While infamously anti-LGBTQ, Chick-fil-A isn’t alone in making problematic donations, or in serving chicken sandwiches with ethical costs.
A Daily Beast article recently revealed that despite Chick-fil-A’s decision to reorganize their donations (a fancy way of saying certain anti-LGBTQ organizations would not receive money in 2020, without pledging to stop such donations permanently), Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy is a notable donor to the National Christian Charitable Foundation. The NCF has been donating money to keep the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, from passing.
Chick-fil-A has come under fire in the past for making donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations, such as to Exodus International, a group that supports conversion therapy. Additionally, Cathy’s statements about biblical marriage sparked boycotts and outrage in 2012. With these things considered, the Daily Beast’s article didn’t come as a surprise. Calls to boycott Chick-fil-A resumed on Twitter, with some users even sharing the recipe for homemade Chick-fil-A sauce to make the idea of boycotting easier.
However, Chick-fil-A is just the beginning. Political action committees run by McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Bloomin’ Brands, controlled by Outback Steakhouse, donated thousands of dollars to representatives who voted against the Equality Act. Their donations haven’t been met with boycotts just yet.
Furthermore, if you’re looking for a more ethical chicken sandwich, simply switching to a different fast-food chain won’t do much good. KFC, Popeyes and Taco Bell get their meat from farms that heavily rely on immigrant labor, whose workers are often subjected to immigration raids and dangerous working conditions. These farms are also often scrutinized for how they treat their animals. It seems as if there’s no ethical option at all.
As a vegetarian, I simply steer clear of chicken sandwiches altogether. But I have eaten fries and other menu items from these chains without looking at the larger picture. It would be easy to boycott one single fast-food restaurant like Chick-fil-A, as I planned to do when I first found out that they donated to a pro-conversion therapy organization. However, now I’m going to feel guilty eating at almost any fast food restaurant.
It probably won’t be possible to avoid every single one of the aforementioned chains forever. Sometimes, being a college student, I have to take the cheapest option. While I’m at home, where I eat often depends on where my parents eat. I’d be hard-pressed to find any entirely ethical food product, whether I get it from a restaurant or a grocery store. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t try.
In an ideal world, boycotting one corporation wouldn’t mean supporting the unethical practices of another. But we don’t live in an ideal world. Unfortunately, our money will often be spent in ways we would rather it not be, and we don’t have as much control over that as we might like. What we can do is research the corporations we buy from so that we can at least make informed decisions, and call out unethical business practices, including — but not limited to — Chick-fil-A’s.