by Anaïs Schlienger
How did I come to this realization?
My father has hens, he lives in a small city and has a big garden. He loves his hens with all his heart. He cooks rice especially for them, takes the time to chop the vegetables’ peelings for them and adds oats in their food. They are the happiest as they can be.
Every day, or every two days, a hen lays an egg. And they won’t stop doing it just because a human did not take the eggs out of the henhouse. Eventually, they will start hatching the egg, but we don’t have a rooster, so what’s the point? It keeps doing it for a day or two and moves on.
I didn’t see any reasons why I should not eat their eggs. They did not tick a single case of all the reasons that motivated me to go vegan.
Eating animal products is not ethical towards living beings
I saw how people can put 50 hens in one square meter. They can’t even walk, so they just get bigger and bigger. They move so little that their legs are too weak to hold their weight, they break under it and the hens are paralyzed, laying in the same ground that is covered with their excrements.
But this is not the case everywhere. Not all farms are that bad and some are very respectful. Why I look at the hens in my garden, they look genuinely happy. They do what they want, use the space they want, and are treated like queens. If organic farms are at a much larger scale, they nonetheless offer great space, great food, and decent treatment to the hens. Choose organic, free-range eggs. If you can pay $5 for a portion of tofu or seitan, you can pay $5 for a box of eggs. If organic, respectful farmers are better paid and generate more income than they used to, they will develop, and others will be encouraged to do the same. So your expense supports local farmers and not big companies who produce massively.
Veganism is for the planet
Reducing meat consumption reduces the emissions of C02 and other greenhouse gases (NH4). It also reduces the consumption of water. A vegetarian diet produces 2.5 times less carbon than a meat-friendly diet. But what about eggs? Eggs have pretty low greenhouse emissions. According to a 2009 study by the ADEME, eggs pollutes 5 times less than cheese and 10 times less than beef (kg equivalent carbon). Of course, it is still higher than vegetables.
Eggs are local
What you can’t take away from eggs is that they are always grown locally. Can we say the same for all vegetables and fruits? We already know about bananas, avocados, pineapples. What we don’t think about is sweet potatoes. If you live in Europe, you can be sure your sweet potatoes come from the US. And tomatoes don’t grow all year long. Guess what? Hens always produce eggs, everywhere.
Replacing eggs is worse than eating them
I agree that eating eggs emits its lot of CO2 and NH4. But when you want to take the eggs out of your diet, you need to replace them. And these food replacements might be worse for the planet that just eating the eggs right away. The more common food replacement I see for eggs (in cakes at least) are bananas and ‘flax eggs’. Bananas often come from South America or Africa. Flax eggs and made with flax seeds (Russia, China, Egypt) or chia seeds (Mexico). If I stop myself from taking the plane to pollute less, why would I consume fruits that have traveled more than me? Moreover, eating local means also supporting the local economy. That is something the pandemic has taught us.
Your health matters
I grew up thinking eggs would raise our cholesterol, because the doctor told my granddad it was bad for him. Again, it’s the drug lobby talking. With the year, we gained some transparency. And eggs are not that bad at all.
All the good eggs can do to you
- Of course, they are full of protein and so are extremely satiating.
- The egg yolks are loaded vitamin D, which protects the brain, prevents cognitive decline and dementia.
- They are really good for the eyes. They contain lutein, which protects against degenerative diseases of the eye (diabetic retinopathy, AMD and cataracts).
- They are a great source of necessary fats.
- Finally, they reduce high blood pressure.
If we are going to live longer, we might as well live better.
Again, what they absolutely don’t do — and I want to insist on it — is that they do not increase cholesterol levels neither do they increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Let’s sum it up:
Eggs do not inherently violate the ethical, environmental or health reasons to go vegan. They fundamentally do not go against any of the principles and that is why I do not feel bad at all when I eat eggs.