Chicken Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/12/22 •  12 min read
chicken benefits and side effects


Energy: chicken side effects may include dementia, depression, inflammation, mood swings, irregular blood sugar levels, food poisoning if undercooked, campylobacter bacteria and salmonella can make people seriously sick

Longevity: chicken benefits may include boosted immune system | chicken side effects may include antibiotic, dioxin and artificial hormone ingestion, cancer (namely breast and prostate), cardiovascular disease, diabetes, food poisoning from high levels of campylobacter and salmonella, free radicals, heart disease, high cholesterol, neurological problems from arsenic exposure, potential E.coli infection from fecal contamination, weakened immunity, unhealthy pH levels in body

Appearance: chicken benefits may include weight loss (boiled) | chicken side effects may include weight gain (fried, oiled, etc.)

Chicken is…

a kids book about plant based eating
Teach Kids Where Our Food Comes From. Look Inside!


Water footprint: moderate, 4,325 liters of water used to produce 1 kilogram of chicken meat / 518 gallons of water used to produce 1 pound of chicken meat

Carbon footprint: high, 6.9 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of chicken, a car driving equivalent of 16 miles or 25.75 kilometers

Destruction: high, chicken production is relatively destructive, solid waste (excrement/manure) runoff, contamination of air, land/soil and water, deforestation for feed crops, animal agriculture leading cause of: species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction, responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction

Chicken is…


Kills: chickens, broken bones and wings when removed from slaughter transport crates, legs shackled and hung upside down, shocked/electrocuted/stunned to immobilize, eventually necks are slit by an industrial blade, however many are still conscious throughout entire process, each year hundreds of thousands “accidentally” survive conveyor slaughtering only to be boiled alive when de-feathering process occurs, 982 million broiler chickens are killed each year in the UK alone

Harms: chickens, raised indoors often with 20,000+ others, never see natural daylight, over-stuffed coops, packed so tightly they’re barely able move, unable to stretch wings, stress of conditions leads to cannibalism and therefore they are often debeaked without anesthetic, floors covered with excrement creating such high ammonia levels their eyes, throats and skin are irritated and burned, due to conditions many suffer heart failure, trouble breathing, leg weakness and chronic pain, cannot support their weight and become crippled, unable to reach food and water, lights kept on and sleep restricted to induce eating more


Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife and ecosystems, surrounding wildlife (fox, coyote, bobcat, hawk, or owl and more) may be killed to prevent predation on livestock, chickens’ wastewater, runoff and leakages negatively affect aquatic ecosystems, pesticides used to control pests and predators cause pollution to ecosystems once they enter groundwater and surface waters, the impact of such waste and chemical pollution on sensitive ecosystems results in biodiversity loss, ecosystems are contaminated via ammonia deposition, drug residues and hormones, additionally, intensive feed production for poultry livestock contributes to biodiversity loss via land use, land-use change and modification of natural ecosystems and habitats, excretion of hormones from poultry is cited to be a possible cause of endocrine disruption in wildlife, steroid levels are high enough to cause endocrine disruption on runoff from fields where poultry manure has been applied, resulting in reproductive disorders and disease transmission to a variety of wildlife populations

Chicken is…


Health and safety: hazardous, poultry processing workers have some of the highest rates of occupational injury and illness in the USA, the work environment in processing plants is dirty, dangerous, at times machines that injure workers by crushing, amputating, burning and slicing them, workers use tools such as knives, hooks, scissors, and saws, injuries include cuts, stabs, infections, scars, scratches, missing fingers, swollen joints, working conditions are humid, slippery, loud, hot or below freezing resulting in respiratory problems, skin infections and falls, workers experience, irritating chemicals in poultry plants can cause health issues like chronic respiratory disorders, an average of 27 poultry workers a day suffer from work-related amputations or hospitalizations in the USA

Living conditions: poor, workers must process thousands of animals per day, they are pressured to work as fast as possible, rest breaks and bathroom breaks are discouraged or denied, many workers must wear diapers, they experience stress, physical and emotional pain, at poultry plants line speeds are 140 birds per minute

Wages: low, in the USA poultry workers are poorly compensated and earn under $15 an hour, they are often pushed to work faster so companies can profit more

Chicken has…

Where do most chicken come from?

The world’s top chicken exporting country is USA, followed by Brazil, Thailand, Netherlands, Poland, UK, Chile, Germany, Hong Kong, China.

Is chicken nutritious?

Chicken meat is high in protein, iron, and B complex vitamins but is also high in purines, cholesterol, saturated fat, antibiotics and hormones and sodium when prepared.

What are some vegan substitutes?

Check out this Vegan Substitutes List to see alternatives for meat, dairy, eggs, fish and more.

chicken is acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is chicken alkaline or acidic? Chicken is acidic. What is the pH level of chicken? Chicken has a 5.5 pH level once digested.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

chicken is gluten free when unbreaded and unseasoned.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is chicken gluten free? Yes, chicken is gluten free when unbreaded and unseasoned.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

chicken is not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is chicken a common food allergen? No, chicken is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to chicken but it is rare.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

chicken has a moderate water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does chicken have a high or low water footprint? Chicken has a moderate water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of chicken? It takes 4,325 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of chicken meat / 518 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of chicken meat.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake….quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of “water footprints”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

chicken has a high carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does chicken have a high or low carbon footprint? Chicken has a high carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of chicken? It takes around 6.9 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of chicken, a car driving equivalent of 16 miles or 25.75 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

There are a number of steps we can take to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

chicken is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is chicken eco friendly? Is chicken sustainable?

No. Chicken production is relatively unsustainable.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

chicken is not vegan.

chicken is not vegan

Is chicken vegan? No, chicken is not vegan. Chicken is meat, the product of a chicken, a type of bird, therefore making it an animal-derived food.

Animals of factory farming are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. Growth hormones allow all kinds of animals to become fatter faster and live short lives.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

chicken is a product with labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is chicken a product that has known labor issues? At this time, there are reports of worker mistreatment regarding poultry farming.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade.


Chicken, broilers or fryers, breast, meat only, cooked, roasted

Human rights watch:“When We’re Dead and Buried, Our Bones Will Keep Hurting” Workers’ Rights Under Threat in US Meat and Poultry Plants

Chicken and Food Poisoning | CDC

Viva slaughtered farmed animals

Poultry production and the environment

Chicken Market News Reports

Adriane Marie

As an educator, author and conscious consumer advocate, I study and organize ethical info for you to quickly see how our purchases impact animals, people and the planet. I hope you find this HEALabel knowledge useful and can apply it to your life for personal and societal improvement and empowerment.