In Honor of World Egg Day
Or: Why eggs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be…
Yesterday, an unsuspecting PR person sent me a cheery message, informing me that October 9 is World Egg Day, offering me recipes to share on my website. I think sometimes we are just put on a list of those who create food content and you would be shocked at the variety of animal torture people are trying to get this 25-year vegan to promote, something even just a quick glance at our URL should have prevented. In return, the PR person got a link to my story about the hidden cruelties of the egg industry and a couple of memes for good measure. Let’s hope for everyone’s sake I am no longer on her mailing list.
Simply put, laying hens are some of the most brutalized and invisibilized animals on the planet, especially curious as there are more than 340 million birds in egg production at any moment in the United States alone, with an average hen laying nearly 295 eggs per year, their very reproductive systems exploited and weaponized in the most cruel way against them to add to the more than 99 billion eggs generated in the U.S. in just 2019 alone.
In stark contrast, the Red Jungle Fowl, which is thought to be the wild ancestor of the modern domesticated laying hen, will lay between 10–15 eggs a year in the wild. This increase of 20–30 times more eggs laid per year has turned these curious, sensitive birds into veritable production machines and it comes at a tremendous cost to them because they are not machines, they are living beings. As a consequence of their reproductive systems being engineered and hijacked to serve human demands, these birds suffer from unimaginably painful conditions including but not limited to cloaca prolapse (when internal tissues protrude from the body and observed in more than 30 percent of layer hens in one study), osteoporosis and broken bones due to the calcium depletion of intense egg production and brutal confinement, and peritonitis, a deadly condition where the yolk of the unlaid egg is deposited in the bird’s abdomen due to damage to their oviducts. This is not including the pain of debeaking without anesthesia or follow-up care, debilitating foot conditions and the everyday stress of being naturally territorial prey animals deprived of their instinctive habits.
As I wrote in my earlier story about egg production, just as the dairy industry has the unwanted but inevitable consequence of the birth of male calves in forced reproduction, so does the egg industry have an “end product” that is worthless to them.
“With no place for male chicks in egg production, it is estimated that over 260 million cockerel chicks in the U.S. each year are killed as soon as they have had their sexes determined by industry workers very shortly after hatching. In the U.S., the unwanted male chicks can be killed in any crude and cheap method available because they, like all birds, are not protected by even the very low standards of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (commonly known as the Humane Slaughter Act): suffocation, maceration in high-speed grinders, asphyxiation and even stomping are all acceptable slaughter methods for these newborn chicks, peeping for their mothers but worthless to an industry.”
I don’t write any of this to shame anyone.
I write this because so many compassionate people simply don’t know and I believe that if they did, they would not support the egg industry, and, well, the industry is not going to pull back the curtain. For 13 years, I was a vegetarian for ethical reasons and I still consumed eggs (along with dairy and I wore leather as well) because I didn’t know any better. I did not know my support of these industries was in direct conflict with my values of compassionate living. If I did, I would have immediately withdrawn my support. The fact that I was unaware was due in no small part to the opaqueness and federal buttressing of these industries.
I know better now, so I do better.
I hope you will consider layer chickens on World Egg Day: the mother hens themselves, their baby chicks and the consequences of this labor-abusing, polluting, dirty industry on our planet. If we all step up to the plate and don’t put eggs on them, we can do enormous good for these birds that desperately need our kindness and consideration.
If you’re looking to start replacing eggs, I have some suggestions for you. Check out this resource for egg substitutions in baking and here are some recipes for savory options like Tofu Rancheros, Red Pepper and Greens Omelet, Tofu Scramble and Chickpea Omelette Sandwiches. There are also commercial plant-based egg replacers that can be found with a quick search online. I will also recommend checking out our free Guide for New Vegans for lots of ideas and support.
Last, please consider sending some financial support to the good people who have dedicated their lives to making the world a more compassionate place through their hands-on, often thankless rescue work. Animal sanctuaries work on shoestring budgets to bring some comfort, kindness, relief and dignity to the survivors of animal agribusiness. You can find sanctuaries just searching around, but I am going to direct your eyes to some smaller ones who are often overlooked and deserve your support, like Broken Shovels Farm Sanctuary, Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary, SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary, Terra Farm Sanctuary and Tiny Hooves Sanctuary. (And if it’s not too obnoxious, to say that you can support the free content creation we do at Vegan Street for as little as one dollar a week.)
Anyway, Happy World Egg Day. Let’s do better. And please, PR people promoting animal agribusiness, take me off your mailing lists. I am not peddling this misery.