For me, eating healthy means putting the best food I can afford into my body
If you're not a vegetarian, to get protein into your diet most people turn towards meat, with fish and chicken being obvious choices due to them being so low in fat.
I love chicken - I mean, I really do love chickens. One of the things I've alwayswanted to do on my bucket list was 'Hatch chickens from eggs' and a few years ago, that's exactly what my boyfriend and I did (He's very supportive over my crazy schemes). We actually bought an incubator and some eggs from eBay and hatched our very own chickens - not once, not twice, but actually 4 times!
It was amazing - seeing chickens emerge from an egg and watching as they got dry, stood up on their feet for the first time ever and started pecking at the chick crumb and cheeping. We kept them for 6-8 weeks, watching them grow and develop before we gave them to one of my work colleagues who has a lot of land and who promised to look after them even if they were cockerels (we agreed this before they hatched!).
Hatching chickens gave me a deeper appreciation of them and as such, I never want to eat chickens who have been hatched, crowded into small spaces and never even seen the sunlight, let alone outdoors. Although the UK offers a lot of free range chicken in their supermarkets - a lot isn't free range and in America, the vast majority of chickens are grown in confinement buildings, with feed, water and air piped in. These chickens never see sunshine, much less fresh grass.
What does free range mean?
The definition is: Free range denotes a method of farming husbandry where the animals, for at least part of the day, can roam freely outdoors, rather than being confined in an enclosure for 24 hours each day.
I don't eat as much chicken as I used to and actually substitute Quorn or eat more vegetables than I used to, however when I do eat chicken, I want to make sure the chicken has the best life they can possibly have.
I check that all the chicken I buy has one of the following:
Soil Association Logo: This means that the Organic chickens and turkeys are able to behave naturally - grazing, pecking the ground, scratching and dust-bathing - http://www.soilassociation.org/whatisorganic/organicanimals/poultry
RSPB Freedom Foods Logo - This means the chickens are free from a number of things such as hunger, disease, pain, discomfort, fear and other things detrimental to them.
Assured Food Standards - This means the birds have access to food, water and warmth which encourages them to express their natural behaviour.
I know it's more expensive and I appreciate not everyone can afford to spend additional money on food, however for me, it's really important, not just from the moral perspective, but also because I want to put the very best food I can in my body.
What would you rather? eat a chicken who's never seen the light? never been free to roam?
Or a chicken who's had a good quality of life and as such, is healthier and happier?
The choice is yours.