My daughter was a vegetarian for a few years... she was told by her doctor that if she wanted to have healthy children (when it was time), she needed more variety in her diet. So now she includes meat in her diet.
We had long discussions about eating animals... she didn't even want to have cheese or milk products or eggs, because of the horrors of some farms she head seen on the internet.
We live in farm country, btw. I told her not all farms operate the same and she should patronize farms that used best practices and where the animals live happy lives... free range chicken, non-caged veal, etc.
Humans are designed to be omnivores... another reason we are on the top of the food chain. Certain other animals who are herbavores can "convert" their diet to omnivorous if they have to, which increases their chances of their survival (our friend the Pacu comes to mind).
Even birds are onmivores (eating seeds, bugs and worms) and some are carnivores (buzzards, vultures). The point here is, if the animals who are our food are treated with the care and respect they deserve - they are saving and improving our lives, for goodness sake - they eating them is as nature (dare I say God? Oops, I dared) intended things to be.
We are natural omnivores. It is healthier for us. Of course, eating too much meat is bad. But having regular, decent-sized portions of meat are necessary for our long-term health. We are made for it! If we were herbivores our digestive tract and teeth would be completely different.
Ok, ok, farm gal again! Free range is actually more torture to chickens. Keeping them in cages is beneficial to their over-all health and mental well-being. Humans look at conditions and think, "chicken in cage! GASP!" When they know nothing about social behaviors about chickens or the dangers of being free-range.
I've been a very strict vegetarian for twelve years, and I've recently been cutting down on dairy and eggs too. Humans don't need meat to survive or even to be healthy, so my thoughts are, why cause other animals unnecessary pain and suffering? Humans do not have to eat meat, so I just can't see the justification for killing an animal simply because it tastes good or is convenient.
Yes, GMD! I will! Bear with me though I am on my phone.
Chickens are fed the same diet on free range as inside cages. Yep, same steroids and all! But, you cannot control what else the chicken is eating besides their feed. You don't know if they're eating feces, leaves, dirt, etc. While inside a cage their feces drops below them meaning they have ZERO contact with it meaning safer/healthier for us AND them. While 'free ranges they never really are. They are just allowed to walk around in huge crowds of other chickens which means all kinds of feces, urination, etc. Bad news!
Also, while free range they are often attacked by predators meaning many more injured/dead animals. So if they're not our meal, they are another's! They are much more susceptible to diseases which they can pass onto us, or will die from. You may think, well wont diseases spread faster when confined? Here's the thing, while caged and in a building they can control who goes in. People must go in while wearing shoe coverings, full suits, and masks. They also control chickens going in which means diseases are much harder to reach them.
Caged chickens also all get the same amount of feed. Chickens do establish a 'pecking order' and many chickens will literally starve to death while free range from such bad bullying. In cages they all can be rationed and fed. Also, so much easier to control what they eat because there is nothing else to eat. As well, you can monitor their feces to change diet appropriately.
Chickens in cages can be vaccinated easier, every single one can be examined daily, and they will all be given proper medical care because they are available to see them all while free range you can miss a bunch.
My last point for now (if you have more questions I will answer I mean) is that chickens have very bad social anxiety. Being in large groups are very nerve-racking and anxiety-inducing to them. Also, as I said, they like to have a dominance order. Constantly mixing in new chickens and having hundreds together is lousy for their mental well-being. While in a cage they have about 4 constant neighbors they will known and establish themselves with, giving them a good piece of mind.