Tried buying eggs ethically lately? It’s bloody complicated. Obviously we all know that caged or “battery” hens suffer enormously in their short lives, and buying eggs so produced is propping up a cruel industry. But there are alternatives that don’t involve animal abuse, aren’t there?
Please don’t abuse us, we say while looking our cutest.
For a while I thought it would be alright as long as I bought eggs approved by the RSPCA – the “barn laid” ones with the RSPCA logo. Then I saw reports about dodgy farms still being accredited and such confidence was severely shaken.
Okay. So, maybe not the “barn-laid” eggs. What’s left, then? If you can’t trust the RSPCA, who can you trust? The supermarket shelves have a selection of “free range” eggs – many from the same farms (like Pace) that have been cynically fooling the RSPCA – but what exactly is the definition of “free range”, anyway? For a very brief period in Victoria (1989-1995) we had such a legislated definition, but then Kennett got in, deregulated the egg industry and those restrictions vanished. There is a free range industry group that has a definition that might hold, which appears to be the safest bet for the consumer trying to find a vaguely ethical choice on the supermarket shelf. But it’s still not as if anyone’s being regularly checked for compliance.
Of course, Animal Liberation Victoria would rather consumers didn’t buy eggs at all:
- Half the chicks hatched are male and are killed at one day old by the egg industry because they’ll never lay eggs. They are macerated in industrial blenders, suffocated in plastic bags or drowned in buckets.
- All laying hens used in commercial egg production are slaughtered prematurely when their economic productivity decreases.
- The parents of all egg laying hens (both battery and free range) are locked in breeding sheds. The hens in these sheds are mated continually making their backsides completely raw and swollen. The floor is often covered with a thick layer of excrement causing the air to be toxic with ammonia.
Then all the little male chicks were liquefied.
They suggest using “egg replacements like ‘No-Egg’ in baking or Silken Tofu instead of scrambled eggs” – which, frankly, I don’t think would work for either meringues or the burger patties I make.
Buggered if I know what to do, though. Maybe we’ll have to get our own hens.