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Free-Range Eggs & Being Vegan

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I'm am a veteran ovo-lacto vegetarian, and just went vegan in the beginning of 2008.  I went veg*n for animal rights/ethical reasons.  I know store bought free-range, cage-free is actually a big sham and that the practices are horrific. Lately, a few people have asked me about raising my own animals - if I would eat the eggs then.  For instance, my husband (who is ovo-lacto veggie), buys eggs from his friend who has a small farm in northern liberty.  She doesn't really sell them - just to a few close friends - she charges him like $1 for a dozen.  but we've been to her property, the chickens seemingly live a very happy life.  I've been asked the same questions about milk - if i had a single cow, and milked it - would it be okay then?

My argument for not eating eggs:  they would eventually hatch into baby chicks. in addition, i can't imagine taking the egg from a mother hen....

My argument for not drinking milk:  it's not natural to consume the milk of another animal.

I live in the mid-west and don't know a lot of other vegans (ok, none).  So i'm turning to you guys for other reasons.  I don't even know if mine are justifiable reasons.  I mean, i am completely comfortable saying, "i just don't.  it's my choice."...  but i'm curious about other reasons people have.  It would be very insightful. 

Thanks!

Here's the original post:

I'm am a veteran ovo-lacto vegetarian, and just went vegan in the beginning of 2008.  I went veg*n for animal rights/ethical reasons.  I know store bought free-range, cage-free is actually a big sham and that the practices are horrific. Lately, a few people have asked me about raising my own animals - if I would eat the eggs then.  For instance, my husband (who is ovo-lacto veggie), buys eggs from his friend who has a small farm in northern liberty.  She doesn't really sell them - just to a few close friends - she charges him like $1 for a dozen.  but we've been to her property, the chickens seemingly live a very happy life.  I've been asked the same questions about milk - if i had a single cow, and milked it - would it be okay then?

My argument for not eating eggs:  they would eventually hatch into baby chicks. in addition, i can't imagine taking the egg from a mother hen....

My argument for not drinking milk:  it's not natural to consume the milk of another animal.

I live in the mid-west and don't know a lot of other vegans (ok, none).  So i'm turning to you guys for other reasons.  I don't even know if mine are justifiable reasons.  I mean, i am completely comfortable saying, "i just don't.  it's my choice."...  but i'm curious about other reasons people have.  It would be very insightful. 

Thanks!

Miss_v:

1. The "but it's organic" bugs me too, and I like your answers a lot. I don't know if this applies to you, but when asked I also throw in health reasons. In particular, I have horriffic sinus allergies, and I find that milk products makes them much worse. I feel MUCH better without dairy. I know that sometimes there's a tension between people who are vegan from a strict animal-rights perspective and people for whom it is (also) a health issue, but I really think that there are also SO many health drawbacks to dairy/egg consumption that just don't get discussed, or get overshadowed by the b.s. about "but THIS is how you get your CALCIUM...". (Yeah, I track what I eat, and I NEVER am low on calcium, thankyouverymuch).

I also don't think that we should have to justify our lifestyle to ANYONE, but that's a different story...

2. I saw your profile... you don't know any vegans?? But we're practically neighbors, and KC has quite the veg community! PM me!

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Thanks for moving this.

I'm torn on the idea. Milk, no way would I drink it. A cow's milk is for baby cows, period. If you have a pet dog & the dog has a litter of puppies, would you take the puppies away & milk the dog for yourself? There's nothing different between milking a cow and any other animal. I think drinking cow's milk is very unatural and unhealthy for us humans.

I don't feel as strongly about eggs though. I think alot of animals steal the eggs of others and eat them and that they do provide some nourishment. I don't eat eggs now because of how horribly the chickens are raised & I don't want to consume the drugs that they treat the chickens with and are then passed along into the egg. And we don't NEED the eggs. I've gone over a year without them. So if I had a friend with well kept pet chickens who wanted to give me eggs, I think I'd take them and feed them to my dogs, or else donate them to the wildlife shelter where I volunteer to give to the animals there that need the eggs more than I do.

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My argument for not eating eggs:  they would eventually hatch into baby chicks. in addition, i can't imagine taking the egg from a mother hen....

The eggs people eat aren't fertilized and would never become chicks.  Hens will lay eggs whether or not there's a rooster there to fertilize the egg so it becomes a chick egg.

