People sometimes have difficulty understanding what the problem with eggs is, it is just something that came out of a chicken, right? Yes, it did come out of a chicken, but that certainly isn’t the whole story.
Similarly to women, hens have ovaries, although only one ovary develops for the chickens. Nevertheless, this ovary sends a yolk through the reproductive tract and it is either fertilized, or it’s not. A woman’s period is an unfertilized reproductive cycle, and the eggs at the grocery store are also unfertilized reproductive cycles. Technically, chickens don’t menstruate, but the egg is the equivalent to a woman’s period.
Chickens may be the animal who experience the most abuse in factory farms, as they are small, and easy for the workers to pick up and throw around. The life of a hen used in the egg industry starts off very painfully, in order to prevent pecking each other to death, the baby chicks have their beaks and claws cut off. This is done without any painkillers, and results in severe malnutrition and dehydration, especially for the first two weeks. However, the male chicks have an immediate demise, as they are useless to the egg industry. Male and female chicks, are placed onto a conveyor belt, as workers separate them by gender. Females are filtered into big bins, where they will live until they’re big enough to not fit through the cracks of the wire battery cages. The males are either ground up alive, or tossed into large garbage bags, where they suffocate to death. Their lives are considered useless to the egg industry, and therefore they are brought into this world, only to be immediately killed.
Roughly 10 egg laying hens are brutally crammed into battery cages that measure 10” by 24”, although a single hen has a wingspan of up to 36”. These cages are wire all around, and multiples are stacked on top of each other, meaning the feces from the chickens in the cages above falls onto the chickens below. Disease and death are common among these hens, and it is not abnormal for a deceased chicken to be left to rot inside the cage, among the rest of the live hens. Due to an inadequate diet, many hens can have their eggs break inside of their bodies, causing major discomfort and leading to infection. After about 2 years of living this way (while their normal lifespan can be up to 10 years), hens are ‘spent’, meaning they no longer are producing the number of eggs the industry wants them to. This means that is it is their time to go off to the slaughterhouse…
Their journey to the slaughterhouse often ends up with many broken wings, legs and even necks. This is caused by their cages being thrown from place to place, and being crammed so tightly that their body parts are pushed outside the bars, and prone to injury. Did you know that turkeys and chickens are exempt from the Humane Slaughter Act (although no slaughter is truly humane), they are not required to be insensible to pain before they are killed. They are hung by their legs, and have their throat slit, all while they’re still completely alert. By the time their tortured bodies reach the slaughterhouse, their flesh is unfit to be sold in supermarkets. They are often made into pet food, although there have been cases of their meat being used in the National School Lunch Program.
Contrary to popular belief, eggs are also extremely bad for our health as well. About 70% of calories from an egg are saturated fat, and they contain 213 mg of cholesterol, the human body has zero need for any cholesterol (as we make our own). Eggs are known to cause salmonella poisoning in 100,000 Americans each year, and many years ago I was one of them. According to the International Journal of Cancer, people who consume 1.5 eggs per week had nearly 5 times the risk for colon cancer. By consuming 2.5 eggs per week, men increased their risk of having prostate cancer by 81%. Also, a study published in International Urology and Nephrology showed that even moderate egg consumption is likely to triple your chances of bladder cancer. In a study done by the American Journal of Epidemiology, they showed that consuming eggs can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease by 19%. If you have diabetes, your chances of cardiovascular disease leap to a whopping 83%.
Fancy labels on eggs, showing happy chickens in green pastures, is extremely unrealistic. For the most part, hens live their lives in completely cramped, and unhealthy quarters. So, those who eat eggs from backyard hens (whether they’re own, or somebody else’s), it’s great that they are not supporting the cruel egg industry. However, eggs are still a by product of an animal’s work, they are still bad for your health, and are still a chickens unfertilized reproductive cycle.