Did you know that the egg carton wasn’t invented until the early 1900s? Or that worldwide, around 1.2 trillion eggs are produced for eating every year? While you could look up hundreds of “fun facts” about eggs online, you’re not as likely to find out about the current state of the egg industry.
Want to know the world record of how fast a man can shove fifty eggs into his mouth? No problem, because the most that knowledge can do is give you a good chuckle (or make your stomach churn for a minute thinking about it). You want to learn something about the egg industry that will really affect what you believe to be true and what you know is right or wrong.
That’s going to be tough, considering that some of the truths you may find are the kind that could make or break the modern hatchery business. The egg industry tries to saturate the web and market with pleasant but ultimately false information about how eggs make it onto your plate, making the hard facts difficult to come by unless you’re ready to do some serious digging:
“The Egg Industry Doesn’t Require Death Like The Meat Industry Does”
What separates the vegetarians from the meat eaters is that vegetarians choose to espouse a lifestyle free from the deaths of animals for simple pleasures such as food. At least, that’s what I believed when I was vegetarian. I honestly did think that by cutting out meat from my life, I had stopped contributing to the death and slaughter of animals. That is, until I learned about practices by factory farms, producing eggs that kept the animals in such horrid conditions that death was almost impossible to avoid. And soon, I realized I had been blind to even the possibility of mistreatment of animals other than those used for their flesh. Of course…
It’s not hard to believe that the death of hatchery hens is caused by unsafe, unsanitary, and inhumane practices in factory farmed eggs. But, for many, it is hard to believe that the very nature of the egg industry necessitates death.
Eggs are a product of only one gender – females. So it stands to reason that the hatchery business only needs female chicks, and not male chicks.
How do they achieve this? Do they genetically engineer chickens who can only produce more females? This is, of course, not the case. Do they take all of the male chicks and ship them away to a cozy little all-male farm, where they can grow up and live their lives in peace and prosperity?
Or are they dropped into a grinding machine – tossed around by a spinning auger before being torn to pieces by a high-pressure macerator?
Here we have it: the cold, ugly truth. Male chicks do not get genetically weeded out before birth, nor do they get the idyllic Chick Heaven that your mother and father might have told you about when you were just a little kid and you didn’t want to eat your eggs. They are literally ground alive by a terrifying metal death trap because they offer no profit to the hatchery business.
Since roughly half of all chicks born will be male, it is simply implausible for any business to keep them alive. At the rate chickens are bred for food services, the world would be overflowing with male chickens if they weren’t disposed of. This is what makes it necessary for egg production – as a whole, and not just specifically in particularly inhumane factory conditions – to partner with the routine practice of slaughter. Even independent farmers who buy their chicks and set up a small operation have likely bought from a supplier who kills all the males in similar fashion.
“Chickens Could Care Less About What Happens to Their Eggs”
Let’s say, for whatever reason, you remain unfazed. Perhaps you’re not concerned about what happens to male chickens, only female chickens. You put the well-being of hens first and foremost in your mind when it comes to the production of eggs. And when we believe what the “humane” egg industry tells us, we’re led to accept the idea that chickens could care less about what happens to the eggs we take from them. So long as we keep them warm at night and feed them, they’re happy as a hen can be, right?
There’s reason to believe that this simply isn’t the case. Chickens might even be able to mourn the loss of their eggs, and overcompensate for that loss with increased egg-laying in a frantic attempt to fill the void in their nest. The egg-laying process itself takes a great deal of strength and effort from a hen, and to have a hen work herself over the limit just so we can sell her eggs or eat them ourselves does not seem like the definition of kindness, compassion, and understanding towards animals.
“Eggs are Essential For Baking and Cooking”
Even after seeing the ways that cruelty might just be written into the very nature of the whole egg business, big factory or small farm, you can’t deny the fact that eggs are just essential for some things, right? That without eggs, we wouldn’t be able to make cakes, cookies, muffins, pastries, omelettes, breakfast scramble, poached eggs, deviled eggs, egg salad, and all of our other egg-filled favorites.
But as essential as they may seem to creating classic, delicious meals and snacks, eggless cooking and baking is much more plausible than egg enthusiasts might make it out to be. Not only are there standard egg replacers on the market like Ener-G Egg Replacer, but there are a thousand other non-animal based ingredients which can take on the texture or purpose of eggs in any recipe you have. Why not try out some of these great eggless french toast recipes, this gluten-free vegan chocolate gelato, or these super impressive eggless deviled “eggs?”
Eggs are well-known for being extremely high in cholesterol, so not only can you try an eggless diet for animals, but for your own health as well. The animals would thank you if they could; your body will thank you for treating it right. The only ones who won’t thank you is the egg industry, scrambling to cover up the tracks of their unruly business with more lies about “free range” eggs or needing eggs to keep you strong and healthy (despite being compared in recent studies to being just as bad for your health as smoking).
So, if not for the sake of all the chickens and chicks suffering at the hands of this industry, consider giving up eggs for your own sake!
Image source: Katie Brady/Wikimedia Commons