Are Vegetarian-Fed Chickens Actually Bad for Your Health?

Vegetarian-fed chicken is sold everywhere. It's not just sold, it's also touted as being something that is better-for-you. We often see it legitimized with the USDA's seal of approval. And, to the chicken knowledge novice, that seems great. Chickens only eat seeds and grass, right? Perhaps a bug here or there? Unfortunately, this couldn't be further from the truth.

EPIC Provisions, purveyors of incredibly natural meat-based bars and snacks, shared the below post on Instagram and it caught our attention. We had assumed that chickens ate some bugs, but when we looked into it further we were shocked to see that they are full-on omnivores. David Leffler's article, "Bird Brained: Why Vegetarian-Fed Chickens are Unhealthy, Unnatural, and Just Plain Wrong," goes into this in great detail.

The fact that we promote vegetarian-fed chicken as the natural, healthy way to raise poultry is a farce, according to Leffler. Even if the "vegetarian-fed poultry products are organic, cage-free, and non-GMO" they're still not inherently healthy. Yes, chickens eat plants and the occasional bug. But, in nature, they also eat straight-up animals in an almost unbelievably predatory fashion.

Chickens will eat worms. They'll eat frogs. A foraging chicken will even eat mice and snakes. Yes, people, they eat mammals. That being said, vegetarian-fed chickens are not eating what they would naturally. It's not even close.

Leffler goes on to mention that, when given the opportunity, a chicken will eat another dead chicken. They're certainly not the only animal to do this, but we'd say that they're potentially the most unexpected cannibalistic creature.

Chickens' "expansive palates drive them to forage for a variety of food and protein sources," says Leffler, "providing essential nutrients for a healthy, balanced diet." He says that companies toting vegetarian-fed chicken are doing so in order to, essentially, deceive consumers. Vegetarian-fed sounds natural and healthy when, as you can see, it's actually not.

Companies raising vegetarian-fed chickens face a dilemma. Since their birds don't eat a natural diet, they're low in vital things such as specific amino acids. Thus, the companies will introduce synthetic compounds their chickens.

While the USDA has tried to limit this, there's no getting around the fact that it shouldn't be happening in the first place. Chickens are omnivores, and companies like EPIC provisions are doing their best to publicize the proper way to raise poultry and other livestock.

Read More: Burger King Will Refuse to Serve Meat of Chickens from Abusive Poultry Farms

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