Despite its name, the National Chicken Council is most definitely not on the side of chickens. This year the NCC boasted in a press release that Americans would eat 1.39 billion wing pieces this Super Bowl Sunday alone, a staggering 27 million more than last year and a predicted record. That’s enough chicken wings to circle the earth three times—enough to go a third of the way to the moon and enough for every man, woman, and child in America to eat four apiece, according to Food & Wine magazine.
The NCC is so excited by its anticipated profit that it’s even lobbying Congress and the president to name the Monday after Super Bowl Sunday “National Chicken Wing Appreciation Day.” It’s all incredibly ironic if you stop to consider that actually appreciating a chicken’s wings would mean allowing them to stay connected to the chicken’s body.
More than 700 million chickens are killed just for Super Bowl Sunday, the second-largest day for food consumption in America, second only to Thanksgiving (another horrible day for birds). Of course, many other “traditional” Super Bowl foods also involve considerable animal suffering, but since chickens are among the most abused and consumed animals, it’s worth thinking a minute about where those chicken wings come from.
Although chickens are intelligent and sensitive animals, the majority of them endure lives of horror trapped in factory farms. Chickens raised for meat are bred to grow so quickly and freakishly large that they suffer chronic, debilitating pain and frequently become immobilized under their own crushing weight. They sometimes die of heart attacks and organ failure. At the slaughterhouse, these sentient beings are violently shackled upside down, shocked with electricity, and cut open at the throat—often while still conscious and able to feel pain.
This brutal treatment is not the exception but the rule. Every undercover investigation Mercy For Animals has conducted into broiler facilities has uncovered appalling conditions and abuse. Last year, MFA’s investigation into Tyson Foods, the world’s largest poultry producer and seller of many of the wings eaten on Super Bowl Sunday, revealed birds left sick and injured in filth and workers ripping the heads off conscious birds and viciously punching, beating, and stabbing animals.
So this Super Bowl Sunday, why not celebrate without contributing to animal suffering? All your favorite traditional Super Bowl dishes, from nachos to—yes—chicken wings, can be deliciously (and often more healthily) veganized. Anyone who’s had Buffalo cauliflower will tell you that there are plenty of ways to hit the chicken-wing spot without taking any lives. Check out this collection of vegan Super Bowl recipes to find out how, or see this list of the best meat alternatives you can buy in stores to keep things compassionate.