“The HSUS and The UEP reached an historic agreement whereby both organizations will support—and work together toward enactment of—federal legislation to afford certain protections to all U.S. egg laying hens. If passed, the federal legislation would:
- Eliminate new construction of barren battery cages, and replace the existing cages, through a phase-in, with new “enriched colony cage” housing systems that provide each hen nearly double the amount of space they’re currently allotted.
- Require that these new cages provide environmental enrichments that will allow hens to engage in important natural behaviors, such as perches, nesting boxes, and scratching areas.
- Mandate labeling on all egg cartons to inform consumers of the method used to produce the eggs, such as “eggs from caged hens,” “eggs from cage-free hens” or “eggs from free-range hens.”
- Prohibit forced molting through starvation, which involves withholding all food from birds for up to two weeks in order to manipulate the laying cycle.
- Mandate euthanasia standards for spent hens.
- Prohibit excessive ammonia levels in henhouses.
- Prohibit the sale of eggs and egg products nationwide that don’t meet these requirements.”
Clearly, this is significant change that will improve the lives of many egg-laying hens. The new labels alone are an improvement because it gives consumers more accurate information and it allows them to make better-informed choices. As HSUS says:
“This law, if enacted, would represent the first time that any species of animal is provided with federal protection from abuse while on factory farms, the first federal farm animal protection law in more than 30 years, and the first time that chickens used in food production are provided any federal protections at all.”
I will support the law and encourage others to support it. However, there are still plenty of good reasons to abstain from eating eggs:
- The new system is being “phased in” which means that currently, eggs are still coming from battery cages. We don’t know how long this phase-in will take or if it will even actually happen so if you care about animal welfare but you want to eat eggs, then it’s important to boycott all commercial eggs until the new system is in place.
- These improvements are far from ideal. The ideal farm that most nonvegans imagine doesn’t keep hens inside cages at all!
- The proposed laws don’t address many other issues related to egg-production animal cruelty
- Eggs are still full of cholesterol.
- The risk of salmonella will decrease when the improvements in hen welfare take place, but eggs will likely continue to present a high risk of salmonella poisoning to consumers.
- Lastly, eggs are not vegan. If you wouldn’t climb up and steal eggs from a robin’s nest or a crow, then why take them from chickens?
Here are some resources for how to ditch eggs from your diet: