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How Many Chickens Have We Saved?

Credit: Beth Lily Redwood

As a food company, you might think we make food for people. And we do. But also we don’t. Or to put it another way, this is only half the story. We make food for people specifically to encourage them to choose VFC over products that harm animals in intensive farms and slaughterhouses. So far, so unfunny. (If you’ve come to this blog for the lols, you might be disappointed but if you like stats and facts and nice pictures of chickens, hang around.)

How it Started

When we launched in Dec 2020, our Chickens Saved counter looked like this…

… and the only way was up. With modest sales, the counter clicked up one chicken every 20 minutes. It was exciting to see it climb and by February 2021, it looked like this…

More than, 4,000 birds had been spared. We were delighted and then quickly realised this was about one-eighth of one shed on one farm in one country.

A Promise is a Promise

We promised you facts and stats and this seems like a good time to roll them out, and to explain how we arrived at one bird spared every 20 minutes.

The target slaughter weight for a ‘broiler’ chicken in the UK is 2–2.5kg, with 1–1.5kg of each bird’s carcass being edible. So, for the purposes of our calculator, one chicken’s life saved is equivalent to every 1.5kg of vegan fried chick*n we sell. When we launched we were making 800kg of VFC per week, which equates to 533 chickens spared. Here’s the maths:

800kg ÷ 1.5kg = 533 chickens spared
1 week = 10,080 minutes ÷ 533 chickens = one chicken spared every 18.9 minutes
(We rounded up to one bird spared every 20 minutes)

How it’s Going

Since we launched in Tesco, the rate of sales has obviously risen but it is early days, and we don’t yet know by how much. Our current best guess is that we will sell 5,000kg of VFC a week, so that would equate to 6 birds every 20 minutes or 18 birds an hour. At that rate we could theoretically empty one typical 30,000-bird shed in 1,666 hours, or 70 days. What? Just one shed? That still doesn’t sound much. But that is what we are up against. The scale of the chicken industry is absolutely vast, the number of individual beings involved astronomical.

But we have plans.

Segue: Why do we Track Chickens Saved?

Because we care about chickens. Sparing their suffering is the main reason we set up the company. Their lives are our most important metric and our biggest motivation for scaling our business, and for succeeding. Frankly, nothing else really matters.


In the UK alone there are over 1 billion chickens slaughtered for food every year. A further 60 million chickens die on factory farms in England and Wales — these are the birds who cannot even survive six weeks in those appalling conditions and never even make it to the slaughterhouse. In 2018, there were 68.79 billion chickens slaughtered globally, making them the most exploited land animals on the planet. Now, you can see why we need to sell a lot of VFC to make an impact.

Sparing Versus Saving

We accept that nothing we do will save the lives of birds already hatched into this pitiless system. We accept it but we don’t like it, and that is why we are working so hard to reduce demand which will ensure fewer birds are bred specifically to suffer and be killed. So, while we say ‘Chickens Saved’, it is more accurate to say ‘Chickens Spared’. It’s just … if we’re honest … we sound more heroic this way. Forgive us.

And, we know there is a secondary question you are itching to ask: if we are selling predominantly to vegetarians and vegans are we sparing any birds at all?

We are. The number of people who don’t eat meat is rising in part because there is such good non-animal food available. And by offering delicious feel-good chick*n, we are helping support people so they are not tempted to go back.

Besides, now that we are on the shelves of the largest retailer in the country – and let’s be honest, our packaging is not subtle – we are pushing ourselves into the consciousness of flexitarians, too. And that right there is a huge market – far bigger than the vegetarian / vegan market. If those people pick up VFC over products made from chickens, VFC will save entire flocks, sheds and farms of birds.

We accept that our Chickens Saved counter is imperfect, but it is the best way we can keep track of our impact. And, as we develop and grow, we may well be tracking our impact for pigs, cows and fish, too. We have said too much. Please keep that to yourself.

Ambitions

Since we signed the Tesco deal, we have not been wallowing in champagne, singing We Are the Champions, despite what you may have heard. We fist bumped and moved on. Of course we’re delighted to be listed. It’s huge news. But one shed in 70 days is not enough, especially as more and more sheds are being built to cash in on the demand for chicken meat. Just look at the trajectory of that graph above. And just ask the people of Powys where dying rivers are blamed on the never-ending construction of chicken farms. So, champagne and karaoke will have to wait. Instead, we’ve been working on a business plan and expect to spare the following numbers of chickens over the next two years:

2022 — 1,226,276
2023 — 2,134,677

Competitors or Collaborators?

Of course VFC is not saving or sparing animals alone. Where other businesses may see competitors, we see as allies – good people producing great food in a bid to end the suffering of animals and the destruction of the world’s wild places. We’re delighted to see so many other exciting chicken alternatives coming on to the market, alongside a host of delicious non-animal products. We’re proud to be in the V-Gang.

As a food company, you might think we make food for people. And we do. But also we don’t. Or to put it another way, this is only half the story. We make food for people specifically to encourage them to choose VFC over products that harm animals in intensive farms and slaughterhouses. So far, so unfunny. (If you’ve come to this blog for the lols, you might be disappointed but if you like stats and facts and nice pictures of chickens, hang around.)

2022 — 1,226,276
2023 — 2,134,677

Now, here’s that chicken picture we promised you.

Credit: Beth Lily Redwood

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