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I love having conversations about chickens. Luckily, I get to chat about chickens quite often through my work with United Poultry Concerns and other animal advocacy, but my joy can turn quickly to frustration as I often get asked which eggs are ethical to eat. People are always cooking up potential scenarios, “What if it’s from my local, natural foods store? They research and only buy the best of the best” or, “If the eggs are from the farmer’s market, then it’s ok, right?” or, “If it’s a neighbors chicken, or my own chicken, and I know that she is having a good life and won’t be killed, can I eat the eggs?”

The answer to all of these possible situations is “No.” Here’s why:

As long as eggs are considered food, hens will be considered a food production unit. Even if there is this implausible, rare, ideal circumstance where the hen is actually in totally humane conditions (and if you are buying an egg, it is almost assuredly that this is not the case), there is no way we could feed over seven billion people this way. It simply can’t be done profitably.

We must stop looking at a chicken’s eggs, and her flesh for that matter, as food. We cannot consider animals as commodities any more. No matter how ethical one operation wants to be – mistreatment, abuse, misery and corruption will exist in another operation. If we truly care about a humane, cruelty-free future, we must end the use of animals as food.

Buying Eggs from the Natural Foods Store or Farmer’s Market

If you are buying eggs from a health food store or even a farmer’s market, no matter the size of the farm or the label on the carton, there are hidden cruelties that are economically necessary to making income on eggs.

Egg farms can’t profitably hatch their own chicks. They purchase chicks from huge, heartless hatcheries where the baby birds are hatched not in a warm nest with a mother hen’s love and affection, but rather they are thrust into a frightening world of conveyor belts and metal machinery, roughly tossing them about like inanimate objects. The males don’t grow fast enough to be profitable for meat, so they are killed just hours after hatching by the millions. Thrown away alive in dumpsters outside the hatcheries to slowly die of exposure and dehydration or ground up alive in maceration machines for fertilizer or other products.

Just because there is a label on the eggs that says “humane” or “cage-free” or “free-range” almost certainly does not mean that these hens lived a happy life. Many of these farms are still over-crowding debeaked hens in windowless warehouses where they suffer in filth.

A small, cage-free or free-range farm will not be able to feed all the chickens whose egg production has waned. They can’t profitably “retire” hundreds of hens, so birds that are only a couple years old will be killed by brutal methods such as slow and painful gassing, being buried alive and throat slashing when they could (and want to) live many more years of life.

Getting Eggs From a Neighbor or Small Farm “Down the Street”

There may be scenarios where someone is able to get eggs from a neighbor or a small farm in their area. And perhaps the hens appear to be living the “good life” on this farm or in a backyard. What’s wrong with those eggs? First of all, you don’t know the whole story. Even a neighbor could have purchased the chicks from a feed store or from mail order, thereby giving money to the cruel hatchery industry and subjecting new born chicks to the horrors of being shipped through the mail. The only ethical way to obtain a chicken is to rescue her from a sanctuary, humane society, or from a bad situation.

But even if the hens were rescued, have a clean, protected enclosure and will be able to live out their lives in peace, (which is rarely the case), we still should not eat their eggs. Such an improbable situation could only feed very few people in a rural area with access to this backyard or small farm. This operation would not be able to consistently supply the neighborhood, or local restaurants or groceries for that matter. To be profitable, they would have to start purchasing chicks and “getting rid of” the chickens that are not producing efficiently. They would need to start keeping more hens in a smaller space and so it starts; going down the same road that lead us to industrial, factory farming.

This romanticized notion that we can go back to pastoral days of small, ethical farming is a delusion. Confining, breeding and farming animals for their flesh and bodily secretions was never humane. As long as we consider eggs food, the probability for exploitation will always be present. “Humane” farming of chickens to feed the billions of people on the planet is impossible.

The Real Ethical Choice

You may eat only eggs that you think are ethical, but you are then identifying as an egg eater. Let’s say that you are at a friend’s house and she baked some muffins. She says there are eggs in them, but they are from a “good source.” Because you eat eggs, you believe her, and don’t think much about it and eat a muffin. But that “good source” could be a cage-free farm where the hens are debeaked, never feel the sun on their feathers or the earth beneath them and live a short, miserable life.

The better scenario is to say, “Thanks, but I’m vegan” and not eat the muffin. This demonstrates that it is highly suspect that the eggs were from happy hens and we are choosing not to exploit animals for their bodies anymore. You can then bake some delicious vegan muffins for your friend to try next time!

As long as a hen’s eggs, or her flesh, are considered food, there is the potential for abuse. Assuming that we can feed the billions people on the planet with “backyard” eggs is a fantasy. As I say in my book The Ultimate Betrayal, “It is not our methods of animal agriculture that need to change, it is our unwillingness to give up animal products and animal farming.” We must stop this cycle of use and abuse, live a truly cruelty-free lifestyle, and stop eating eggs.

Image source: Thomas Kais/Wikimedia Commons

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0 comments on “Is There Really Such a Thing as an Ethical Egg? The Hidden Cruelty Involved in All Egg Production”

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Michael Harris
2 Years Ago

Dear Facebook Friends,

‘JESUS’ Message to the Church\' is l o n g, hey. Sorry that it is so l o n g....

Basically the main reasons to STOP; and become a Vegan are :

1. JESUS would NOT be a \'meat eater\' in 2015. *
2. It is not NECESSARY to be a \'meat eater\' in 2015.
3. It is terribly terribly CRUEL to be a \'meat eater\' in 2015.
4. It is SELFISHLY Destroying Planet Earth to be a \'meat eater\'.
5. It is Bad for your and your Children\'s HEALTH to be a \'meat eater\'.
6. It causes World Hunger/STARVATION of People/Children in 2015.
7. SET AN EXAMPLE. Teach the People.......especially our Children.

So .... Speak Up; Speak Out for the Animals - they have no \'Voice\'.

There is much evidence - Facts and TRUTH - both Secular and Scriptural - to support you to STOP. Visit a few Vegan sites. You will read and see Pictures and Videos that will SHOCK you badly.

I hope that helps, Thank you for reading \'my Message to the Church\'.

* When Paul says to us : “ … If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning”. Romans 14 : 23. NLT.

(this relates to our Conscience/s; this \'backs-up\' what James, JESUS\' own Brother, said)

* “Therefore to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin”. James 4 : 17. NKJ.

* (so, there can be no mistake here - if a Christian - especially a Church Leader/Evangelist chosen and Called by GOD - knows that it is NOT RIGHT and that it is GOOD to STOP, but then she/he makes the Conscious CHOICE in 2015 to \'carry-on-regardless\' (not STOP) then to him/her it is Sin. Simple. Hard to admit. But it is Sin. GOD said so. It Is Written. In the Bible. One thing nobody must EVER do is to say that JESUS would commit a Sin in 2015. It is Blasphemy. JESUS Never did and Never will Commit a Sin, not even a tiny sin. It is IMPOSSIBLE. Nobody can make JESUS a Sinner just to be able to continue to be a “meat eater” in 2015. It is the “meat eaters” who are the Sinner, according to Scripture. NOT JESUS. I mean Really !).

S stands for SEE …. the Facts and the TRUTH in 2015.
T stands for TRUTH …. in 2015.
O stands for ONLY …. eat Plant life in 2015.
P stands for PRAY …. to GOD in 2015 and always.
Lord Bless, Michael.

26 Mar 2015

Are you seriously preaching to all of us like this? This isn\'t about animal welfare - just be clear with yourself about that. And it\'s not about God or Jesus. This is pure ego - yours.

Michael Harris
2 Years Ago

‘JESUS’ Message to the Church\' :

Dear Brother in Christ, Evangelist, Pastor Bobby Schuller thank you for your positive and love-filled Teaching/s, always. You are a Great Inspiration to Millions right-around-the-whole-wide-World. Praise be to GOD for you - the way you see/understand and Preach The Message. Well done, Sir. Lord Bless, Michael. Please Pray, Teach, Preach on this in JESUS’ Name :

GOD had laid it on my heart to write to you as follows :
Boy eats cat – gets 10 months sentence :
Insane indeed ! \'The Righteousness of a \'man\' covers over much sin\' ! Whales; Dolphin; Rhinos; even Elephants; Cats; Dogs; - these are a NO NO (at least mostly \'in the West\') - AND WELL THEY SHOULD BE- don\'t get me wrong !

But when almost every single World Renown, World Famous Minister/ Preacher/ Pastor/Evangelist Preaches Righteousness. Then they step down from the Pulpit in his/her Church, or off his/her TV Stage - to eat his/her plate of mostly hot (but can be cold) parts/portions of GOD\'s very own Slaughtered Creature/animal - all is Good. (So nice and tasty). Preaching, Teaching Righteousness and Holiness has nothing to do with what \'man\' kills and eats - so long as it is not another \'man\' or his/her so-called \'pet\' - like in this case somebody\'s cat. Nothing Insane in that - I mean in killing and eating all but another \'man\' and someone\'s cat. These Women/Men of GOD CHOOSE to continue to be a party to the killing and the eating of GOD\'s very own Slaughtered Creature/animals. GOD does not prohibit it, or command them NOT to. GOD always gives to \'man\' a CHOICE. They CHOOSE to continue, knowing the Truth and the Facts in 2015.

