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.