A couple weeks ago, I was listening to the Diane Rehm Show while sewing shades. Her guest was Jenny Brown, and the topic of the show was, “The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals.”
While I had much to agree with the guest about, particularly her passion for seeing all animals treated humanely, I was dismayed by her insistence that there were no happy chickens who produced eggs for purchase. She insisted that either chickens were free to roam (with no one eating their eggs) or they were in incredibly cramped cages under hostile, inhumane conditions. She maintained that the only way chickens could be happy would be if humans did not eat their eggs (i.e if we were all vegans).
I’ve seen the chickens that lay our eggs. They have the run of our farmer’s orchard so they have an endless supply of insects to eat. They are never caged and live just about a perfect a life as a chicken can live. In fact, the only reason they get to live this life is because they do produce eggs and therefore, they are commercially valuable to our farmer.
We believe passionately (as does Ms. Brown) that every animal deserves to be treated humanely. However, she does a disservice to the many, many small farmers who are trying to do the right thing in raising their farm animals by insisting that they too are torturing their chickens because they collect their eggs.
She also hampers her mission by insisting that the only solution to the chicken crisis is for us all to become vegans. This is not going to happen. People are going to continue to eat eggs. It would be better and more effective for her to advocate for better conditions for chickens, for the rights of small producers to sell eggs, and for education of all egg-eaters about the eggs that they are eating.
Chickens lay eggs, regardless of whether or not anyone eats them. Ms. Brown, you may disagree philosophically with the idea of eating another animal’s offspring. But don’t try to back up that claim by saying that I am torturing chickens by choosing to eat their eggs.
You don’t know our farmer, Henry.
You don’t know his chickens.