I just watched the short film Story Of An Egg after reading about it on Huffington Post. I found myself sympathizing with the farmers who are trying to find more ethical ways of farming eggs, and I used to love eating eggs myself – but I can’t help but be unsettled by the assumption that we have to go on exploiting animals to live happy, fulfilled, healthy lives.
Eggs can be a great source of nutrition for humans, it’s true. But do we need them – are plant-based proteins just not enough for us? Can we justify our need? (I couldn’t, which is why I’m vegan now.)
What happens when pasture-raised chickens become unproductive or too old to produce a lot of eggs? Do they get a safe retirement for the rest of their years, at a sanctuary? If they did that would be awesome, but I’d be surprised. And what happens to the boy chicks that hatch when farms needs to select out females to produce the next generation of eggs? I see a lot of free roosters on the community board at Agway, and on Craig’s List. Are they all given a safe retirement? Or do they end up in a soup pot? (Note that in many farms, the boys meet grisly deaths shortly after hatching; please educate yourself if you consume eggs and aren’t aware of the details.)
I really love my local farmers and support their businesses as much as I can. But I have a hard time with the practice of farming animals. I just can’t see it as anything other than a dominant group using its power and privilege to confine and exploit an oppressed group without their consent. I take heart in the occasional story of cattlemen gone vegan, or pigs given their personhood. And I dream that one day, we all may find ourselves in new forms of interdependence with the animals around us, forms that are founded on respect for others’ autonomy.