Vegan Decisions: the chicken & the eggs

Vegan Decisions: the chicken & the eggs

If you’re looking for a straw-to-break-the-camels-back reason to go veggie or vegan, read on.

I start with a statement (NB: conscious choice of words there, it’s not a confession. History is history, guilt is futile). When it comes to meat, for many of my first 40 years on this cosmic football, I’ve eaten and enjoyed it. Life long vegans or veggies, don’t beat me up – I’ve seen the light and all that.

Since being a grown up in charge of my own shopping decisions – and to the best of my financial ability – I bought organic, locally reared and I made sure every morsel was consumed: “Something died to be on your plate”!

For a few years, I kept chickens and at the height of it I had about 43, 10 of which were ex-battery and many had been hand reared from eggs from friends/farms that I knew. However, upon wise reflection I’ve realised that some of the chicks I bought from a local market, may have come into existence as a result of commercial rearing. All I can do this side of my freshly found out facts, is sigh.

Commercial rearing generally favours female chicks over male, because of their guaranteed retail value in their egg laying capabilities. Freshly born male chicks have little or no value whether they are free range or factory farmed and they are killed almost as soon as they set foot out of their tiny shells. Chick culling is a serious business and chicken sexer salaries of around £40,000 pa, sadly reflect this.

I hadn’t realised there were so many horrific ways to despatch the unwanted gender and I thank Wikipedia for saving me the pain of having to rewrite the copy that describes the methods. There are several other reliable sources for finding this information out and I encourage you to do some research. Here are a couple of articles that back these facts up to get you started from the Telegraph and the Guardian.

  • Maceration, using a large high-speed grinder into which the live chicks are fed
  • Gases or gas mixtures, often carbon dioxide is used to induce unconsciousness and then death
  • Cervical dislocation (breaking the neck)
  • Electrocution, a new method that has been touted as being cheap, reliable, and humane by its developers
  • Suffocation in plastic bags

Apparently, the maceration method ensures the chick is killed within one second if it is performed correctly. On an environmental score, it’s considered ‘more humane’ than gassing because it doesn’t require high concentrations of carbon dioxide. Gassing of course, results in the poor creatures gasping for air with their heads shaking and it can take up to two minutes for the chick to die.

I have no need to lift the lid on this topic any further but I would like to ask you, to ask yourself: does ceasing eating chicken make enough of a difference to you, or are you ready to cut egg and egg products out too?

The rules with all saleable commodities are simple: if the market for a product dries up and there’s no demand, the product has no worth and trade ends. This is a simplified statement and there would, of course, have to be some serious reskilling and/or change of business done if this were to take place. Any mathematician will tell you that chaos frequently reigns and in the context of everyone stopping eating chicken and egg products because there are some pretty bloody awful elements to the production thereof, it sadly ain’t going to happen, but it could be greatly impacted upon if people started to open their eyes, pay attention to the provenance of their food and found out the facts.

My personal upgrade from being vegetarian to going vegan, was born from a conscious standpoint and it was an entirely happy decision, although I have suffered internal remorse for it taking me so long to stop eating both the chicken and the eggs.

Deep thoughts for a sunny Sunday I know, but one last question: did you have a roast today and are you ready to do that research?