Eggs: A classic, vegetarian breakfast food with just the right amount of protein and fat… At least, that’s what the corporations want you to think. In reality, the protein and fat found in eggs are linked to multiple diseases, including heart disease, and the processes involved with producing eggs are so far from humane, I wouldn’t consider them a “vegetarian” food.
Do you truly know how eggs are produced in the first place? Fair warning: The content in this article is graphic and, after learning how eggs are really made, you may never eat them again.
Here’s How Eggs Are Really Produced
Hens naturally lay eggs, so eating eggs is considered “natural,” right? Wrong. For starters, hens naturally only lay about 12 eggs per year in the wild, whereas hens living on factory farms are genetically mutated to lay between 250 and 300 eggs per year.
Egg laying isn’t a fun process for hens. It’s comparable to the human labour process and can take up to 26 hours to occur. In comparison, that’s like forcing women to be on their period every day for an entire year, just so another species could consume what’s coming out of them. Sounds pretty gross, right? It also takes a lot of calcium for hens to lay eggs in bulk, so many hens end up breaking bones, developing osteoporosis, or even becoming paralyzed.
The reason I don’t consider eggs a vegetarian food is because chickens do, in fact, die in the process. Since male chickens can’t lay eggs, thousands are disposed of all the time. These chickens are slaughtered en masse by either grinding them up alive, disposing of them in garbage bags where they suffocate to death, or throwing them directly into dumpsters where they’ll eventually die. Alternatively, sometimes these chickens get sold and turned into feed for other animals, or even to just hens!
Even though female chicks are the ones producing the eggs, they’re not treated very well, either. This is not only inhumane, it’s also illogical — it makes no sense from a financial perspective to mistreat the animals these corporations profit from. Most hens only live until they’re about a year and a half old because they face so many health risks and are then slaughtered.
The conditions on factory farms are extremely unhealthy, with typically 125,000 hens squeezed into one shed alone, which often leads to hens getting infections, especially because there’s fecal matter everywhere. It’s common for them to injure or kill one another, too, and at any given time, 6 million hens are being starved in their cages.
This process obviously isn’t environmentally sound either. Since the conditions are so poor and eggs are mass produced, there’s a significant amount of land and water required, as a dozen eggs requires 2,400 liters of water to process.
The following video by Erin Janus perfectly depicts what’s wrong with the way eggs are mass produced:
What About Organic, Cage-Free Eggs?
Some people prefer to purchase cage-free or organic eggs because they’re branded as coming from “happy hens” living a more natural lifestyle. Although organic may be the healthier option, unfortunately, the “cage-free” label is merely a marketing scheme used by corporations to make you think you’re choosing the “cruelty-free” option.
In order to meet industry standards, organic and cage-free farms can keep 20,000 hens in one shed. This number is still large enough to allow for the same health hazards to threaten hens. These hens may not live in cages, but they are still crammed into a confined space without access to sunlight. Many of the birds die, their carcasses rot, some get diseases, and other birds fight each other to the death.
At organic chicken farms specifically, it’s standard practice for the hens’ beaks to be chopped off. And no, this isn’t a humane practice — their beaks contain many nerves and pain receptors. This practice is actually done because it prevents birds from plucking out their feathers, a natural response they have to stress and pain.
To address this issue, animal rights activist group Direct Action Everywhere released an undercover video exposing the poor conditions at a Costco egg farm in California that’s labelled as “cage-free.” The conditions are horrific and the video footage shows that many of the birds were covered in blood and feces and some were even plucked to death. You can watch the short video here:
You Probably Shouldn’t Be Eating Eggs Anyways
Many of you reading this may be saying, “Eggs are still a healthy source of protein and fat.” What you may not know is that the health risks associated with eggs far outweigh the benefits.
As Michelle McMacken, MD, explains, “Landmark studies have shown that when omnivores eat choline or carnitine (found in meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy), gut bacteria make a substance that is converted by our liver to a toxic product called TMAO. TMAO leads to worsening cholesterol plaques in our blood vessels and escalates the risk of heart attack and stroke.”
Harvard University researchers recently published a study in JAMA Internal Medicine that examined the association of animal and plant protein with mortality rates and causes as well as longevity of life. They studied approximately 130,000 people for 36 years, monitoring their diet, lifestyle, illness, and mortality. The study found that replacing eggs with plant-based protein led to a 19% reduction in death risk.
Eggs are clearly not conducive to living an environmentally sustainable, healthy, and cruelty-free lifestyle. So, I encourage you to reflect on this knowledge and ask yourself: Does it truly serve me and my body to eat eggs?
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