From the Cow comes what is commonly referred to as yum yum meat i. e. yum yum steak, yum yum liver, yum yum kidney, yum yum heart, yum yum tongue, yum yum brain, yum yum eye (I think more Eastern ?) yum yum veal (baby Cow), yum yum tripe (I think stomach and entrails etc), yum yum minced meat and burgers (any parts \'left over\'), and of course let us not forget the yum yum dairy products like milk and cheese. Yum yum ‘designer’ leather clothes, shoes, bags, belts etc come also from the yum yum Cow. Then there are the parts/portions of GOD\'s very own slaughtered Creature/animal that come from yum yum Chicken, and their yum yum babies (eggs); From yum yum Game come yum yum buck, yum yum elephant, yum yum crocodile,yum yum rhino, yum yum snake and basically any of GOD\'s very own yum yum Creatures/animals that dare to move over our Planet Earth. Yum yum sheep and goat - ditto - . Yum yum Fish. It is a must; and all sea-Creatures - including yum yum Whale (mostly Eastern), yum yum Dolphin. Eating raw fish is good. Eating fish alive is the preference of some (mostly Eastern ?).

Talk about Sane and Insane ! I appeal to these Ministers/Preachers/ Pastors/Evangelists .... Please Pray about, Preach, Teach and Promote \'Our Message to the Church\' which is this :

JESUS says to us : “ … My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. … 2 Cor. 12:9. NKJ.

The RIGHTEOUSNESS of a \'man\' covers over much sin.

Please Pastor Evangelist Bobby Pray about this; Preach and Teach this - because it is Right. It is BIG. It is destroying our Planet Earth: Killing GOD’s very own Creatures/animals to eat them, or for their fur, or to torture as \'guinea pigs\' : How CRUEL and SELFISH and UNCARING and BARBARIC and DISGUSTING and WRONG and UNNECESSARY and and and ……….. in \'the Garden of Eden\' and in \'Heaven\' man did not/will not kill or eat GOD\'s very own Creatures/animals; JESUS Himself taught \'... Thy Will be done in earth as it is in Heaven ...\'. My fellow-Christians; Brothers and Sisters in Christ .... WAKE UP ! Be the shining \'light on the hill\'; be the \'lamp in the window\'; the Chosen Ones; Priests; Friends of JESUS the Christ; be the Leaders in the World. Stop to kill and stop to eat GOD\'s very own Creatures/animals. It is 2015, not 0-100 AD ! We have the facts; we know the Truth/s; it is NOT NECESSARY to kill and to eat GOD\'s very own Creatures/animals in the year 2015 ! And the CRUELTY ! I mean, COME ON my fellow-Christians; Brothers and Sisters in Christ .... WAKE UP ! Lord Bless, Michael.

What is the Greatest SIN that a \'man\' is guilty of ? : When a \'man\' - having understanding and knowledge - does not act in accordance with the GOD-given ego-consciousness that \'he\' has been Blessed with, but blasphemes the Holy Spirit of GOD.

“Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil”. Romans 14 16 NIV.

“ … If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning”. Romans 14 : 23. NLT.

“Therefore to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin”. James 4 : 17. NKJ.

Why do I reach out to Church Leaders and to Evangelists ? What is the reason that I reach out to them in the Mighty Name of JESUS the Christ - the Name that is above all names in Heaven or on Planet Earth ? Because : 1. It was suggested to me by JESUS Him-very-SELF to do so. 2. To try to open their eyes and their ears to the Word/Truth Re their own individual CHOICE, as powerful Christians and Leaders, on this \'subject\'. 3. To high-light to them the potential that GOD has bestowed upon them for them to influence their Congregations/listeners. These are brilliant Pastors and TV Evangelists. They are in a position to guide and teach their very own Church Congregation and their followers around the whole-wide-world via their TV Preaching and their Great Facebook Sermons and Bible quotes and references etc. Praise the GOOD Lord JESUS. 4. It is to do with \'man\'s\' CHOICES - that GOD left to \'man\'. We can CHOOSE to continue to eat like we have done; or we can CHOOSE not to. Simple. Hard; but Simple. Where, oh where, is your own Personal Conscience you Great ‘Men/Women’ of GOD ? You who SEEK the Wisdom and the Understanding Deep down in the Word …. what is your Own Personal Level of Consciousness, my Brother/Sister in Christ ?

If you will kindly email me at [email protected] or if you will state your email address here (under ‘comment/s’) then I will send you – per email - what the GOOD JESUS Lord told me in 2015. It is in a booklet that I had printed \'A Meal with JESUS and a poem\'. It is free. I do not ask for Rands before I will email it to you. Praise the GOOD Lord JESUS. I send to you my Christian love; Lord Bless, Michael.

P. S. If you want me to Pray for you … please just ask me. I Pray for free. I ask for no Rands before I Pray for you. Even if you don’t ask me … I Pray to our GOD, in JESUS’ Name, to ‘open your eyes and your ears to the Truth’… that it is your CHOICE. Look around at the Practical Real situation Re this UNNECESSARY Slaughtering and eating habit in 2015 – how terribly CRUEL it is. Read up and LISTEN to the Facts - what is being said; LISTEN to your Own Sweet Conscience, my Neighbour …. my Brother/Sister in Christ. amen.

S stands for SEE …. the Facts and the TRUTH in 2015.
T stands for TRUTH …. in 2015.
O stands for ONLY …. eat Plant life in 2015.
P stands for PRAY …. to GOD in 2015 and always.

Michael Harris
2 Years Ago

Excellent Article.

Here is Our* latest Appeal to the Church Leaders and the Evangelist Leaders around-the-whole-wide-World. I do Hope and Pray that you agree. Please pass on/share. Thanks a Million ! I send to you my Christian love, Lord Bless, Michael :

Dear Pastor Evangelist ****,

We* Appeal to You and we* Challenge You :

We* say that being a “meat eater” in 2015 is Sinning. Whereas, we* find that most (nearly all) Christians say that being a “meat eater” in 2015 is not Sinning.

Therefore we* Appeal to you and we* Challenge you :

Re the Word of GOD “dominion” – in Geneses 1 : 28. NKJ.

1. Please : Meditate, Pray, Preach, Teach on the Scriptural TRUTH contained in, among many others, the following Bible verses :
“Your Kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6 : 10. NKJ.
“ … My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. … 2 Cor. 12:9. NKJ.
“Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil”. Romans 14 16 NIV. “ … If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning”. Romans 14 : 23. NLT. “Therefore to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin”. James 4 : 17. NKJ.

2. Please : Meditate, Pray, Preach, Teach on scientifically proven Facts. In order to gather together the scientifically proven Facts that are available to you in 2015 :

2.1 Please : Visit any 4 x Vegan sites of your own personal CHOICE - on the Internet. Do it for your own edification … so that you can properly fulfill your GOD-Given-Calling. (If you have a wife/husband, Children, Grand-Children, family relatives, then share Reading the Reports with them. Look at the Pictures with them. Watch the Videos with them – even invite your Elders and your friends …. even your whole Congregation …. to participate with you in gathering the scientifically proven Facts.)

2.2 Please : Visit 4 x ‘Factory Farms’ to inspect for yourself, first-hand, how Animals (GOD’s-Very-Own-Creatures) are ‘grown’ ‘fed’ ‘housed’ ‘transported’ ‘Murdered/Slaughtered’ ‘packaged and parceled’. Such ‘outings’ should, where possible, include your family (more especially your Children/Grand-Children – Children are ‘impressionable’, hey); your Elders; your friends; your whole Congregation … as we* say, if possible.
NOTE : You may want to visit, say, 2 x abattoirs … to ‘get the picture’. This is an option … because in 2015 ‘Factory Farms’ are probably doing enough ‘Murdering/Slaughtering’ ‘on site’ for you to ‘get the picture’, hey. If you do decide to extend your understanding and your knowledge Re this ‘Subject’, then remember, where possible, to take your family (especially your Children); Elders; friends; Congregation.

3. Please : Meditate, Pray, Preach, Teach on ‘Our Message to the Church’. If you will kindly email michael at [email protected] or if you will state your email address here (under ‘comment/s’) then michael will send to you – per email - what the GOOD JESUS Lord told him in 2013. It is in a booklet that he had printed \'A Meal with JESUS and a poem\'. It is free. He does not ask for Rands before he will email it to you. Praise the GOOD Lord JESUS.