I have more to post about the topic, but I have to get some work done.  Hopefully I'll remember to get back to this tonight.

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i don't think either are really right, no matter where it comes from (factory farm or your own back yard).

however, its a continuum. if you choose to eat the stuff (neither of which i would say is natural) going with less cruel choices would be better than just getting whatever they have at the local SHOPMART or whatever.

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My argument for not eating eggs:  they would eventually hatch into baby chicks. in addition, i can't imagine taking the egg from a mother hen....

The eggs people eat aren't fertilized and would never become chicks.  Hens will lay eggs whether or not there's a rooster there to fertilize the egg so it becomes a chick egg.

Agreed.  An unfertilized egg would never become a chick.  Just like the egg women ovulate every month never becomes a human.  If it is wrong to eat an egg on the basis that it prevents a chick from being born, it is also wrong to let an unfertilized egg pass every month during your period.  It is exactly the same thing.

My issue with eggs is that you cannot farm them without exploiting a chicken.  You inevitably have to implement a system in which the hen's value is based on her ability to produce eggs.  You are using the hens for your own purposes.  I agree with baypuppy, doesn't matter if they're from your backyard or a factory.  It is exploitative of another species, no matter which way you slice it.  I am fundamentally opposed either way.

Regarding milk, I agree that it is not natural, but my reasons for not drinking milk are deeper than that.  There is only one being who is supposed to drink that milk--the baby calf.  My reasons for not drinking milk are basically the same as those for not eating eggs.  Cows don't produce milk so that humans can drink it.  They produce it for their own purposes.  And to grant ourselves permission to take these things is to assume dominion over other species.  I think this is wrong.

I don't really buy into the "well, the chickens/cows had a happy life" reasoning.  I agree with bp that there is a continuum--less cruel choices, etc.--but suppose that we did the same thing with other human beings!  Suppose I took a group of children and spoiled them rotten by treating them like royalty, but made them all do work to further some goal of mine.  It doesn't matter how well I treat them, I am still exploiting them.  They do not have to right to self determination of their own lives.  Same when chickens are raised--humanely or not.

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The thing I think about with the egg issue, in particular, is vhz's chicken rescue.  The chickens would lay eggs regarless, but since she's vegan and didn't eat them, she put them on her dog's food.  If you have a hen rescue and chickens layed the eggs anyway, I'm not sure it'd be a bad thing.  I wouldn't eat them, myself.

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eggs won't hatch into chicks unless they're fertilized, right?  are all eggs that chickens lay fertilized? 

my mom buys eggs from a local person in our county.  and she one day plans to raise her own chickens and eat their eggs.  i'm not totally sure how i feel about it...  and she always says to me that she couldn't go vegan, just because of eggs.  which is totally gross because i think eggs are most likely almost the grossest thing on the planet.  (i've never liked them.)

but if there is no rooster present, they will still lay eggs.  and if they're not fertilized, they won't hatch.  so, yeah, it seems icky to me, but are you really killing any would-be chickens?  i'm not promoting this idea, really, but if it makes my mom feel better about supporting her egg habit, i guess it would be ok with me (for her).  you wouldn't catch me dead going anywhere near an egg.

also, about my mom, she wants to raise chickens as....  her little buddies.  their value wouldn't be based on whether or not they produced eggs.  i know for a fact that if for some reason she got a chicken that didn't lay, she would keep it and love it anyway.  (and never eat it, of course!)  my mom's weird.  i think chickens are pretty horrendous.  they make scary noises and remind me of tiny dinosaurs.  they kinda scare me.

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I asked one of my moms friends, who had chickens, what the chickens do after they lay the eggs, she said 'nothing'.  sometimes they would burry the eggs, but they would just leave them around until they decomposed.  i dont see a problem with eating them if they are just going to waste... that is if you want to eat eggs.  i personally dont, because its gross (eating a chickens mensturation!?!? ewww) and because its unhealthy.  same for milk.  unhealthy, lactose intollerent, gross.  blegh.

usually if people ask, i say i wouldnt eat it because i'm vegan or because i dont want to.  the end.  sometimes they ask why i'm vegan, but usually, it just stops there.

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eggs won't hatch into chicks unless they're fertilized, right?  are all eggs that chickens lay fertilized? 

No.  All eggs that chickens lay are not fertilized.  Chickens pass unfertilized eggs just like we do.  They are fertilized if there is a rooster to fertilize them.

