultural project was assigned where students were expected to choose a chick, raise and feed the chicken for six weeks, and then, when the time came, kill the chicken. One student, Whitney Hillman, couldn’t stand the thought of killing her chicken, Chicklett, so when the time came, Hillman put the chicken in her purse and ran away from school. This action landed her in a two-day in-school suspension—but Chicklett was saved and sent to live on a farm. Does newly-vegetarian Whitney regret her action? Find out in my Q&A with her below!
What made you decide to rescue Chicklett?
There were several moments throughout the project when I told my teacher that I wasn’t going to do this, I didn’t want to participate and that I wanted to keep Chicklett. I was never excused from the “broiler project.” Tears became a normal ending to most of my days during these weeks. The time grew nearer and my pain grew stronger. I began telling my friends and family that I was just going to take Chicklett and put him into my purse, but I didn’t really think that I would. The more I spoke out, the more some students would begin to make fun of me. My job was [supposed] to [be] pluck[ing] the feathers from my chicken and other chickens’ dead bodies. I began picturing Chicklett’s lifeless body … The weekend before the scheduled Monday slaughter, I talked and cried to my mother. I decided that I didn’t have to slit Chicklett’s throat just because I am being told to. I would never have forgiven myself had I decided to be a follower and kill the animal I raised, fed, cared for, named and that I loved. Chicklett trusted me. I knew that weekend that I had no other choice but to rescue Chicklett and get him to a safe place prior to turning myself in.
What is your favorite thing about Chicklett?
It’s very difficult to choose just one thing about this beautiful animal. If I have to narrow it down to just one thing, then it would be the sweet sounds he makes when you hold and cuddle him.
What do you think about the McCruelty campaign?
This one spawns a lot of passion from me. I am familiar with and aware of the campaign. I applaud the fact that PETA and people are standing up to a company that markets itself toward children and families, while behind closed doors the rooms are filled with agony and horror for so many helpless animals. The depth of pain and suffering that these animals endure is hard to fathom and impossible to measure. We are so overfed as a nation already and the food is getting faster by the moment. The bottom dollar and speed of output outweighs human compassion for the animal designated a McMeal for a child unaware of the ultimate sacrifice paid for that “happy meal.” I believe the solution lies in the same manner in which McDonald’s built its empire; exposure. Through exposure and education, one by one the message to stop promoting, buying, and eating abused animals will be heard. In addition, the campaign serves as an accountability measure not only for McDonald’s, but for other food industries as well. The videos wreak havoc on my emotions, but I make myself watch as I am an avid believer that once you know better, you do better.
Isn’t Whitney awesome? Leave a comment for Whitney and Chicklett below. Remember, chickens are friends, not food!