But eggs are OK right? I only buy free-range, and chickens lay them naturally. What’s the problem with that?
If you’re vegan, the likelihood is that someone has said this, or similar, to you at least once. Because when it comes to eating eggs, or perhaps more accurately, not eating eggs, there is a real air of confusion.
Despite the horrors inflicted on chickens through modern farming methods, eggs seem to have retained a wholesome, ‘Walton-esque’ image. As if they are disconnected from the chickens themselves. There’s an illusion that eggs pop out, as if by magic, with little or no effect on the hen, and it’s likely that many people still imagine them being collected fresh, every morning, by a little girl in a striped pinafore dress and pigtails.
So why is this? Why are eggs still regarded as this sacrosanct ‘good thing’ when, let’s face it, what you’re actually eating is an unfertilised baby with a high cholesterol count. The answer: marketing.
The term ‘Free-Range’ was coined to encourage us to keep buying eggs. Animal welfare was hitting the news, and it looked like eggs could lose their rightful place on the dining and breakfast table. What’s more, the higher price point seemed to tally with its ethical stance; paying more for a dozen only seemed to further solidify free-range’s cruelty-free reputation.
As consumers we’ve been led to believe that buying free-range is a positive thing, and the knock-on effect of this is that we feel good about ourselves. These chickens live comfortable, contented lives, popping out eggs whenever they feel like it, and we happily pay a bit more for these guilt-free spoils. Right? Wrong.
Out of all the names and phrases created by animal agriculture, none has been subjected to as much marketing as ‘free-range’. Free-range is absolutely not the carefree, cruelty-free ideal we’ve been led to believe it is. But you don’t have to take our word for it, because in this instance, the facts more than speak for themselves… Click here for more
(This article was first published in the December 2015 edition of Vegan Food & Living.)