No, I don’t eat eggs- even backyard eggs.
It’s a question I’ve been asked more times than I can count: “would you eat eggs if you knew they were coming from someone’s backyard?” Next to inquiries about my protein sources and whether or not I would eat stem cell meat, this seems to be the one of the big questions that non-vegans like to ask in order to delegitimize the vegan lifestyle. Actually, in most cases, I’ve had it posed to me in a way that is more curious and offensive, and it’s a question that deserves a well explained answer to clear up any misconceptions. I can almost understand, on a surface level, why people might not “get” why eggs are such a hot topic when the focus on animal liberation is more often placed on the atrocities of meat and killing animals, but there are many layers to the anti-egg argument, which prove that consuming eggs is an unethical choice.
Egg consumption gives a clean slate to the ugly things we have done to chickens, and even if it’s coming from a backyard, it validates commodifying animals. Selective breeding, or constantly breeding the “strongest” animals, or most productive from a herd or flock is how we have reached a point where domesticated chickens are laying hundreds of eggs annually as opposed to the amount a wild chicken would lay in order to ensure the survival of their species. Constant egg laying has caused lower, unhealthy levels of calcium in domesticated chickens. Eggshells contain loads of calcium, and since domesticated chickens are producing up to twenty times the necessary amount of eggs, calcium is tough for these birds to hold on to. Selective breeding has caused other massive health hazards that are quite painful for chickens, such as an increased risk of prolapse, stuck eggs in oviducts, and cancer from mass breeding. No matter where you source your eggs from, you are taking part in a very ugly exploitation process, even if the chicken the eggs were taken from is living an otherwise lovely life. No life is peaceful when it is built upon taking.
Imagine how stressful this must be for the chicken, whose only desire and instinct is to lay a brood and protect it, only to have it stolen away from her. She will continue to lay and lay and lay, as all her eggs disappear out from under her. Chickens want to keep their eggs, as this is what is natural for them, and will fight against those who try to take eggs while she is watching. It does not matter how “kind” the farmer is during this entire process, as the chicken desperately does not want to lose what she has produced. She will search for the eggs that have been stolen, even if she did not observe this act happening.
A question I would pose to those who enjoy backyard eggs is, what happens to the chickens who stop ‘giving?’ As much as you might want to believe that every backyard farmer lets chickens live out their natural lives, this is not profitable, and oftentimes, the common practice is to “humanely” slaughter the chicken after she has reached a certain age. I’m not saying that some backyard farms might divest from this practice, but with eating eggs usually comes eating meat, and what a better place to get so called “humane” meat from than the same place the farmer gets their humane eggs from? There is no reason to doubt that free range egg farmers would willingly and happily kill their chickens as they willingly take their eggs.
If you have a chicken as a companion, and you see throwing the eggs away as wasteful, realize that the chicken herself might love to eat the eggs as a treat! There’s a trend among vegans in rural areas who keep “micro sanctuaries” and protect vulnerable animals such as chickens who encourage this practice. Chickens have unique personalities, with varying amounts of sweetness, affection, and distaste for the humans with whom they live, despite the fact that they are often portrayed very differently and thought of as quite stupid.
Backyard eggs are no different than backyard slaughter. Both depend on gaining the trust of a creature, only to betray and exploit it. Go vegan, and keep all animal products off your plate!