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allularpunk - i had to respond because my mother is the SAME WAY!  She would like to have a couple chickens, a cow, and random other farm animals just as pets.  I am actually kind of surprised she isn't more veggie, but that's another topic.

personally, go back and forth on eggs, but i agree with everyone on milk.  i have always found the whole milk concept kinda weird and gross.  Eggs never really bothered me though since it's not going to be a baby chick.  (and when chicken is happy and not filled with drugs etc.)

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My issue with eggs is that you cannot farm them without exploiting a chicken.  You inevitably have to implement a system in which the hen's value is based on her ability to produce eggs.  You are using the hens for your own purposes.  I agree with baypuppy, doesn't matter if they're from your backyard or a factory.  It is exploitative of another species, no matter which way you slice it.  I am fundamentally opposed either way.

Regarding milk, I agree that it is not natural, but my reasons for not drinking milk are deeper than that.  There is only one being who is supposed to drink that milk--the baby calf.  My reasons for not drinking milk are basically the same as those for not eating eggs.  Cows don't produce milk so that humans can drink it.  They produce it for their own purposes.  And to grant ourselves permission to take these things is to assume dominion over other species.  I think this is wrong.

I don't really buy into the "well, the chickens/cows had a happy life" reasoning.  I agree with bp that there is a continuum--less cruel choices, etc.--but suppose that we did the same thing with other human beings!  Suppose I took a group of children and spoiled them rotten by treating them like royalty, but made them all do work to further some goal of mine.  It doesn't matter how well I treat them, I am still exploiting them.  They do not have to right to self determination of their own lives.  Same when chickens are raised--humanely or not.

kmk beat me to it.

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my thing is this:

i'm not worried about proclaiming i'm vegan. if people ask me why i don't eat this or that, i say 'i'm vegan,' and yes, that usually the end of it.  i'm not interested in reasons to get them to leave me alone - that i'm allergic or that they are gross (which yes, i think they are).  i'm actually looking more at the theory.

#1 - i realize that not all eggs are fertilized.  in this particular case, yes, she does have a rooster.  in ' 'normal' (i.e. terrible) farming practices, i realize that hens are kept away from roosters, so that mating cannot take place = more eggs to sell and more $$.  so that is why i use the excuse 'it could have been a baby chick,' because that process has been denied.  my question is beyond that - in the case of this farm, hypothetically, you are not denying that process.  therefore, i'm curious what (in theory) vegans are opposed to.  just like you take the fruit of a plant, you are taking the egg of a hen.

#2 -
My issue with eggs is that you cannot farm them without exploiting a chicken.  You inevitably have to implement a system in which the hen's value is based on her ability to produce eggs.  You are using the hens for your own purposes.  I agree with baypuppy, doesn't matter if they're from your backyard or a factory.  It is exploitative of another species, no matter which way you slice it.  I am fundamentally opposed either way.

are you not farming other fruits and vegetables without exploiting the plant?  does a farmer not implement a system where the corn or soybean plant's value is based on its ability to produce?  i have a garden, and i care and nourish it, but because it will continue to produce yummy fruits and veggies for me.  in theory, is this not a similar practice?

don't get me wrong in any of these cases.  i have been a long-time veg*n because i believe strongly in animal rights.  going vegan was a fairly easy step for me, and i'm not questioning my dedication at all.  i'm absolutely fine telling people to stop pestering me - i don't tell them what to (or what not to) put in their bodies.  but i just recently began to look at the vegan ideology, and i sort of ran up against these things.  i thought maybe posting here and hearing the responses would give me new insight...

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miss v, i think the issues come in that plants and animals are two different catagories of living things. plants, for example, don't have feelings, social orders, and aren't "living" creatures the way animals are. like, for example, my cats are much different than my houseplants, even though i like both very much.

in terms of the use vegan, i know there is a slope here in terms of how people use it. being vegan, strictly, is not to use animal products in any ways - food, clothes, etc - but most of us also know that, in a society that is exploitative of everything (planet and everything on it), that the boundaries of vegan are almost required to be flexible. most of the vegans on here would say "do the best you can" in terms of not exploiting an animal's life for your own. we have to make choices that are consistent with the belief that, when we have the option not to exploit, that we do not exploit. an example would be that some of us might "order from the assumed safe list" when eating out (we've talked about this- how we have some things we assume are vegan but we don't check) and make the best of what we can where we're eating. this is different, to me, than going to the store/farmers market/wherever and getting some dairy/eggs to bring home and purposefully use. if that makes sense.

i don't think it matters, in theory, the nature or care that the chickens have. i think the best quote i've seen on this is from Alice Walker:

The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.

a large part of my feminist orientation is intersected with AR. i really like this quote because the boundary of "animal" is historically unstable and is used as a tool to justify the codification of the lives of others.

