Ovo-vegetarians avoid all meat, but will eat eggs. In and of itself, this is not a foolish idea, as eggs are a good source of protein and Vitamin B12. However, if one considers themself "vegetarian" for ethical reasons, they might as well eat chicken meat also. Why?

Let's start from the beginning. When eggs are hatched to produce new egg-bearing chickens, all of the males are instantly discarded. In a large factory farm, like the ones that produce nearly all of the eggs at the supermarket, they dispose of them as inexpensively as possible. They are either tossed into garbage buckets (to suffocate or starve), or ground up alive. You might ask "Why don't they let them grow into large meat-bearing roosters?" Most farms use breeds that have been selectively bred over many generations to produce lots of eggs. Chickens used for meat have been bred to grow large and plump very quickly.

In many farms, the chickens are kept in stacked cages that adhere to USDA recommendations. Current standards encourage farmers to jam four chickens into a cage that is only sixteen inches wide. The cages are so small that the chickens easily bruise and lose most of their feathers over the course of their lives. In order to accelerate production, hens are sometimes starved for over two weeks. The constant cycle of egg production depletes them of calcium faster than they can absorb it, so they often suffer from osteoporosis, bone fractures, and paralysis. They develop strange behaviors and often peck themselves, so most hens have their beaks cut off early on. This brutal process cuts through cartilage, bone, and skin, and no, they don't anesthetize them.

After about a year, most hens are too weak to continue, so they are sent off to a low-quality butchery to be mechanically processed. Their bodies are too bruised and small to be sold whole, so they are usually crushed and extruded to separate their brittle bones from the meat. The calcium depletion is so bad that many chickens literally shatter while being slaughtered.

Despite all of this, I can't resist eggs. I buy Omega-3 enriched "Cage Free" eggs that come from a local farm. I've heard that "cage free" only means they have to have a physical method of getting outside, but somehow I trust that this small farm doesn't abuse its chickens so badly. Hopefully the FDA/USDA will come up with some decent standards, but I wouldn't hold my breath...

To the kind schmo who softlinked "hypocrite," might I ask what exactly is hypocritical about showcasing the foolishiness in being a vegetarian for ethical reasons while still eating eggs? I didn't say I was a vegetarian...

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