When you eat an egg you are supporting the murder of hundreds of millions of male chicks every year (200,000,000 – two-hundred million in the United States alone). They are killed by the hundreds of thousands every day by being thrown in a dumpster and left to die, tossed in garbage bags and suffocated, or more commonly, by being ground up alive in meat grinders.
But why do they need to do this? Wouldn’t it be more profitable to kill them for meat?
Actually, it is more profitable to kill male chicks by the millions because the money spent raising them wouldn’t be worth the money earned in profits. It takes a lot of food, shelter and water to raise a chick into a full-grown chicken. Boy chickens simply will not grow as big or as fast as female chickens. They also are not able to produce eggs. Their bodies are a liability that must be disposed of before they start eating too much into the farm’s profits, so they cut their losses early and “humanely euthanize” (aka grind up) baby chicks that are only a day old.
Every time you buy a carton of eggs, whether they are conventional, organic, free-range, cage-free, certified humanely raised, etc., you are in effect paying for the murder of hundreds of millions of baby animals.
Though the males die a relatively quick death, the females will live their entire lives in giant warehouses holding hundreds of thousands of birds in tiny battery cages so small that they can’t even stretch one wing. They are treated by humans as egg-laying machines with little to no regard for their basic biological and behavioral needs.
Many conventionally raised egg-laying hens are put through periods of complete starvation that can last from as few as five days to as many as fourteen days to force the birds to molt, which will boost their egg-laying productivity. Though this particular process is on the way out, it is still fairly common and at any given time there are at least six million hens intentionally being starved in the name of profits.
The vast majority of the eggs consumed around the world come from hens kept in conditions like the ones above. These hens natural life span of 15-20 years is cut drastically short and they are only able to live 1 to 2 years before they are slaughtered when their productivity declines. That is the thanks they get after all we have taken from them. After a lifetime of abuse their bodies are so wasted and emaciated that their meat is only able to be used in soups and pet food.
Cage-free eggs come from hens who are not kept in tiny battery cages like the hens mentioned above. However, they are still confined their entire lives inside and their lives are still very far from normal. The only difference is the size of the cage the chickens are kept in. Instead of being crammed six to a cage in tiny battery cages, they are jam-packed into a giant warehouse. They are still debeaked, kept in filthy conditions, often not able to see or be in the sun, often fed the same food conventionally raised chickens eat (a feed that has disturbing ingredients that include rendered chickens), and they are still sent to the same slaughterhouses at the end of their short miserable lives.
The label “free-range eggs” might conjure images of an open pasture, where chickens are free to run around, peck at the dirt, flap their wings and enjoy life, but in truth it is just another marketing ploy. In the USDA’s own words:
“The birds are raised in heated and air-cooled growing houses with access to the outdoors…”
This outdoor area that chickens may have access to (and the amount of access they have varies) can be as small as a back porch or covered patio, with a small, hard to find door. While this is a great step in the right direction compared to the lives of conventionally raised egg-laying hens, it is still most definitely not cruelty-free. Once again, many chickens are debeaked, forced to live in their own waste, often fed the same antibiotic and arsenic-laden feed that conventional chickens eat, and are still slaughtered in ways that will make your stomach turn. Free-range chickens are far from free, and they don’t live on a range.
Organic eggs come from chickens that are kept in cage-free conditions and are fed a certified organic, vegetarian diet (though chickens’ natural diet is not strictly vegetarian). There is still no pasture, no space and often no sunlight. The quality of the eggs may be improved, but the living conditions are still far from cruelty-free.
Farmers are permitted to confine their egg-laying hens twenty-four hours a day if they feel that the weather is too harsh, that there may be a disease outbreak, to protect soil and water from being contaminated by all of the waste inherent in the keeping of thousands of chickens, or the chickens’ “stage of production”. There are no clear regulations on any of these factors, and because they are left completely to the farmer’s discretion, are almost never regulated or enforced in any way.
Keep in mind that all of the industries mentioned still support the murder of hundreds of millions of male chickens every year to keep their supply of female “producing” chickens fresh.
“Certified Organic”, “Free-range”, “Cage-free”, “Hormone-free”, “All Natural”, “Humanely Raised and Handled” — all of these labels are designed to make you feel less guilty for buying a product that is always cruel. The level of cruelty may fluctuate slightly between them, but to the hens, cruel is always cruel.
The egg industry is taking advantage of your good heart, and profiting off your ignorance.
These labels are false advertising that was created to make you pay up to three times more for eggs that are nearly identical to cheap, conventional eggs. When you buy eggs from a grocery store, whether they are conventional, cage-free, organic, free-range, etc., you can safely assume that you are being taken for a ride by those companies, and are throwing your hard-earned cash down the drain for a false peace of mind.
Don’t be a dummy. Stop wasting your money on fancy packaging and labels that lie. LIVE VEGAN.
More Ways to Make a Difference
Going egg-free is great. Here are some more ways to maximize your impact and be ethically consistent: