Tag: eggs

Should We Eat Eggs?

Eggs are such a common food and touted as being great for us, but should we actually eat eggs?

Now I have to admit, that eggs were the hardest thing for me to leave behind, but I did so for a couple of reasons.

The Egg Industry:

I think we all know just how cruel life is for the chickens who have to live in the cages.  So let’s look at a few facts on the caged chicken.

  1. It can take around 34 hours for a chicken to produce an egg which means that farmers have to make sure they have enough chickens producing enough eggs in order to make a living.  As demand increased so the space allocated to each chicken decreased.
  2. Battery cages allow a space no bigger than an A4 size piece of paper. And, because the hens are packed into these cages with anywhere between 5 to 11 to a cage,
  3. At the start of their life the end of their beaks are cut off with a hot blade – no anesthetic given (not all battery hens suffer this, but it is still a common practice around the world).
  4. Cages are usually stacked one on top of another which allows urine and feces to fall through to the birds in the cages below
  5. They often die in the cage and on some farms are left to rot. This does make you wonder just how much disease is coming through into the eggs.

These cages are being phased out. They’re already banned in many European countries and in parts of the United States.  N.Z. has put a ban on battery cages, however, currently is allowing colony cages which is really just a bigger version. … wire and steel.  Australia, I believe, still is running with this barbaric practice.

So, instead, you choose free range eggs.

Before I go on let’s start at the beginning because this is the start of all chickens lives regardless of whether they are for the caged or the free range farms.

  1. Because the demand is so great for layer hens, chicks are born in large incubators obviously never seeing their mother.
  2. Shortly after birth the chicks are sorted into male and females. The males are tossed into the trash to suffocate gassed or ground up alive in machines.
  3. At the other end of life – again, same for all types of egg farms.
  4. Hens can live up to 10 years of age, but in this industry they are lucky if they reach 2 years. Most are packed into crates and trucked off to slaughter around the 18 months of age this is because their egg laying begins to tail off and so they are no longer a viable proposition to the farmer.
  5. For those who live in cages and in barns – the journey in the truck to the slaughter house is the only time a hen will see the light of day, the only time she will breathe the air and see the sky.

Eggs For Health:

Where do I start?

Even the US Department of Agriculture warned the egg industry that if they say eggs are nutritious or safe they may violate the rules against false and misleading advertising.

That in itself speaks volumes.

  1. Egg yolks alone can cause artery clogging plaque build up nearly two thirds as bad as smoking.
  2. Eggs are the number one source of cholesterol.  A fascinating study was done over a period of a year where they put the subject on eggs, then took him off eggs, put him back on eggs, took him off eggs and the rise and fall of cholesterol was massive – it turn his blood cholesterol on and off like an eggy light switch.
  3. Eggs increase our risk of cardiovascular disease.   Putting  all the studies going right back to the 1930’s all together you find those who ate the most eggs (average a single egg per day), had a 19% increase in cardiovascular disease, a 68% increase risk of diabetes and those with diabetes a 85% increase risk of heart disease.

You must remember that you need to be sure the research you read are not funded by the egg industry.
and what I find amusing is that their studies will compare a single egg to something like a cheese and sausage found in the McDonald’s McMuffin which, of course, is laden with saturated fats.

Now, If you’re already eating a high cholesterol diet, then adding an egg isn’t going to make a difference.  But if you’re trying to eat healthy and bring your cholesterol down, then an egg is going to shoot it right back up again.

Apart from the cholesterol and looking at other phytonutrients that eggs have such as lutein which have been shown to be beneficial to one’s eyesight against conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

But wait – you can get both these nutrients in spinach. In fact, you’d have to eat 9 eggs to get the same amount that is in a single spoonful of spinach.

Eggs are not rich in protein, iron or folate as the industry might want you to believe.  Choline is about the only nutrient eggs are rich in (besides cholesterol) and even though the industry would love you to think that eggs are the only source of it in reality we probably all get too much choline as it’s found in lots of foods.

If you tend to have a bit of a ‘fishy’ breath, sweat, urine and other secretions, then chances are you’ve had too much choline.  Oh and by the way, dietary choline is found mainly in eggs, milk, liver, red meat, poultry, shell fish and fish.

It’s also been discovered that once it’s been through the gut and oxidized in our liver the result may contribute to plaque build up in the arteries.

My conclusion is that eggs are a double whammy when it comes to heart health having both the cholesterol and the choline.
There’s just no way round it …. go wholefood vegan and help not only the chickkies but your health as well.





Are Free Range Eggs Ethical?

I’ve spoken about the egg industry before, but it’s time to ask again are free range eggs ethical and this time I’m going to re-visit this topic and look at it from a slightly different angle.

Let’s start at the beginning – and, no, I’m not getting into the argument of which comes first – the chicken or the egg nor about battery eggs verses free range eggs.

Have you ever wondered where the Hatcheries get the eggs from?  You see the Hatcheries are big business.  This is where the eggs are incubated and hatched.  The chickens are then sold to the egg farmers, be they caged or free range.

Try as I might, the information about the “parents” (where these fertilized eggs actually come from), is very scarce, especially in N.Z. – Which makes it even more worrying.  Just the mere fact that there appears to be no data available creates a feeling of mistrust.  In fact even SAFE said it is a very secretive industry and virtually impossible to find out anything – very suspect.

I did find out that we do import breeding birds from both the Netherlands and U.S.A.  They do this in order to keep the flock healthy …. no in-breeding.

I also discovered that there are not that many breeding bird farms around the world as it’s quite a scientific operation.  These farms do genetic tests and selection based on progeny testing to ensure they have excellent breeders.

In Australia, the fertilized eggs are imported, so it appears that there are no “parent” birds there.

So looking at the U.S.A. parent bird situation (N.Z. does tend to mimic the USA practices).  Again information is scarce but what I did discover was pretty abysmal.
On average the “parent” birds are housed in sheds.  They have about 1.88-2 square feet per bird and  quite often the ratio is one rooster for every 9-11 hens.  In saying that, I also discovered that generally the roosters are not actually put with the hens, instead the sperm is removed and artificially injected into the females.

But wait, there’s more.  Many of these birds are beak-trimmed and de-spurred, the roosters can even have their combs cut off and de-toed … all this to prevent aggression and usually done without anaesthesia.

On to some facts:

  • Birds are fed once a day.
  • Their eggs are collected three times a day to go to hatcheries.
  • Usually at the end of their first laying cycle they are sent to slaughter.
  • Roosters can survive slightly longer than 18 months, but then slaughtered.

Now I can understand why this industry is so tightly shut.  They do not want any light shone on them and are probably quite happy that there is more angst around caged egg producing hens.

But this must be a huge industry.  Just to put it into perspective how many layer hens per year is required for the egg industry (including free-range):

  • N.Z. = over 3 million.
  • Australia = around 11 million.
  • Britain = 29 million.
  • USA = 302 million.

So the number of fertilized eggs would have to be at least double these numbers just to be on the safe side because of the male chicks.

If you are eating eggs, be they free-range or other, please try to reduce the number.  Try committing to two or three days a week going completely animal free in all your food choices.  It’s not that difficult to do once you get into swing of it – and there’s always plenty of help if you need it.  Please spare a thought for those mummy birds.


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Do You Understand The Labels On The Egg Carton?

There have been several times people have told me that they only buy free range eggs and their belief is that if the chickens are free-range, they have a much better life than chickens in cages.

Well in a way they do … heck, anything would have a better life if it’s not cramped up living in a cage.  But is a confinement of any sort just as bad?

So do you know which eggs truly are free-range?  and, what constitutes free-range?
Back in 2013 I wrote a post “Do You Buy Free Range Eggs?” Well, it’s now 2015 and nothing really has changed.  So here’s a bit more information for you.
I think we’d all agree the words “battery” “caged” even “colony cage” all mean that the hens are living in cages.
And, “barn raised” or just “barn” would mean that the hens live in a barn and not out doors.

But it’s when we get to the words “free-range” that the mis-interpretations happen.

Free-range conjures up visions of chickens roaming around lush, green pastures just doing their thing.  And yet when questioned, most people have no idea how the farmer collects the eggs from these free-ranging hens.  That part, we don’t think about.

The truth is most “free-range” hens actually spend most of their life in barns.  Barns that have doors that lead to the outside.  Of course, because the barn is full of hens, most of these chickens never reach the doors and therefore live their lives in a barn.  But, technically, they are free-range because they have the choice to go outside.

It usually is a matter of just how big the commercial operation is.  How many chickens are on the farm and the logistics of feeding, egg collection etc. as to how “free-range” they are.

Smaller free-range farmers do let their chickens range in the open, however, they bring them in at night where there are nesting boxes and where the hens can lay their eggs.  Other factors that come into play with bringing them in at night, is protecting the hens from the elements (weather) and from other animals that take eggs or kill chickens

I think the best idea I’ve ever seen is a movable nesting box called a “Chicken Caravan” which is made in Australia.  The beauty of this is that the farmer is able to move the chickens to fresh paddocks when needed and bring the nesting box at the same time.  The hens then are able to lay their eggs when the desire takes them.

Just so you know, a lot of commercial free-range companies are owned by large corporations that also have caged hens.  Where does that put you if you buy free-range for ethical reasons?

O.k., you’re happy having “free-range” and you trust the brand on the egg carton because you have researched them.  But let me ask you this.  Do you know what happens to the chicken at the start of its life and when she no longer can produce eggs?

Remember, this is a commercial operation.  This is the farmer’s livelihood.  He must get his young chickens from somewhere because he won’t have the room to breed them and he has to get rid of the older hens when they are no longer economically viable.

The chickens come from the same place that battery hens do – a breeding farm dedicated to raising female hens for the egg market.  The baby chicks at one day old are inspected – if female they live, if male they go straight into the chute that drops them into a grinder or crusher …. ending up as animal food or fertilizer.

There’s no let up at the end of the chicken’s laying life.  Once she can no longer lay profitably (which is usually around 18 months), she is then crammed inside transport cages along with others and trucked to slaughter never with any food or water on the journey.

The killing process is usually pretty archaic, barbaric and torturous especially in the U.S. – killing which is deemed illegal with cattle or pigs is acceptable for fowl.  Even in 2015, it still continues.

If you’ve read this far and still going to eat eggs then check out the photo below.  If you think you might try eating less eggs or giving them up altogether there are many ways you can replace the egg with plants.  My Vegetarian to Vegan (get it here) book is a big help … plug, plug!!! or you can just type into Google “egg substitute” and you’ll get lots of ideas.

I’m going to leave you with a chart recently put out by SAFE (N.Z. animal welfare group).  You’ll find it easy to understand and you’ll have a lot better idea what the labels really mean.  Below that is the U.S.A. chart – slightly different as, except for “certified organic,” the U.S. government does not set definitions or requirements for egg carton labels. (If you live in other countries, you’ll probably find that one of these charts will fit your country’s labels).

U.S.A. chart:
Be very wary of anything else on the label such as the words “natural” – most of it is marketing hype.


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