For most of us, it is hard to imagine a nice breakfast without eggs. They are delicious, filled with protein and easy to prepare. Sadly, producing eggs is quite different than how it was thousands of years ago.
Before the demand was off the roof, chickens used to live in barns in roomy environments. Farmers would collect their eggs first thing in the morning and move on with their days.
Is eating eggs cruel to chickens?
However, as the age of automation dawned upon us, mankind found a way to speed up this process. Speeding it up meant adopting practices that could be considered unethical and disgusting by most of us but since most of the consumers do not want to know about how their food is processed until it comes to their table, egg producers have been getting away with their shady practices.
It makes sense though, if no one is asking questions, why would they feel like needing to change anything?
For those of you who are not up to date with egg producers’ ways, let me fill you in. The eggs we consume come from hens. And apart from producing infertile eggs that we mostly eat, they also produce fertile eggs.
When the fertile eggs hatch, there is a 50/50 chance of it being a male or a female. Well, one could think that females would be on their way to produce eggs while the males would be utilized as roosters, right? Wrong, since male chickens do not lay eggs and also are not suitable for meat production, they are basically worthless in the eyes of the producers.
Sadly, these “unwanted products” aka the male chicks, only get to live a couple of hours as they are disposed of shortly after their birth. The ways of their disposal are quite cruel and involve electrocution, gassing or grinding. This is the fate of countless male chicks around the world and since the end consumers are not keen on finding more about their foods, their fate stays the same.
Are we killing chicks by eating eggs?
The short answer to this is no, Consumers who are aware of this very issue either stop buying and consuming eggs completely or try to look for labels such as “organic and free-range”.
To be fair, neither of these options seems to have a real impact on the matter. And the only reason behind this is that there just are not enough people aware of this very issue. The majority of people prefer turning the other cheek.
Saying that we are killing countless chicks every year as average consumers would be an overstatement. However, keeping quiet about this issue and not promoting solutions could be considered harsher.
We have to come to a mutual understanding and come up with solutions while drawing attention to the issue and urge authorities to keep producers in check.
What to do?
Luckily, there has been some light shed onto this situation in Europe as France is getting ready to ban widespread practicing of mass shredding of male chicks.
And researchers in Germany and the Netherlands found a way to identify a chick’s gender before its egg even hatches. This is done by inserting a needle into the egg and testing its DNA. This essentially eliminates torture since chicks will not need to be born and slaughtered right after.
Also, predetermination could also help us eliminate waste as male eggs can be used in the egg supply chain for vaccines and pet food. Basically, chicks will no longer be slaughtered on the first day of their life and we will be utilizing more of our stock!
The best thing we can do as consumers is express our discomfort and urge companies to take action. In situations like this, being loud can do wonders.
Due to the recent breakthroughs in research studies and activists showing their concerns, even United Egg Producers are planning to stop shredding chicks by 2020 as long as solutions are commercially available and economically feasible.
The last line makes it sound a bit sinister but hopefully, they will get there!