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are you not farming other fruits and vegetables without exploiting the plant?  does a farmer not implement a system where the corn or soybean plant's value is based on its ability to produce?  i have a garden, and i care and nourish it, but because it will continue to produce yummy fruits and veggies for me.  in theory, is this not a similar practice?

Depends on how you define "exploit".  I think with human intelligence we've been able to manipulate nature and grow plants and farm plants for our eating necessities, rather than hunt and gather.  With 6 billion people, this now makes sense to do rather than just gather what nature gives us, why not use our inteligence.  

I don't think we are "exploiting" plants.  Plants don't have a nervous system to feel pain and exploitation.  They can't feel the difference between being manipulated to grow in a farm and naturally in the wild.  So in my opinion it's not a similar practice.

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eggs won't hatch into chicks unless they're fertilized, right?  are all eggs that chickens lay fertilized? 

No.  All eggs that chickens lay are not fertilized.  Chickens pass unfertilized eggs just like we do.  They are fertilized if there is a rooster to fertilize them.

Yup. Basically it's like humans...no cock, no baby.
Um...cock and rooster are technical terms for male birds. Put your eyes back in your heads.

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thanks to everyone who has taken the time to write.  it has been interesting to learn about all the perspectives we take while on the path to self-enlightenment. 

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eggs won't hatch into chicks unless they're fertilized, right?  are all eggs that chickens lay fertilized? 

No.  All eggs that chickens lay are not fertilized.  Chickens pass unfertilized eggs just like we do.  They are fertilized if there is a rooster to fertilize them.

Yup. Basically it's like humans...no cock, no baby.
Um...cock and rooster are technical terms for male birds. Put your eyes back in your heads.

*giggles*

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i agree that it is exploitation of the plants and land (foraging as the exception), BUT since it is almost impossible in todays society to forage anywhere, i lessen my exploitation by taking advantage of the fact that it is more sustainable to eat only plants.

but i do also think that plants and animals are different in terms of feelings, etc. i don't feel bad about uprooting a plant. anyway, if i didn't do it because for some reason i did feel bad about the killing of it, i would die and be taking life anyway, so yeah.

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Unless you were fruitarian and only ate fruit, nuts, seeds, etc.

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I really like and respect KMK's view on this subject,  Ive never really put that much thought into it, I guess.  For myself it is a personal choice.  Ive had chickens for years, becouse for some insane reason I could never eat store bought eggs, they make me sick.  I have them becouse we always have chicks in the spring,(we buy them from my cousin, who incubates his own eggs) we watch them grow, my children take care of them and love them, Im supposed to always get female chicks but once in a while I get a rooster and this year I have THREE, I have found homes for two of them and am working on the third, becouse I don't want my eggs fertilized.  As stated in previous posts chickens lay eggs with or without the rooster, the eggs would just sit there and rot if not taken.  We eat them, this is our choice.  My chickens eat our compost , till up the gardens and act as little recyclers around the yard-I find them smart and itelligent creatures that happen to also be able to lay eggs we can enjoy.  If a hen happens to want to sit on some eggs I let her until she gets over it and then throw them away, but rarely does this happen without the rooster.  They come when we call and they all have names we love them and they are part of our family so to speak, so I personally don't think they are exploited in any way and I don't sell the eggs so I don't believe I am supporting the egg laying industry.  I again think this is a personal choice.  This just happens to be my view and how we live.  They do stop laying when the days get shorter and winter comes-then its all Tofu scrambles-I do not buy eggs in the store, nor do I eat products with eggs in them.  But I get the whole debate thing, like if I had a cow would I drink the milk? No this is different the milk is available becouse of a birth of a calf and this would involve taking the calf away and then stealing its food.  I don't feel like Im stealing from the chickens, they abandon the eggs anyway, in my opinion it's different and it's not like I even keep the chickens captive they have a big hen house my husband built for them they return to every night.  Of course since I have chickens, I would support the eating of eggs, but I respect and understand this is not for everyone.

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