BLOG: “But These Eggs Are Cage-Free”

KATIE PICKRELL

I’m starting to get annoying about this whole blogging thing, so why not have people yell “Spot the Vegan!” when they click on my writing?

I’d like to start off by saying I was an avid meat-eater for most of my life. In fourth grade, I even protested my school’s usage of soy meat for being unhealthy and promoting hormonal imbalances. Most importantly of all, though, why wouldn’t my school serve me up some real home-fried chicken?

My fall into veganism wasn’t too quick. I was a vegetarian for about three years before I decided to go full veg.

Given that background, I have never judged someone else’s decision to eat meat, eggs, milk or whatever else they choose to indulge upon. I’ve never even asked twice when the school fills up with leather boots in the fall and winter season and admit myself to the accidental ownership of a few rayon infused sweaters.

That all being said, why is it that my dietary options, which are (unlike most) fully conscious, continuously brought into question?

The most common thing I get is, “Well the animals already dead.” Without being too gruesome, it is notable that the animal is only dead because some company owner acknowledged the desire for meat. If there were no desire for a hamburger or a chicken sandwich, there would be no dead cows or chickens.

If people can get past the whole “I don’t want to kill something for my own benefit” thing, they seem to struggle jumping over the no dairy, no eggs bridge.

“Well, these chickens live on an open-range cage-free farm,” I hear just about every time I eat anything.

The truth behind it is that cage-free is as companies want cage-free to be.

Except for the label of “certified organic,” the government has no say in what companies plaster across their egg cartons.

For quick guide to whether or not your “cage-free” eggs are as humane as they sound, consider this:

Cage-free chickens are cleared from cages and free to walk or roam about. The space they are allowed to encompass, however, varies. Cage-free chickens are not required to have outdoor living space. Cage-free chicken practices also do not prohibit beak-cutting or starvation-based forced molting.

Free-range chickens are also not enclosed in a strict cage and, better than cage-free, are also allowed outdoors. Space still has no minimum, so it’s impossible to tell how much roaming the animals truly do. Beak-cutting and starvation-based forced molting is still not prohibited.

Pasture-raised chickens and certified organic eggs are raised in a similar manner as free-range chickens.

Vegetarian-fed, natural, farm fresh, fertile, Omega-3 enriched and pasteurized, on the other hand, mean absolutely nothing.

I’m not saying to stop eating eggs or stop drinking milk or even stop eating meat. It would be awesome if more people made conscious dietary decisions, but I understand the odds of that happening are slim.

I am, however, asking that you don’t question the vegan in the room unless you know they’re comfortable discussing it. In my current position given my knowledge and attitude, I don’t really mind the questions (depending on who they come from). Still, it should be appreciated that a lot feel awkward enough as it is. I can also assure you questioning them and trying to convince them to change their ways probably won’t work. Even if they don’t bite back, they’ve put a lot of thought into their dietary choices and it’ll take a lot of thought to turn back.

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