PETA Brings Virtual Reality Program ‘I, Chicken’ to Pennsylvania College Campuses

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If you live in Pennsylvania and you’ve ever wondered what life looks like “from a poultry point of view,” PETA has you covered. The animal rights advocacy group has begun touring college campuses across Pennsylvania, CBS Philadelphia contributor Molly Daly reports, and they’re bringing along something called I, Chicken, which will give people an idea of what it feels like, literally, to go through life as a chicken.

According to PETA’s website, I, Chicken is a virtual reality (VR) simulator that transports human participants into “a world where they can flap their wings, communicate with other chickens, take dust baths, and engage in other natural chicken behavior.”

But anyone expecting a fun, feel-good simulation experience that might be found at Disneyland is likely to be disappointed with I, Chicken. Although the poultry perspective starts out as “an idyllic strut through a meadow,” it ends in a jarring trip to the slaughterhouse with your new feathery friends. Ultimately, the point of I, Chicken is to show people how much “factory farm” animals are abused and — hopefully — convince people to stop eating processed meats from companies that encourage inhumane living conditions and slaughtering practices.

The genius behind I, Chicken is that psychologists have been able to collaborate with VR developers to create a real-life simulation that “helps people develop empathy for chickens, who aren’t seen as individuals with interests, wants, and needs.” The PETA website states that I, Chicken uses innovative, high-tech VR hardware and computer systems; if you know anything about the enthusiastic advocates at PETA, you can be sure that every detail, right down to the VR goggles and server racks for the hardware, has been thoroughly researched and designed to produce the most realistic experience possible. In fact, PETA states that approximately 20 – 30% of participants decide, after experiencing virtual life as a chicken, that they want to stop eating factory farm chickens.

PETA plans to bring I, Chicken to over a hundred college campuses in the coming months, and if any Pennsylvanians missed PETA’s recent visit at the University of Pennsylvania, not to worry. I, Chicken is already set to visit Temple University on October 13th and 14th, and participants don’t need to be students in order to attend.

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