Last week, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced that it will be serving more than 52 million pounds (or about 200 million meals) of naturally raised meat in 2008, a 40 percent increase from last year. This move is part of the chain’s “food with integrity” campaign, which began in 2000. Whether or not you’re a fan of Chipotle’s thousand-calorie burritos, it’s impressive to hear how highly Bill Niman, founder of Niman Ranch, speaks of the company:

Chipotle has done more to positively influence the landscape of rural America than any other company or government program. … When Chipotle began working with Niman Ranch, there were fewer than 50 family-owned pig farms in the system. Today more than 500 family farms adhere to a humane, natural method, and that’s because Chipotle has provided those farmers a fair market for their pork.

Still, the animal-rights activists of PETA want Chipotle to consider the rights of all the animals on its menu. PETA told that:

Chipotle uses chickens that are hung upside-down by their legs in metal shackles that break their bones before they are shocked with electrified current, have their throats slit while they are still conscious, and are dropped into tanks of scalding water.

According to the Rocky Mountain News, PETA is asking Chipotle—and other fast food chains—to contract with chicken suppliers that use the method of slaughter wherein “the oxygen that chickens breathe is slowly replaced by inert gases.” Apparently, death by asphyxiation, though it sounds rather slow and painful, is considered “less cruel” by animal-rights activists.

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