Most of us grew up eating eggs. Whether it was for breakfast or just a quick snack; scrambled eggs, fried eggs, boiled eggs, poached eggs… not to mention all the mass produced food eggs go into – pancakes, cakes, biscuits, pasta… the list goes on and on.
But did you ever really stop to think where the egg you were eating actually came from, what went into the production of it and whether it was really “Good” for you?
Unfortunately, most of us, prefer to put our heads in the sand when it comes to these questions.
Most of what we have ever heard, from the media, the advertising industry, the government and most “nutrition” companies, is that eggs were “good” for us and nothing was wrong with them as long as they are “cage free”/ “humane”/ “free-range” or organic; it’s ok for the animals and to eat them.
Most people think of farm animals, especially chicken, grazing on green pastures, roaming free and laying eggs without a care in the world whenever they feel like it.
woodstock farm sanctuary
Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.
Like the dairy industry, the egg industry is a huge money making machine for the government, which has been keeping us in the dark and covering up some horrifying facts about egg production, as well as health consequences of egg consumption, to say the least.
THE SHOCKING FACTS
Chicken naturally produce around 12 eggs per year, generally in Spring. Hens that are bred for the egg industry today are genetically hybridized to produce over 200-350 eggs per year which is over 15 times the natural amount.
The egg industry realized interfering with the natural brooding process of a hen and continuously taking her eggs away, makes her body produce more. Sadly, this causes these birds a lifetime of misery, suffering and many debilitating health problems which leaves many unable to walk. The natural life of a chicken is from 10-25 years, but for a battery hen, they are considered “spent” after around 1-2 years of rapid egg production, and are sent to slaughter. Due to many of them having abnormalities, bruises and broken bones, they usually end up shredded in canned soup or other low grade meat products to hide these deformities.
Chicken are intelligent, sensitive animals
Not only are they the closest living relative to the Tyrannosaurus Rex, research has shown chickens are sensitive, intelligent and social creatures. They display very sophisticated ways of communication and have over 25 different vocal communication calls, including signals for intentions.
Studies have shown, as reported in the Scientific American from an article titled “The Startling intelligence of the Common Chicken” that the unique communication skills of a chicken are at the same level as some primates. Chicken can solve complex problems, recognize each other as individuals after separation, and display empathy. They also display memory and different emotions, especially strong motherly emotions towards their young, which, sadly, nearly all egg-laying hens never get to do.
Starved and Mutilated
At just a few days old and even on “organic” and “free-range” farms, female chicks have 1/3 to 2/3 of their extremely sensitive beaks seared off without painkillers.
De-beaking is standard practice in the egg industry on all farms. Their beaks are similar to our fingertips and are loaded with blood vessels, pain receptors and nerve endings.
Many birds are unable to eat due to the pain, and die from starvation, dehydration, or weakened immune systems.
If this wasn’t bad enough, hens are also put through a process known as “forced-molting” which starves them for 18 days, without water, in the dark. This shocks their bodies into a rapid egg-laying cycle and allows the egg producers to get the most “bang for the buck” out of these animals who are still unfortunately not protected by The Animal Welfare Act or The Humane Slaughter Act.
Male chicks – as they are no use in the egg industry – are ground up alive or discarded and suffocated in trash bags, like garbage.
About 70 percent of egg calories are from saturated fat.
Eggs contain zero dietary fiber and are loaded with cholesterol – about 213 mg for an average sized egg.
People with diabetes, high cholesterol or cardiovascular diseases should consume fewer than 200 mg of cholesterol each day.
Humans have no biological need to consume ANY cholesterol at all, since we make enough in our own bodies.
Most shockingly, due to 100,000 Americans being poisoned by salmonella from eggs every year, the egg industry is barred by the United States Department of Agriculture from being able to call eggs “healthy,” “safe” or “nutritious”. They have managed to get around their marketing for this by calling eggs words like “fresh” and “satisfying.”
So, if eggs aren’t safe OR healthy….why are people still buying into this industry and eating them?
The answer to this question is, again, due to the egg industry’s clever marketing and using words like “free-range” and “organic” when the mass production is basically the same.
According to The International Journal of Cancer, an analysis of dietary habits showed people who consumed just 1.5 eggs a week had nearly 5 times the risk of colon cancer, compared to those who hardly consumed any (less than 11 per year).
The World Health Organization found that eating eggs is associated with death from colon and rectal cancers from an analysis of data from 34 countries.
