Eggs can be delicious. Lots of foods rely on them. It is said that the sign of a good chef is being able to cook a perfect egg.
Let’s be honest, though. Eggs are also kind of weird. Who hasn’t looked at the slimy insides of a raw egg, or — even worse — cracked open an egg to discover a bloody inside, and been a little grossed out?
For a long time, I quashed the grossed out feelings about eggs. Even if you don’t eat egg dishes, they show up in a lot of other foods, like baked items and salad dressings. So I ate them.
A lot of little things prompted me to stop eating eggs, but one pivotal moments stands out in my memory. I was driving to work, and it suddenly looked almost like it was snowing. Little white things were drifting around over the freeway. After a few minutes, I realized that the “snow” was actually thousands of broken chicken feathers. A truck ahead of me was transporting chickens. It consisted of four layers of wire cages. The birds could see out of the cages and feel the wind that was literally ripping out their feathers (the truck was going over the speed limit). The open wire cages meant that the excrement from the higher layer chickens would drop onto the lower chickens. They were squeezed into the cages so tightly that they were all standing still because they didn’t have room to really move. Driving behind this truck, I felt sick to my stomach. I also felt horrifically guilty that I could have ever contributed to any living thing being treated like that.
Animal treatment is one of the main reasons that I gave up eggs. I know that there are well treated chickens in the world. My mother-in-law, for example, keeps chickens, and she loves those birds. They are extremely well cared for and live very happy lives. Unfortunately, most chickens do not live like hers do. The conditions of most farm-raised (and I use the term farm very loosely here, as they are more like animal factories) are atrocious. (I don’t have space to discuss all of the horrors of the chicken industry here, but this site offers a pretty good overview: Encyclopedia Britannica: Advocacy for Animals.
In addition to caring about the animals, I care about the planet. Eggs are a greener protein choice than beef, for example, but they still aren’t exactly great for the planet either. Most commercial eggs are from factory farms (also called battery farms or CAFOs–this means the animals live primarily indoors in small cages and can’t engage in natural behaviors). Factory farms are surprisingly horrible for the planet. It is easy to see the pollution coming from car factories, for example, but factory farms are actually releasing a lot of pollution as well. (You can read more about this here.)
A lot of people will argue that eggs are nutritious and good for you. As part of a balanced diet, they can be included as a protein source. However, modern farming practices do affect the quality of the eggs and what it includes. Also, there are lots of other, plant based protein sources that can replace eggs in your diet. Vegan protein sources offer the same protein with a lot less cholesterol. (Click here for information on some vegan protein sources). In short, I didn’t need eggs in my diet.
I realize that not everyone is ready to give up eggs. However, I personally haven’t missed them. I feel healthier now than I did a year ago, and I like knowing that I’m not contributing to factory farming.