A few weeks ago, I published on here why I don’t consume dairy. No yoghurt, milk, cream or cheese, since all those things are made out of milk. Today I want to elaborate on another products I don’t consume as a vegan: eggs. Alike dairy, this is something most people don’t understand. People ask me a lot of questions about it too. What about free-range eggs or eggs from the chickens in my own yard? I don’t consume any eggs, and here’s why.
Misconceptions in veganism
As I said, just like with milk, people can’t comprehend why I don’t consume eggs. I hear mostly the same arguments: chickens produce eggs anyway, so why not eat them? And that is a difference from to cow milk, since cows don’t produce milk anyway. They produce that for their children. Chickens don’t. I have some different morals and arguments here, different from the arguments as to why I don’t consume dairy.
It’s all about ethics again this time, I’m not talking about the environmental, social or health aspects here. Also, I’d like to mention that I am talking about the egg industry here. There are two types of chickens in the industry, chickens for meat and chickens for eggs. As this article is not about meat, I’m talking about the chickens that are forced to lay eggs for humans.
So, here are all the ethical reasons why I don’t consume eggs.
1. Male chicks are shredded
In the industry chickens lay a lot of eggs. Most are used by humans, but some are taken away and hatched. This is to keep the same total amount of chickens that lay eggs. Chickens that are not laying enough eggs for us anymore are sent to the slaughterhouse, but they need to be replaced somehow. That’s why some eggs are hatched. Just like with milk, only females produce eggs. That is because an egg is an ovulation, it’s basically the period of a chicken (what in humans would be blood). So, when eggs are hatched, the sex is checked. Only the females produce eggs and so they are sent to the industry to lay eggs. But, the males don’t produce eggs and so are considered useless to the industry. That’s why they are shredded alive. Yes, you reading this right. Baby male chickens are shredded every day, in The Netherlands too. So, when you consume eggs you pay the industry to continue this horrendous practice and so are supporting the killing.
This argument also goes for free-range eggs or even chickens in your own backyard. This process always happens. If you have your own chickens, chances that are you only buy females because those are the only ones laying eggs. The males are shredded. So, when you buy female chickens you support again the killing of male chickens.
2. Calcium deficits in chickens
In the Netherlands there are no wild chickens anymore. Yet, if you would find a wild chicken in nature anywhere, they would lay about 10-20 eggs every year. Just like a human period basically, about once a month. In the industry, chickens lay about 300 eggs a year. That is 30 times as much. They are bred to produce more and more and more, so that they’ll be profitable for humans. The shell of an egg is made out calcium. Because the shells are made out of calcium and the chickens are bred to produce an excessive amount of eggs, the chickens often have calcium deficits. Where the calcium normally would go to the bones of the chickens, it now goes to the eggs that we then take from them. It causes chickens in the industry to break their legs, because the bones get weak.
3. In the end all ‘egg chickens’ are slaughtered
All animals that produce a product for us are in the end killed. Whether that’s dairy, eggs, wool, leather or anything else. They are seen as a product and not like a living individual with feelings and emotions. Chickens are forced all their lives to lay eggs for us, which we then take, until they are not productive anymore. And what do they get in return? Death. After a short life of harsh labor, we kill them like they are worthless. So then again, when you buy eggs you contribute to this killing as well. The chickens will not retire or have a good life after. They are slaughtered. When you pay for eggs, you pay the egg industry. And so, you’re saying: I support this, here’s my money to continue.
4. Most chickens have short lives and live in bare circumstances
When we think of eggs, we think about big field with a few chickens, free and happy. But is rather an exception that the rule. Cages are not forbidden in The Netherlands. In the Dutch system we have a ranking. One-star eggs, two-star eggs, three-star eggs and organic eggs. The circumstances we are talking about are still not good, the labels are just there to ease the conscience of the humans. It’s still crowded and stinky in all cases, the Dutch average is 20 chickens per square meter. When there is something wrong with a chicken, don’t think they’ll be sent to the veterinarian. They are worth so little to the industry (and to us consumers) that it’s more profitable to let them walk around with a broken leg for instance than to cure it. Then we also have the lifespan of the chickens. They don’t grow old. A chicken is alive for about 2 years before being sent to slaughter, where as they can get 10 years old in nature. Right when they are not productive enough any longer, they are sent to slaughter.
5. It’s about animal rights
I obviously can’t speak for all vegans, but I can speak for myself. As a vegan, I believe in animals rights. And no, this does not mean that chickens should have the same rights as humans, like voting etc. What I mean with this is that they are equal to us. I don’t see intelligence (even though I sometimes doubt whether humans are an intelligent species since we’re destroying our only home) as a reason to see us humans as ‘better’ than animals. And since I think we should be equal, I therefore think we don’t have a say over them if we don’t have to. I do think that because we can, we should help them whenever we can, but not overrule them and abuse them. We should not take anything that is not ours therefore, since eggs are not ours. The eggs belong to the chickens and they should decide what to do with it. I don’t feel like we humans have the right to take something from another species just for our own pleasure. Because that is what it is to me, pleasure, it’s not for mere survival since we don’t need eggs to survive (I am the living example of this).
These were all the ethical reasons as to why I don’t consume eggs. Do you consume eggs? Why (not)?