UK singer-songwriter Lily Allen just posed a question on Twitter, “Do you ever wonder how many chickens you eat in a year?” The celebrity is not known for embracing the vegan lifestyle, but what may be a fleeting thought could be the beginning of a major shift in perspective.
To answer Allen’s question, the British population consumes an estimated 2.2 million chickens per day, according to Independent. Multiply that by 365, and that’s 803 million chickens eaten per year, just in the UK. Overseas, the U.S. population consumes 8 billion chickens per year, according to Perdue University. Broadening the scope a bit, the average American eats about 30 farmed animals per year, and that’s not including fish. To encapsulate this in a tweet, the simple answer to Allen’s query is “a lot” and “too many.”
Allen’s question received 252 comments in under three hours, sparking several responses from vegans and omnivores. A brief Twitter war began between her vegan followers and one particularly adamant non-vegan, who replied, “Loads and loads. Survival of the fittest.” While a few participants went back and forth with seething comments and facts regarding animal abuse and factory farming, other commenters seemed to legitimately ponder the question. As they realized that the number must be astronomical, a light bulb moment occurred. That’s a lot of chickens. Perhaps they will rethink their menu choice the next time they’re staring at the long row of packaged chicken breasts at the supermarket.
This isn’t the first time Allen has sparked a Twitter controversy. In 2013, in an attempt to raise money for the Comic Relief charity, Allen offered one of her pigs to the highest bidder on Twitter. She wrote, “I will name one of my pigs after you and send you the sausages and bacon from it when I kill it…Or if you’re a vegetarian you can choose to spare the pig.” Although the tweet received backlash from hundreds of followers, Allen seemed unshaken, tweeting, “Some of these vegans are loonies.”
Has Allen finally had a change of heart? Dozens of other celebrities, including fellow singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding, have adopted a plant-based diet and have never felt better. What’s more, it’s never too late to go vegan. YouTuber Logan Paul sparked massive backlash among the animal welfare community in the past, but upon announcing his new vegan diet, he has seemed to develop a higher sense of compassion and empathy toward animals. The vegan community is, overall, a supportive one, and any new vegan or veg-curious person is welcome.