Monday, July 9, 2007

The Chicken and the Egg

Edited to add a picture of the eggs. Aren't they gorgeous? The blue ones come from Ameraucana hens.

Tomorrow I'm going to see a man about some eggs. As I've mentioned, a farmers' market comes to my office once a week. (My office contains over 5,000 people, so this is not as strange as it seems.) I'm not 100% vegan, but most of my lacto-ovo transgressions occur during the weekend. I love eggs for Sunday brunch and the energy they give me for the rest of the day.

One of the farmers at the market brings a limited amount of eggs to sell; you have to put your name on a list beforehand to have a chance at getting some. I'm first on the list this week but there is no guarantee of eggs. "The girls" (as the farmer calls the hens) can be cantankerous when the weather is hot. If they don't feel like laying eggs, no eggs will be sold. Obviously, these are truly free-range hens and they live something close to a natural chicken-life. I am an aspiring vegan for two reasons: health and animal welfare. I am willing to accept the health risk of 2 eggs a week. My talks with this farmer reassure me that the animals are well-treated. Other vegans reading this, would you buy eggs in this circumstance? Why or why not?

(Non-vegans are welcome to comment as well, of course. I'm not looking for support for my decision; I've already made it. Just curious about whether other people see a difference between buying eggs at the grocery store and buying eggs from the person who collected them.)


Katyola said...

I don't always manage to do it, but I've often bought free-range eggs at a farmer's market in Goochland. There's a big difference — I know the farm where the eggs come from, and the farmers are much kinder to their chickens and cows than any corporate farm, but it's also self-sustainable. I think it's good to support businesses like this, because there are always going to be grocery-store eggs (whose provenance is doubtful), but if we don't seek out the free-range, locally produced eggs, they could disappear.

Monika K said...

Apart from health reasons, don't most vegans oppose egg consumption because of the poor treatment that chickens endure in order to produce the eggs? If you're purchasing eggs from a local famer and can ensure that the chickens aren't being abused, I don't see a problem with buying the eggs. After all, chickens lay eggs whether people collect and eat them or not. It seems like a waste not to do something with the eggs...but that's just me.

Anonymous said...

I'm not saying I agree or disagree with this, but here's peta's reasoning against eggs. Alot of the argument seems to be based on factory farming practices.

Vegetation said...

I see a difference. My husband has a friend who has a property on bushland. He has many many chickens and a barn for them to lay in. They come in to lay if they want to and he only takes the eggs they leave in there. They're free to go bush, wherever they want and they eventually die of old age. To me this is how they should be living so if he gives us eggs, then eggs I will eat.

Theresa said...

After two years as a vegan, I wouldn't buy eggs in those circumstances. Mainly because they gross me out now that I haven't eaten them in ages.

But, this issue is one that Andy and I are constantly discussing. His hypothetical is more like 'if we had chickens and you knew they weren't exploited, but they just so happened to lay eggs, would you pick them up and eat them?' And I really don't know. I do know that my first priority would be to return some of the eggs to the chickens as food, because that is good for them and what they would do if left to their own devices. But if they were producing more than they could eat... I still don't think I could do it. Eggs just squick me out too much.

RV Amy said...

Thanks for the discussion, everyone. I know that some vegans believe that we humans shouldn't use animal products at all, no matter what their provenance. As I've explained, I don't fall into that category.

Theresa, I can definitely understand how you find eggs gross now. I wouldn't eat meat even if it came from a happy, free animal that died of natural causes.

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