When it comes to rescuing hens, we should be quite troubled by the idea of doing so just to get eggs from them. People happily adopt and rescue cats, dogs, and other animals without wanting to get food or labour from them. So why can’t we extend the same compassion to hens who’ve come from a life of exploitation, without wanting to exploit them further?
Finally, hens are not able to give us their consent to take their eggs. When it comes to most moral issues, we generally assume that where somebody is not able to give their consent, we should assume they have not given it. This should be no different for animals. It is not fair to assume consent simply because they are unable to say no to us. If we use an animal in any way – no matter how kind we believe our treatment of them to be or how mutually ‘beneficial’ we believe it to be, we are still exploiting them. This is a problem because every time we exploit an animal or use their bodies for our own benefit, we contribute to their status as property rather than allowing them to be individuals who exist for their own purposes.
It’s because humans regard animals as property that humans treat animals the way they do. The only way to change the way animals are treated is to do everything we can to change the idea of animals as property – and one of the strongest ways to do that is to stop regarding animals’ bodies and anything that comes from them as food or any other kind of commodity. I know from personal experience that it can be difficult to stop looking at animals as food/resources but in time you come to wonder how you ever considered them in that way for so long. As the sharks in Finding Nemo liked to say, ‘friends, not food’!
Other Myths about hens and their eggs: