How Much Is Life Worth?

By Jorge Sigler

Animals represent the best example of life having a real, factual value.  We exploit and abuse them for pleasure, convenience, and tradition.  Every time we walk by the meats section of any grocery store, we see a price tag on the body of an individual, an individual who endured a horrendous life, a life very few of us can even stand observing.  The price tag in the market includes taxes, profits for the store, distributors, etc.  If such a price has been inflated to add the profits of so many, what is the bottom-line value of their life?

Picture by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos (Wikimedia)

Chickens and turkeys farmed for their meat and eggs represent over 97% of the total number of animals being exploited in the U.S. for food, over 8.77 billion of them suffering this fate in any given year.  Still, of the entire land mass allocated for animal farming, chickens and turkeys only occupy 1.5% of that land.  Such a proportion is preposterous, chickens and turkeys live horrible lives, crammed in narrow spaces and kept in highly unsanitary conditions.  As horrifying and atrocious as it sounds, this is partially the appeal for farming such animals; the capacity to keep so many in such little space.

Another relevant aspect for the farmers is that these 3 “products” (chicken flesh, turkey flesh, and chicken eggs) are the most profitable of the main agricultural “products.”  As a matter of fact, these are not just the most profitable animals for the farmers to exploit, these are the ONLY ones that are profitable for farmers.  Many a times we have heard that animal products are only affordable because of governmental subsidies, and much is true in such a statement.  The government provides subsidies for many agricultural products, both animal-based and plant-based, in order to secure the jobs generated, the low cost of food products, the accessibility to local food products in case of a global conflict, and other many reasons.  However, these subsidies only dilute the real value of the individuals or crops; how much does each farmer make per animal?  What is the magical number that turns humans into monsters, into the literal devil for the innocent?

For laying hens (5% of the total number of farmed animals), their life of horror is worth $4.67; for turkeys (2% of the total), their suffering is worth $3.91; and for chickens farmed for their meat (93% of the total), their anguish is worth $0.53, only half a dollar.  That is the bottom-line value of their lives, that is the price tag on each individual crammed over his/her siblings, the price of their suffering and their torment.  That is also the price of our health, but even worse, that is the price of our own morals.

We cannot turn a blind eye to their suffering, we must refuse to stand idle at this injustice.  The animal rights movement is now stronger than ever.  Every activist adds a key piece—the blogger, the disruption activist, the open rescue activist, the keyboard warrior, the foodie Instagram activist, the fitness activist, and every one of us.  We are one big movement, we are one loud voice.  Let’s stand together to give back animals their lives and their freedom.  For how much their life is worth should never be answered with a number; the answer should always be “priceless.”


Animal-based agriculture Vs. Plant-based agriculture.  A multi-product data comparison. [CURRENT DATA].” Economic Transition Team, Humane Party, March 22, 2017.