It appears that the San Francisco vegans have developed a gruesome little gadget. It runs a death count of standard livestock animals (chickens, pigs, cows, and so forth), which starts at 0 when a webpage (such as a blog) is opened. Each animal's number then increases at a startlingly rapid rate, as calculated from actual annual averages. I tried to put it into this post, but despite the source code being html I just couldn't get it to work. It works fine as a sidebar addition, but honestly it's not the kind of thing I want in my sidebar. A little too in-your-face "omnivores are murderers" for me.
I do find it pretty interesting, though. I think few people have any clue as to just how many animals are actually slaughtered each day for food. In fact, I'm guessing that few people have realized there even are that many of these animals in existence at any given time, much less available to be made into chicken nuggets. If I decide to put this counter up anywhere, it will be on one of my pages that is not predominately visited by vegans; we already know about these disturbing figures. It'll be on my myspace, or my not-specifically-food-related-blog, so that maybe it'll reach an audience that doesn't just go, "yup".
Anyway. You should check it out. It seems that they did some pretty intense research and number crunching to come up with their figures, all based on information provided by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization. It's good to see people relying on data from impartial sources, rather than from well meaning and very possibly accurate but very obviously biased organizations, like, say, PETA. They include a paper-type-document in PDF form that they generated in their research, and in it is this fancy pie chart, which illustrates the proportions of each common food animal as far as number slaughtered:
I think it's fair to say that chickens have it rough... and that we're creating a really incredible number of them. It's not as if they're just procreating at this rate without any assistance from us.
When you look at these figures, it's so hard not to say, no way, that can't be right. It's just not possible. For example, I just opened up the SFVegan page a few minutes ago, and already the chickens count is over 700,000. But not only is it possible; it's happening. It's fact. Impossible and incomprehensible, as we've unfortunately seen time and time again in this world, are two entirely different things.