Many times, vegans themselves are confused about what veganism actually means. The definition of veganism states that no one exploits or is cruel to animals or uses them for clothing or food when it is plausible and possible to do so.
As a vegan, I understand the hardships you face. I didn’t live in a vegan household, so I had to learn what veganism meant and how to apply it to my life. It’s sometimes hard to know what manufacturers call animal fat and what to stay away from, so diligence is involved.
A question I get asked often is, “Can vegans eat eggs from their chickens?” No, if you’re a vegan, you cannot eat eggs even from your own ethically raised chickens.
Many vegans prefer to raise animals, such as chickens, as free-range. They may have rescued or adopted the chickens without the intention of raising them as food.
It is against the veganism creed to sell animal products, but giving animals a place to live out their natural life is acceptable to most vegans.
Chicken invariably lay eggs; that’s what they do, and it’s natural. What do you do with all of the eggs? Some vegans believe that they can eat or use eggs in dishes if they raise them humanely. You know they weren’t treated cruelly, and you’re not forcing the chickens to lay the eggs. Most people argue that it’s a waste of food, as well.
I can understand your position on the matter, and it could appear, initially, to be harmless to consume leftover eggs that are just going to rot away. This question should be broken down further to ask if backyard eggs are ethical and if you should own chickens in the first place.
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Where Do the Chickens Come From?
When it comes to backyard eggs from your own chickens, the first consideration is the sourcing of the chickens. Where did your chickens come from initially?
Chickens usually come from a breeder, and you can search online to find plenty of them. Such breeders only want the female chicks (hens) and suffocate or otherwise kill the day-old males because they can’t reproduce.
The egg industry doesn’t care at all about male chickens and don’t use them for meat. It’s not profitable to egg dealers or breeders to raise or care for the roosters because there’s no profit in it.
Some vegans prefer to buy the hen from a farmer, but this backfires, too. Farmers treat their chickens like inventory or objects. That’s part of the reason why farmed animals are called livestock. In the end, you are giving money to support chicken exploitation, so you can’t technically call yourself a vegan if you own a chicken or hen.
Egg-laying Naturally Versus Manipulation
For most people, that puts a rest to the question, can vegans eat eggs from their own chickens? The answer is no because vegans shouldn’t own chickens. Doing so means that somewhere up the line, you most likely bought into their exploitation.
If that wasn’t enough to prevent you from owning chickens and eating eggs, think about this: Hens are designed to have a menstrual cycle sometimes daily depending on the time of the year.
Most breeders and farmers manipulate the breeding process to produce many more eggs than a hen should produce. Technically, you are exploiting the species and its reproductive system to get more eggs.
Naturally, hens lay between 12 and 20 eggs each year in the spring for reproducing. In the 1900s, hens were producing about 120 eggs a year, and currently, they are forced to lay between 200 and 350 eggs in a year. (source)
Chickens have an instinct to lay more eggs if the eggs are taken from them. Owning a chicken and removing the egg encourages them to produce more. The fewer eggs you take, the fewer eggs they lay.
Laying all these eggs also requires a lot of calcium. A hen requires 2g of calcium per egg she produces in order to make the shell.
Taking eggs from your hen daily puts a lot of strain on her body and can make her calcium deficient if not supplemented properly.
In the end, being a vegan is about not exploiting animals. So even if you’re taking the best care of your chickens, you can’t deny that eating their eggs is a form of exploitation.
When Is It Okay To Own A Chicken?
Rescue hens are those that are taken from farms and factories that have poor conditions. It’s perceived as a compassionate thing to do.
If you own a rescue hen, you’re commended, but only if you do it for the right reasons. If you ascribe to the vegan lifestyle, then wanting to adopt a hen so that it can give you a food source goes against that.
I’ve noticed that many vegans who want to consume eggs use the logic that they’re providing an open and safe environment and are getting a few eggs, too. The paradigm needs to shift as to how everyone views chickens.
If you adopt a dog or cat, you don’t get food or a textile source in return. You’re doing it for the love and attention they give you.
If I rescue a hen and expect to get eggs from her because I take care of her, it’s a business exchange. I’m looking at the chicken as being an asset rather than a pet.
You’ve got to be prepared to support your hen as you might a dog or cat. Though they are relatively inexpensive to buy and free when rescued, you’ve got vet bills, check-ups, and the rest.
What if the vet bill to help your sick chicken was $500? Are you going to pay for it? People spend that much on domesticated animals, but we associate a chicken’s value as lower. This is because our relationship with the backyard chicken is more of an exchange and not companionship or love.
Final Thoughts On Vegans Eating Eggs From Their Own Chickens
No, vegans cannot eat the eggs from chickens they own and raise. If you rescued a chicken or otherwise own one, you don’t have to waste the eggs.
The chicken can eat them herself, which provides the nutrients she needs like calcium. Leave any extra eggs alone because it tells her that she doesn’t need to produce as many.
As a vegan, you must put yourself in the proverbial shoes of the hen. It takes a hen 24 hours and a lot of energy to produce an egg. Her body is constantly working when you keep taking them away.
Focus on her needs rather than yours. Take care of your companion and let her live a comfortable and relaxing life. You’re going to feel better about yourself by doing so.