But I Eat Free Range Eggs

June 7, 2010

I tell people I am vegan and they might say “but what about eggs, do you eat them?”, I then explain that a vegan does not eat eggs from exploited chickens and they might respond with something like “well, I only eat eggs that are free range”. I am left to wonder if there are many people who realise that by eating free range eggs they are still contributing to the mistreatment and slaughter of millions of innocent lives, the lives of sentient beings (they feel).

Now, by choosing to eat free range eggs it tells me that these people do have a conscience about where their food comes from – they obviously care enough not to eat eggs from battery hens. It also tells me that they do not know the full truth. Unfortunately, we have become so far removed from where our food comes from and what happens in the process for it to get to our plate that we just automatically believe what is told to us, a fairy-tale image of happy hens in open paddocks laying eggs whenever they feel like it.

Unlike the image that free range means something like the photo above, here is the truth:

There are no standards in New Zealand regarding free range. So what does that mean? What does free range mean anyway? All it means is that they are not in a small cage. Nothing more. It means that some still never see the light of day. It means that they can still be kept in cramped conditions. It means that they still go to the slaughterhouse on an assembly line chain just like the battery hens. It means that millions of day-old chicks are discarded simply because they are born the ‘wrong’ sex or not ‘egg-laying’ condition.

Just like the battery hens these so-called free range girls go to slaughter when their egg production takes a decline. And to replace these hens after going to slaughter? More females have to be born. The gender ratio is roughly 50/50 from hatched eggs, so what happens to the baby boys? Well, on the first or second day of birth they get sexed, by someone who inserts their finger (you know where) to determine if they are a boy or girl. The boys and the girls deemed not suitable for egg laying are then discarded, some gassed with the likes of carbon dioxide, some appallingly get fed into crushers – alive. Into giant mincers they are stripped of limbs and wings and crushed. Both methods are horrid, horrid thing to do. So this means that for every hen that becomes an egg-layer just over one chick had to die.

The female chicks are not raised by their mothers (who I might add are wonderful mothers) they are raised in artificial incubators, with artificial light and heat and many commercial incubators holding tens of thousands of eggs at a time, with rotation of the eggs a fully automated process.

At about 21 days after being layed they hatch and are then ready for the outside world – a world of artificial light and artificial food, sexed and sorted and if ‘kept’ generally debeaked at around 10-days-old. Debeaking is done without any painkiller and is an extremely painful experience. Why do they get debeaked? Because under stress they peck each other. You might think that if they peck each other then they should be debeaked, wrong, if they are not living under stress they quickly establish a ‘pecking-order’ and no longer need to take out their depression on others. Given room, natural food and a good life there is no need for depression, hence, no reason for pecking, hence, no reason for debeaking.

These little girls are then raised until their egg production starts at which point they could be fed chemicals to make their egg yolk look more golden and to make them lay more often. They then lay on average up to 300 eggs within that year, pumping them out. So think about it, one hen works for just under 12-days to supply a dozen eggs.

They are still young (12-months) when they naturally go through a short moulting period at which time their egg production declines. The cost of feeding, and the non-generating-of-income means that they do not get to wait for their moult to finish before egg production comes back, they are sent to the slaughterhouse. Still young, still in their prime. Hens, depending on the breed, will live from five to about ten years of age, they go to the slaughterhouse at one.

With thanks to http://www.nzeggs.webs.com/ for this image

To get to the slaughterhouse they are picked up upside down by their feet and shoved into crates to be transported where they then get shackled upside down onto a chain which dips their heads into a waterbath. The waterbath stuns them only, it does not kill them. The back of their neck is then sliced, and in some cases their spinal cord can be cut but they may regain consciousness only to have their heads pulled off on another machine.

What a traumatic way to live and die. Thought of as just egg laying machines without thought, care or compassion, and so easily replaced with more suffering birds. And the cycle goes on, round and round.

Now, think back to when you were young, your mum or dad possibly read you children’s books with cute little chicks on the cover or on the pages, think back to how you saw them then – did you get the warm fuzzies? I know I did. Well those cute little chicks are no different from the ones born in the egg industry, minced into nuggets or to live very short miserable lives. Whether they are born male or female does not make their lives or deaths any better, they are all treated like commodities. As a child would you have wanted that? No, so now as an adult you have the choice to say “no, I will not tolerate it, I will not!”.

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Where do cows get their calcium?

July 27, 2009

Demand dictates and greed/profit supplies. The dairy industry inflicts unnecessary and inhumane suffering on cows and of course their babies. Not only are the cows painfully inseminated frequently with sperm from genetic companies, ensuring continuous pregnancy and lactation, but once their babies are born they are torn (both crying) from their mothers, sometimes a couple of days old, often only a couple of hours old. The calves either go to the slaughterhouse for their little bodies to support the veal meat industry and their tiny stomachs to make rennet for the cheese industry or if they are a healthy female they go into an often unsheltered paddock with other ‘torn’ babies and fed on an inferior product other than their mother’s natural milk (non-saleable milk or milk replacer). They are then put onto solid feeds at only six to eight weeks, only for the same fateful life as their mothers feared, to be continuously pregnant or lactating with no chance ever to bond with the (up to 10) babies they deliver.

Alone in a crowd on a cold frosty morning

Alone in a crowd on a cold frosty morning

The calves who go to the slaughterhouse suffer terribly on their journey in cattle trucks where they struggle to keep their footing. They are generally cold and hungry by the time they get to the slaughterhouse. A calf does not want to die, a cow does not want her baby to die. All a cow wants to do is bond with and feed her baby and all a calf wants to do is bond with and feed from his or her mother – and they would do this for anything up to 12 months.

Cows would naturally live up to 25-years of age but are sent to the slaughterhouse when their milk declines generally when they are 7-10 years of age. But before their untimely death they are often kept in paddocks without any shelter and suffer in summer from the heat and in winter from the cold winds and here in the South Island we have some serious frosts and even snow. And because they no longer have their babies to feed, they are walked to milking sheds and can suffer lameness, an agonizing thing to suffer from, from the walk which can be quite a distance or from standing on the concrete at the milking sheds. 

What a horrible thing to do to sentient beings!!! A cruel and unnecessary thing to do to such a docile animal, just so we as humans can have a glass of milk in the morning.

Some people will justify, or ignore the above treatment because it is believed or they are told that the milk is a great source of calcium but the truth is most of us are just not aware and are not informed of the horrors of the milk industry.

Well, I am here to ask you something, why do cows have calcium in their milk? They don’t get it from drinking milk. Did you do your chemistry at school and learn that calcium is a mineral? Minerals come from the ground in which plants grow, so in essence the cows get calcium because they eat plants. I know we are not going to all rush out and eat grass or clover, our bodies can’t digest it properly, but keeping in mind that grass and clover are only two plants in a huge list of plants then you know exactly what I am going to suggest, don’t you? Yes! Eat plants, get your calcium from the source and not the cow.

The other important factor is of course that a cow’s milk is produced for optimum growth of her calf i.e. it increases cell growth rapidly. So what do you think it does to the cells of a human when consumed? That’s right, increases cell growth, and if you have cells that are abnormal then they grow extra fast too. And surely, if the cow was put on this planet for her milk to be consumed by humans don’t you think it would have been the right composition for human consumption. For humans who consume excessive amounts of dairy products it actually interferes with calcium absorption. Cows’ milk is made for calves, just like cats’ milk is made for kittens, horses’ milk is made for foals and humans’ milk is made for human infants.

vitasoy ricemilkAlternative milks are rice milk, soy milk, oat milk, almond milk, or how about making your own nut or seed milk out of  cashews or macadamias perhaps (replacing the honey from recipes of course). For alternative dairy replacement ideas visit NZ Dairy Cruelty’s site. There is a huge range of things that will naturally give you enough calcium to lead a very calcium-filled life, some of which are as follows, and this is by no means the complete list:

  • Almonds
  • Apricots
  • Avocado
  • Brazil nuts
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carob powder
  • Chick peas
  • Collard greens
  • Currants
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Hazelnuts
  • Kale leaves
  • Kelp
  • Lentils
  • Linseed
  • Molasses
  • Mung beans
  • Navy beans
  • Okra
  • Olives
  • Parsley
  • Pinto beans
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Rhubarb
  • Rice milk (calcium enriched)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Silverbeet
  • Soybeans
  • Spinach
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Tofu (set with calcium)
  • Turnip greens
  • Walnuts
  • White beans