What’s wrong with free-range eggs?

As a vegan, I have often been asked, “What’s wrong with eggs, especially free-range or ‘humane’ eggs?” “It’s not as if the eggs are all fertilized, and if we don’t eat them who will? “ “It would be a shame to just waste them.”

I knew already about the fact that in the egg industry, male chicks are disposed of extremely cruelly regardless of whether the issue is regular industrially farmed or free-range eggs. As they cannot lay eggs, male chicks are literally thrown out in garbage bags to suffocate, or ground up while fully conscious just minutes after breaking out of their little shells.


If you haven’t seen photos like the one above, you might ask how this could even be.

Female layers are de-beaked with a hot blade. A chicken’s beak is loaded with blood vessels, pain receptors, and nerve endings much like a human fingertip, so this process is extremely traumatic and is done without anaesthesia.


Then they are crammed into cages with others stacked high – one on top of another. Urine and feces fall from one level onto ones below. Many chickens die in their cages and they are not necessarily removed but remain to rot with live chickens in the same cage.

Then, after only a fraction of what their natural life span would be, they are literally spent and killed for human food.

It’s a very cruel industry.

If we care about animal welfare, we should not eat any kind of eggs, even free-range or ‘humane’ eggs.

In a natural environment, hens only lay eggs until they have a full nest. At this point, they stop laying eggs and begin nesting.

We interrupt this natural process when we remove eggs from the nest, thereby encouraging the chickens to lay more eggs to again fill their nest. So, even free range hens go through this stressful situation if we take their eggs from them.

It’s stressful on the hens as well because every egg that is laid involves great effort on the hen’s part. Hens sometimes die while laying their eggs as a result of the intense pressure on their laying organs. It can take over 30 hours for a hen to lay just one egg.

Laying eggs also involves a tremendous loss of calcium from the hen. This goes to producing the shell of the egg, protecting what would be their future babies.

When not interfered with, laying hens restore some of their calcium loss by eating their own eggs.

Famers are taught how to prevent hens from eating their own eggs, so that they can get to them first.

So you see, no matter what kind of eggs you are considering, all cause pain and suffering to hens. Free range eggs are definitely a better choice but neither is good and certainly neither is ‘humane’.

‘A sentient being’s body and its secretions are not things for us to eat, any more than a human being’s body and its secretions are things for us to eat. Consuming eggs (even from rescued chickens), or giving them away to people who would otherwise buy eggs from battery caged hens, does not “reduce suffering”, it legitimizes suffering, it demands suffering, It perpetuates suffering by condoning the very practice of violence we are struggling to end.

The hen may not know that her suffering body, her unfreedom, her isolation, and every misery in her life is inflicted intentionally, systematically, and solely for the sensory gratification of humans, but you do.

She may not know that the fertilized egg that brought her into existence was the result of confinement and rape, or that hens like her are the product of mass infanticide, but you do. She may not know that the cost of killing male infants, “spent” breeding parents and “spent” hens is built into the price of eggs, but you do. She may not know that, if we became vegan, the horrors that she and her kind are forced to endure would end, but you do.

Act on that knowledge. Become vegan and educate others about the violence and injustice inherent in all non-vegan choices. Rescue (don’t buy) chickens and other animals, respect their lives, and please remember to always give the eggs back to the birds: They are, after all, the only rightful owners.’

 -The Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

We do not need to eat eggs.  Let’s leave the chickens be.



6 thoughts on “What’s wrong with free-range eggs?

  1. It always makes me sick to read things like this. I have heard about the disastrous conditions under which chickens have to live many times, but it doesn’t make the fact better to know about it.
    My grandma actually has chickens in her own garden that are free and die of old age at one point, so their eggs you could eat. I don’t do it anyway, but I think this might be an exception. 🙂


  2. Me too Ayumi-it’s incredibly difficult to know about these things. Sharing with others might help change things. I don’t think people really know where their food comes from. If they did, maybe more people would choose ethically.


  3. Hey! Thanks for following my blog!
    Having been raised on a farm and kept chickens most of my growing up years, here’s just my input:
    Yeah, conditions on a lot of institutionalized farms are horrible, and they do unnatural things, leading to disease, death, etc. Feeding fast-growers hormones can make it so that they grow too fast to even walk (meat chickens). This is a sad practice.
    Chickens eat their eggs if they have a calcium deficiency, but sometimes they start to like it. We’ve had to separate hens (and mother rabbits, in fact) from newly-laid eggs and newly-born bunnies, because they will chip into them and eat them. We used to have a momma rabbit who would eat her babies if she was left with them. It was horrible and freaked me out as a kid. We also had a hen who started to eat her eggs. Not because of any deficiency. Because she had something wrong with her. None of the other hens were doing that.
    I had a pet chicken. Her name was Sweet Pea. She only laid an egg once in awhile, and was terrible about sitting on it. Certain chickens are. We ended up giving her eggs to another hen, who liked to sit on eggs, and she ended up hatching the babies.
    A hawk killed Sweet Pea one day when she was out of her pen. We had to keep our chickens in sometimes when we wanted to let them out, because there was a coyote or dog lurking around. Every day, when we let them out, they would return to their pen by themselves at night to sleep and eat.
    All this to say: Nature, by itself, is cruel. And making an animal suffer needlessly is bad. However, I still eat meat and eggs.
    Instead of going vegan, I would advocate moving to small farms and having everybody raise their own food. In search of cheaper food, there are so many practices in farming and in every industry that have become cruel or unhealthy.
    Bottom line: there are kind ways of eating animal produce. But these kindnesses usually are not possible on a large, cheap scale.
    Anyway. That’s my input. I’m gonna follow your blog, I always like to hear different viewpoints. 🙂 I’m really curious to know what kind of animal background you have. Were you raised around a lot of animals?


    • Thanks for your comment Mercy! I appreciate your viewpoint and your story about being raised on a farm and I’m happy you’ll be following me! I like what you said about advocating for moving to small farms and having everybody raise their own food and I do advocate for that with my non-vegan friends and have introduced many of them to local small-scale farmers as a start. I grew up in a big city – not around farm animals but I regularly visit and spend time on local farms near where I now live and have many farmer friends.
      My partner eats meat and dairy and he currently gets his meat and eggs from the local farmers we meet, spend time with, ask lots of questions of, and get to know quite well. This way we know the animals, how they are raised and we know how they will be killed. I am vegan and will stay vegan however, as I no longer believe we need animal products to live well and to live healthily. Before I became vegan, I ate ‘humanely’ raised meat and dairy products from these farmers but now I know that killing an animal is never humane. Even if we know the animal and even if it had a good life, it is never okay to take that life, especially for something we don’t even need. I believe that we do not have this right. I am not saying that everyone can be vegan in our world—I know that is not possible in some places, but it certainly is in my part of the world. So veganism is my choice. My choice is for the animals.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nice! Sounds like you’ve really thought about your choices and made choices and changes accordingly. That’s awesome. It’s also super awesome that you’re cool with people who do eat meat and stuff. 🙂 Some people start spouting off and then don’t actually change their lives according to what they say. 🙂 I think it’s awesome that you’ve really thought about your beliefs and taken steps because of it.
        I also agree that too many people eat too much meat, especially in the USA. Although on a farm, we didn’t eat a lot of meat (maybe once a week, if that) because we couldn’t afford it. Some people can’t seem to think of a recipe without any meat! lol.


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