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After years of speculation, Nando’s has finally announced its arrival in Lancaster this summer but I’ll be honest, “Nando’s, Nando’s, Let Me Be, Keep Your Animal Cruelty Far From Me.”
As a passionate activist against animal cruelty, I think you can all see why hearing of Nando’s coming to town with their peri-peri chicken didn’t fill me with joy. Yet another major chain that pretends they care about the climate and animal welfare, despite being so well known for animal cruelty. Pro-vegan organisation Viva! has uncovered on several occasions Red Tractor assured farms used by one of Nando’s suppliers, Avara Foods, failing to meet the minimum for animal welfare.
But for those who are unaware of the cruelty and empty commitments behind food chains like Nando’s, hopefully I can shed some light on the absolute monstrosities these capitalist dirtbags allow behind the scenes.
Firstly, let’s have a quick peruse of their commitments to both climate change and animal welfare. After being criticised by ‘World Animal Protection’ in 2019 for failing to make any robust commitments to improve chicken welfare as well as refusing to publish extensive data on its progress towards better chicken welfare, Nando’s went on a PR offensive.
Nando’s promptly signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment in May 2020 as well as releasing a public commitment to raise chicken standards across its UK and Ireland supply chains on the 27th July 2020.
Nando’s promised that by 2026 all chickens used by the chain would be sourced from approved breeds that have better welfare substrates and natural light. I just want to add here an emphasis on natural light; being bred in a dark and dingy shed should never be recognised as acceptable.
As well as their intended commitments to chicken welfare, Nando’s have also set targets to achieve absolute zero emissions and reduce the carbon footprint for their meals by 2030. Since 2015, Nando’s have managed to reduce the carbon footprint for their meals by 40% which is commendable but still a long way off climate activism.
Similarly to the likes of KFC, Nando’s also advertise its charity partnerships. In this case, it’s the Kariba Forest Project in Zimbabwe, which focuses on reducing the impact of deforestation and improving the lives of over 37,000 people through better nutrition, health care, and clean water, as well as donations for the fight against malaria in Mozambique.
Nando’s is also committed to increasing its plant-based menu and reducing the carbon footprint of its chicken feed, having already committed to exclusive use of free-range eggs, organic milk and Fairtrade.
These are certainly steps in the right direction.
I will admit Nando’s initiatives are wonderful to see, but as I said before, it’s all empty commitment that could never outweigh the fact that Nando’s still uses factory farm hens that are not even given half a life.
Unlike some, including the Global Director of Food Business, Dr Tracy Jones who revelled in these commitments, “delighted to see such a popular brand like Nando’s, famous for their peri-peri chicken, championing the move for better chicken welfare,” my views on the brand haven’t changed. Ethics are ethics and Nando’s fails to reach my standards.
Gravel Farm is one of the major reasons I severely doubt the ethics of Nando’s. Concerned for the welfare of the animals being housed, Viva! set up numerous hidden cameras on the farm in November 2019. The captured footage revealed thousands of turkeys who “never saw the light of day,” were “mechanically fed and watered” and slaughtered using “barbaric” methods.
Gravel Farm had been recognised as part of the Red Tractor scheme but was thankfully removed after the footage revealed the clear cruelty these birds had been subjected to.
I should note that in response to this undercover investigation, Avara Foods declared that they’d “decided to remove the farm in question from our supply chain.” However, if Avara Foods had been holding the farm to the high standards it implies all of its sites are kept to through compulsory audits, then how was Gravel Farm allowed to operate for as long as it did?
What’s worse is Gravel Farm wasn’t an isolated incident, with Open Cages carrying out undercover operations at farms in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire in October 2020. The farm in Gloucestershire, owned by Avara Foods, shows fast-growing chickens in “chronic pain.”
Avara Foods claimed to have conducted an internal investigation which they concluded “didn’t highlight any welfare concerns.”
A spokesperson went even further to insinuate that “the undercover footage shows the overwhelming majority of birds are clean, in good health, moving freely and accessing food and water as they wish,” suggesting that the “edited footage” focused on “a handful of atypical birds that are either ill or have a natural deformity.”
How can there be no welfare concerns when some birds are left unable to walk and consequently struggling to reach food and water? It’s truly horrifying how welfare concerns can be so blatantly dismissed.
More recently in July 2021, footage was released of birds “panting, crippled and resorting to cannibalism,” according to a vegan charity. This footage claimed to be taken from three of the UK’s largest poultry producers who were approved by the Red Tractor Scheme and supply to the likes of Nando’s, Tesco and KFC.
With the reports of animal cruelty I’ve included, spanning across at least three years, I fail to see how any commitment made by Nando’s for either the climate crisis or animal welfare can be genuine and I’m not alone on this.
Having spoken to several students as well as the Veg Society, the opinion that we should be more focused on campaigning to get existing restaurants in Lancaster to become more conscious of animal cruelty rather than having another massive chain introduced with more of the same food is certainly shared.
Although it’s great to see chains including plant-based options on their menus and considering the climate more, animal welfare will always remain the most important issue.
Nando’s need to do more to show us that they really care about animal welfare, until they do, why should we want them in our city? Ponder that a moment and then think about how much that peri-peri chicken really costs.
Nando’s have been contacted for further comment.