Another study by The National Institutes of Health showed that eating eggs is also linked to prostate cancer.
By consuming 2.5 eggs per week, men increased their risk for a deadly form of prostate cancer by 81 percent, compared with men who consumed less than half an egg per week.
Finally, a study published in International Urology and Nephrology showed even moderate egg consumption tripled the risk of developing bladder cancer.
A review of 14 studies this year in the journal “Atherosclerosis” showed people who consumed the most eggs increased their risk of diabetes by 68 percent.
Egg consumption also increases the risk of gestational diabetes according to American Journal of Epidemiology.
In the same study, researchers found that people who consumed the most eggs increased their risk for cardiovascular disease by 19 percent. If those people already had diabetes, the risk for heart disease jumped up to 83 percent.
Horrific Living Conditions
Nearly all egg-laying hens in the world – including the 300 million in the US live in factory farms in battery cages.
Because hens are deliberately excluded from protection in many countries around the world – they are exposed to atrocious suffering. Up to 10 hens are packed in one wire cage, stacked on top of each other. Its standard practice to keep 125,000 hens in one shed – to never see daylight, with no care if they become sick. Many birds live and die without ever being seen, let alone assessed by an auditor. These crowded and unsanitary conditions create a build of toxic gas which causes eye, viral and upper respiratory tract infections. They also suffer from foot and leg injuries from the wire floors and feather loss due to psychological and physical stress.
By the time the surviving hens are sent to slaughter after roughly 2 years of misery, most of them suffer from broken bones and many of them are unable to even walk.
Free-Range/ Cage-Free/ Organic
The pictures of “happy” animals on the packaging, freely grazing in the grass definitely tell a very different story to the actual reality.
Unfortunately for these sensitive birds, in the US, keeping 20,000 hens in one shed where they never see daylight still counts as “free-range”. According to the USDA having “access to the outside” can mean as little as one small opening being placed inside a shed of 20,000 hens.
Hens in factory farms live the complete opposite life to their wild relatives. These hens will never scratch in the dirt, nest, feel sunlight or even stretch their wings and see and feel their young hatch and care for them, which is their primal need.
Breeding, raising and exploiting hens for their eggs is not only inhumane and unhealthy – it also causes a huge waste of resources to the environment.
Every single egg produced requires 53 gallons of water to produce the grain feed to produce one kilo of eggs. That equals 636 gallons of water for a dozen eggs!
Egg farms are also responsible for large amounts of toxic ammonia gas emissions as well as high levels of uric acid in bird feces which is converted into ammonia in the presence of appropriate microbes.
Fecal waste from chicken, cows and pigs has already contaminated over 35,000 rivers in 22 states, and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.
There are so many amazing and delicious alternatives to eggs. Tofu is one in particular that is very popular as an egg substitute and can be made into a very healthy “Tofu Scramble” which is delicious and one of my favorites!
There is now a new and delicious “vegan egg” alternative, that is readily available in nearly all food stores, that has the taste and the texture of an egg.
Incorporating vegan sources of fat into your diet like tofu, avocado and coconut oil also help to replace the fat, protein and calories your body is used to getting from eggs.
Chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds are also another great way to obtain essential omegas and fatty acids.
There are many vegan recipes I will be sharing soon that all can be used for egg substitutions so make sure you look out for them in my next article….
We CAN make a change….
Doing the research and writing this article was especially difficult for me, as going vegan three years ago was primarily due to finding out about the egg industry. I had already found out about the horrors of the dairy industry years before as it tends to get slightly more attention.
It seems that the evil egg industry is one many people don’t know about, especially regarding the suffering these very intelligent birds endure and also the health detriments. It really does beg belief that millions of these sensitive animals continue to be abused every day and live in atrocity, just so humans can eat their unhealthy, mass-produced eggs.
The good news, is that because there are so many much healthier alternatives now to eggs and dairy that are widely available to all of us, so many health studies and health implications; the many reasons to stop eating eggs and dairy continue to constantly increase.
I truly believe if we all continue to stick together as a community and continue to educate and share information on the healthy and compassionate vegan way of life, more and more people will awaken and will finally stop consuming these unhealthy and unethical foods.
These horrific farming practices will end for good, and our environment, the animals and WE as a whole will all benefit and live in a much happier and healthier life.
By: Kristina Dow (WAN’s Director Of International Vegan Outreach)