a feather
can save
the world

Veronica Berenice

     If I hadn’t been born in the 1990s, I probably wouldn’t be typing with the keyboard of my computer right now; I’d rather be sitting at a desk trying to avoid stray drops of ink on my paper. Or, even more likely, the only ‘pens’ I’d be dealing with, would be those of the poor chicken whose neck I’d have ‘wrung’.

  If we were to honestly consider our association with feathers today, most of our daily lives, would have limited use for them, for example; padded jackets and duvets with which we warm our bodies during winter nights. When yet, in mythology as in literature, a feather has allowed us to dive into narratives that go beyond its more instrumental use, leaving room for mystical angel wings along with dreamlike Pindaric flights towards the sun.

If we were able to see life from a different perspective, what would our standing be if we were embodied, for example, in a chicken?

     And so, of all the literary quotations of flying feathers, the one that best suits the mood of this editorial that come to my mind is:

“Of course, people! What do you think finding yourself before a madman means? Finding oneself before a person who has weak foundations, and who has shaken-off from the very foundations everything that you have modelled in yourself, around you, the logic, the logic of all your creations!

– Well, what do you expect? They have short-lived resolutions, so lucky are the insane! Or rather those with a logic that is light as a feather! Fickle! Fickle! This is today’s modus operandi, as for tomorrow’s, who knows! – You hold on fast, and they no longer do. Fickle! Fickle!

– You say, “This cannot be!” – whereas to them anything can. [1]

Things that to some may seem like mere insanity, yet to those few who are “insane”, these are resources for a peaceful future. 

     Back in late 1971, a semi-unknown professor of pathology invented what we now know as cultured meat. The next evolution from this discovery appeared in 2013, when Dutch scientists led by Prof. Mark Post produced and subsequently feasted on a hamburger created solely in a laboratory. The reviews from guests who attended the event, including a food critic, were positively overwhelming! Getting now into a little more detail, the process of in vitro meat production is based on the extraction of stem cells that can be grown essentially infinitely. Enabling, therefore, in terms that are still hypothetical, the human need for protein to be met. Underlying this research is the will to prevent the endless indiscriminate killing of inhuman animals. Evaluations made in 2018 illustrate a reality that can be understood by exemplifying a few figures: 200,000,000 animals a day; thus, we kill more animals in a year and a half than all the people who have lived in 200,000 years of history. And since a comparison, albeit with due distinction and respect, seems necessary to the writer, it has been estimated, between 1933 and 1945, that there were about 15-17 million victims of the Shoah.[2] It is quite clear that we have more empathy for the murder of humans (living in a time of a global pandemic the issue is even more present); but if we were able to see life from a different perspective, what would our standing be if we were embodied, for example, in a chicken?

     We would probably think that in the face of the bloodiest extermination ever carried out on Earth, today all we can rightfully ask of animals for our nourishment is one and only one feather, which they have forgotten while changing their plumage. 

     It is from that seemingly insignificant feather that some of today’s[3]  research into the extraction of stem cells, we can keep the practice of cruelty-free meat making from its very first step. So that, for once in history, the process of making the much-loved fried chicken wings only has to do with chicken through a distant cellular relationship. A feather would thus become the catalyst capable of empowering the world.

    This invention brings with it a lot of financial difficulties, but recent statements by major investors point to a rapid technological increase that will make cultured meat as affordable for consumers as animal meat.

     The benefit to the planet is therefore not only ethical nor moral, but also in terms of reducing the current breeding space required for grazing and raising livestock, of protecting fresh water, aids the reduction of the greenhouse effect (the gases emitted by animals are currently more harmful than those emitted by planes, cars and ships combined), etc.[4]

     Obviously, we know that when faced with new technologies there is always a degree of unpredictability that has to be dealt with. So, let’s not let the fear of the new or of what we don’t fully understand keep us bound to a food source that creates suffering both for those who eat it and for those who don’t. Consciously or not.

[1] Enrico IV, Pirandello

[2] I’ve used the term ‘Shoah’ because the Jewish community has made it clear that the term Holocaust is inappropriate to describe what happened during the Nazi extermination camps. In fact, ‘Holocaust’ is a word that specifically indicates a sacrifice in which the entire animal is burned, including the parts usually left for the sacred banquet. Associating the idea of a sacred practice of a propitiatory nature to Jewish genocide is, clearly to say the least, inappropriate. However, it should be reminded that the term ‘Shoah’ is used in reference to the Jewish people, and one should not forget the other human groups that were subjected to the purge: homosexuals, Romanies, Sinti, Russian and Polish Slavs, handicapped people, those who were mentally ill, Communists, Freemasons, Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and many others.



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