We* send to you Our* Christian love; Lord Bless.
We* = JESUS and michael.

P. S. If you want us* to Pray for you … please just ask us*. We* Pray for free. We* ask for no Rands before we* Pray for you. Even if you do not ask us* … we* Pray to our GOD, in JESUS’ Name, to ‘open your eyes and your ears to the TRUTH’… that it is your CHOICE. Look around at the Practical Real situation Re this UNNECESSARY UN-CHRISTIAN Murdering/Slaughtering and eating habit in 2015 – how terribly CRUEL it is. How SELFISHLY Earth-DESTROYING it is; how BAD for HEALTH including the HEALTH of the CHILDREN it is; how ‘man’ is causing STARVATION of People especially CHILDREN; how Christians are Teaching and Setting Such a Bad EXAMPLE to others, including even their very own CHILDREN. Read up and LISTEN to the scientifically proven Facts - what is being said; LISTEN to your Own Sweet Conscience, our* Neighbour …. our* Brother in Christ. amen.

S stands for SEE …. the Facts and the TRUTH in 2015.
T stands for TRUTH …. in 2015.
O stands for ONLY …. eat Plant life in 2015.
P stands for PRAY …. to GOD in 2015 and always.

Davida Prather-Quinn
2 Years Ago

One Green Planet emails have turned me into a near vegan, but it\'s because you mostly avoid the kind of agenda-driven overstatement this article is full of. I have friends who raise chickens for eggs and they have a fine life (and the chicks come from their hens). People who keep bees or raise goats for food or chickens for eggs - these farmers can be ethical and humane. They can keep whole species alive and should be encouraged, not villified. Your author gives herself away when she says, "We must stop look at hen\'s eggs as food." This is not an argument about humane treatment of animals; this is the bias that drives her article. And this one: "...but then you are identifying as an egg eater." !!! So we\'re not interested in facts, just labels..

Monica Bal
03 Apr 2015

Hens are not here for our use. If we hadn\'t genetically manipulated them to lay an unnatural number of eggs, they would lay less than 2 dozen per year. Laying several hundred per year is unnatural, depletes their calcium, and causes problems with their reproductive tract. If it were you being "kept" for your bodily secretions and eventually murdered when you stopped producing that secretion, I\'m guessing you\'d be less eager to claim that those keeping you were ethical and humane or that you had a fine life. It\'s really pretty simple--if you don\'t lay the eggs, they\'re not yours.

2 Years Ago

Please forgive this obvious question, but I can never find a definitive answer for some reason. Do chickens just naturally lay eggs all the time? Do you need a rooster to get them to do it? I know we eat unfertilized eggs. So do hens must just drop them naturally, all the time, like a human woman drops an egg once a month? Is this the case?

Angela Roberts
26 Mar 2015

Hi Denise, yes today\'s chickens do lay eggs all the time - well about 1 every 36 hours (unless they are in intensive systems that push them to lay twice each day - with no need for a rooster at all. Naturally these jungle birds would lay 2-3 batches per year, but of course we have intervened and made them lay more profitably. So basically an egg is a hens period!

26 Mar 2015

Hi Denise,

I have 4 hens that typically will lay every day to every other day in the warmer months. No rooster, as they are not allowed in the city limits where I live. My girls completely stop laying once it gets cooler and the days are shorter. They are similar, as you stated, to humans. They drop an eggs whether fertilized by a male or not.


2 Years Ago

There are very rare situations where it is not unethical to eat eggs. After being a vegan for 12 years (a vegetarian for 19 prior) I considered getting chicks from a hatchery to raise as pets and for eggs for my grown sons and to share with friends. After doing a very small amount of research, I discovered that the male baby chicks are killed at the hatcheries because they are not considered as "valuable" as the egg laying females. At that point, I decided against pet chickens. However, I reached out to a wonderful animal rescue farm where I have volunteered on many occasions and adopted a dog from to ask about adopting hens. These hens are rescued from various situations and are in need of forever homes. They are adopted out from Pasado only as pets and only after a home visit to ensure that the home is suitable for chickens. I adopted four sisters, love them dearly, will provide for them until they pass on due to old age, and will collect and share their eggs as long as they\'re laying them. Otherwise, they go in the compost. My decision to be a vegan is based on my belief that no living creature should come to harm for my entertainment or taste buds. Although I am not a true vegan when my hens are laying and I\'m consuming their eggs, I stand by my belief that no living being will be harmed for the sake of my taste buds.


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