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No, I don’t eat eggs- even backyard eggs.

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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!

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  • AlpineDan

    With one exception that I’ll explain below, this is a wonderfully informative article. Several years ago, I worked for a few years with a vegan sanctuary that adopted rescued farmed animals, including at least a couple dozen chickens. The sanctuary owners had been running the sanctuary for many years and knew the animals better than any farmer, not the least of which was due to the fact that they were interested in the animals for the animals’ sake, not as profit units. This entire article hits a home run in explaining the harm that ANY exploitation of chickens involves.

    The exception, which I’ve noticed regularly in Ecorazzi articles, and appears to be an official editorial policy, is referring to animals with impersonal pronouns: it and that instead of he and she and who. Yes, it’s proper grammar to refer to infants and animals with impersonal pronouns, even when we know the gender. But it’s also acceptable to refer to infants and animals with personal pronouns. (And even if it’s not acceptable to some people, tough shit.) In an EXREMELY speciesist society that is hell bent on insisting on animals as things, given that Ecorazzi is unapologetically vegan (which is terrific!), perhaps Ecorazzi should very seriously considering being unapologetic about using personal pronouns when referring to animals, reinforcing the non-speciesist idea of animals as persons. It may sound trivial, but it’s not: language plays a large role in our conceptual construction of the world. Repeatedly referring to persons as things reinforces their thing status repeatedly.

    • Lalasunflower

      Hey Dan, obviously I contacted you about this, but lets have a public dialogue! I agree that personal pronouns are important for animals, but as a person who is for the abolishment of gender and attaching it to animals as well, is the non-binary “they” appropriate or no?

      • AlpineDan

        “They” sounds good to me. We use they to refer with respect to human groups regularly. Some languages (I believe German is one of them) have a commonly used non-gendered personal pronoun. English I think has “ze” and “hir” but most readers would likely mistake those as typos.

        Nevertheless, I haven’t heard adult humans referred to as it. When that’s commonplace, it’ll be fine for animals as well. We need a commonly used non-gender personal pronoun!

        • Lalasunflower

          Let’s go with they, then! Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

  • Katrina

    My understanding of what most vegans say is that they don’t eat any animal product because they don’t believe in hurting animals / they love animals, etc. Which is fine. However, my comment is do these said vegans own pets, and if they do, then what do they feed them? Isn’t owning a pet against it’s rights to be free? If you own a pet you HAVE to feed it meat, that’s what cats and dogs for instance have to have for their digestive system, so are they saying it’s OK for animals to be killed barbarically to make pet food just so they can have a pet?????
    If you’re a vegan who just doesn’t want to eat meat / animal products but not on the bandwagon about cruelty to animals, this question obviously isn’t for you.

    • vegan truth seeker

      It’s wrong to buy animals to keep as pets, period.

      But there are many ‘domesticated’ animals who were abandoned and are carnivores like cats for instance!
      So, what should we do? Leave them to their fate in the streets or rescue them?

      Dogs can eat vegan food but cats are strictly carnivores…
      I’ve had cats for 20 years now and they’ve always showed up at my door, I’ve never gone and adopt one on purpose.
      If I take one cat off the streets it’s one more cat who is not going to kill other animals for food… so, doing the math, even if I my cat (I have one left and I don’t want any more animals ever again) food with animal ingredients in it I still prevent him from killing more animals in the wild (I don’t let him go outside) than those he eventually eats in the cat food I give him.

      It’s a tricky situation, however I believe all ‘domesticated’ stray animals should be neutered and spayed and that it should be illegal to buy and sell animals – that would solve the problem of abandoned animals in no time, but unfortunately that will never happen any time soon because the sale of animals as pets is a big business!

      It’s a sad, sad, cruel world we live in…

    • Georgina Melaisis

      I’m a vegan and have a pet chicken from when I was lacto-ovo vego. My partner eats the eggs but I don’t any more. When we don’t collect the eggs for a few days she lays in a little nest and they stay there and go rotten. I honestly don’t think she notices. She definitely has her own personality (total blonde) and has different favourite foods from her ex-companion who sadly passed away eggbound. I take good care of her as I would a dog or cat, and she keeps us company in the front garden and doesn’t run away. The above discussion is good to see as no one seems to ever bring it up. This is the issue with speciesism. If all animals are free and have their own desires, where do pets stand? It is a grey area. How can we OWN animals at all anyway? I guess keeping rescue animals is like wearing second hand leather.. a personal choice.

  • Velma Brown

    Animal loving backyard chicken keepers do exist.
    Our hens are rescued from a battery cage system, provided a large coop and get to free range every day until their hearts are content. When they stop laying, we consider them “retired” and keep them until their last natural day comes. We don’t consider them dispensable, and wouldn’t dream of slaughtering them.

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