by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals, Film/TV
Tags: , .

Everyone has a cause that they’re passionate about — and as Ira Glass, host of This American Life on NPR, told David Letterman last night, one woman’s mission inspired him to become vegetarian. That woman, Karen Davis, is the president of United Poulty Concerns — a a nonprofit organization dedicated to the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. Every year, she organized people to write in to This American Life and complain about their annual “Chicken Poultry Slam” series (a play on Poetry Slam) that would tell stories about eating chickens and turkeys around the holidays.

She urged Glass to come visit her farm and see just how much personalities chickens have. And he did — and became a vegetarian. Check out the great video below of Ira on The David Letterman Show.

Thanks to Sara for the tip!

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • Andy Baio

    It’s a Poultry Slam, not “Chicken Slam”!

  • DJ Karma (of VegSpinz)

    It took me aback at first how everyone was laughing at the thought of a “Chicken Activist”- but I can see how it would be funny if you ate chicken all the time and never thought about it. I am in no way around chickens (or other meat animals) to experience their personalities, but it just doesn’t surprise me (duh, their animals!)… just like my dogs… just like you and me. How can they NOT have personalities? Great story- I think it may have made some people in the audience think (a little bit)!

  • Erin of Raw Foods Retreat

    I’m with DJ

    I guess I just always thought they did and after moving from Chicago to a tiny town in Indiana I was raised around chickens and yes they DO have personalities and yes they are cute and yes they do get to know you. And no they might not be brilliant scientists (though I don’t know how brilliant scientists really are) but as DJ says they’re animals. Someone today told me today how she was told her dog (and my cat) have no concept of time. That is just ludicrous. Only recently did those “brilliant scientists” (no comment) just discover animals have feelings like sympathy jealousy anger… I could have told them that when I was 3.

    Hey science is cool but sometimes I think we need to get back to nature. Chickens, cats, bunnies and human beings all have feelings and feel pain – the reason I don’t eat them (yes including humans ;)


  • Foodeater

    I had the same reaction as DJ Karma above. While I found Ira and his story very endearing, I was actually pretty disturbed by all the laughing from the audience, though not surprised by it. I wonder if the laughing was natural (audience laughs freely when they find something funny) or if they are being cued to laugh by the shows producers.

    How sad that that lines that got Ira the most laughs were his most accurate statements, that it’s Armageddon out there for chickens (all food animals really), and animal rescues being like the underground railroad. I totally get how for the majority of people that would all seem ludicrous and hilarious, and that’s what saddens me the most.

    But wow, way to go Karen Davis… she’s my new hero!

  • michael

    I agree with all of the statements above. It’s great that Ira ended the story by saying he went vegetarian — but it certainly seems like there was a lot of comedy before making his point.

    Either way, great for him to draw attention Davis’ cause.

  • jamie lynn

    “Hey science is cool but sometimes I think we need to get back to nature.

    Great statement Erin. it bothers me how some people have taken logical thought to the extreme–yes, i believe there can be an extreme to logic, when you paralyze yourself to feeling and intuition. do we really need scientists to tell us that animals have thoughts and feelings? come on.

  • Get Technical

    Not to mention the scientists, like anyone else, have their own interests in presenting the data and unfortunately sometimes manipulate it for their careers. Such a case is being investigated with MMR and autism

  • Tamara

    Yeah, I found the whole dismissive tone pretty off-putting and depressing. Let’s all make fun of people who care about something! And want to alleviate suffering! Ha ha ha ha ha!!!

    I’m glad he ended on a high note (his veg conversion), but it seemed like too little too late after ridiculing ‘chicken activists’ for the first 90% of the segment.

    I have rescued chickens, ducks, and turkeys and it’s hard for me to believe that people don’t realize that yes, of course they have feelings and personalities, just like every other living creature…

  • Leanne Mai-ly

    I actually found his story very well told, because he was saying-‘- hey- I too thought this was all very silly, but when it came to the truth of it, she was right and I had to change… and I did.’

    nothing like an epiphany for the animals… thank you for this!

  • Scientist

    Amazing story from Ira Glass!

    I have been reading the comments and actually I am a scientist but I agree with everyone here 100%. Except I do not think it is correct to lump all scientists together. Scientists are very diverse (like everyone else) and we all have different biases and opinions.

    Personally, I am trying to use science to support arguments in favor of animal welfare. I believe that animals think, feel pain, have personalities, and should not be treated as objects. Science can be used to help show that this is true.

  • Georgi

    That someone as brilliant and unique as Ira Glass has “come out” about being Veg is wonderful.

    But wasn’t it a bit sad the way it did feel like he was “coming out”? The majority of his story sounded like he was laughing at Karen and all her (incredible) efforts… and by the time the “punchline” came – or the moral of his story was said – it was a tad deflated.

  • Shannon

    If you have ever listened to This American Life then you will understand Ira’s delivery. If you don’t appreciate Ira then you make comments similar to those posted above.