What’s Wrong With Milk And Eggs?

What’s Wrong With Milk And Eggs?

For starters, animal products that lacto-ovo vegetarians eat (cow’s milk and eggs) have a strong relationship to DEATH because cow’s milk and chicken eggs are only produced by females. The male has no value in the production system, thus he is often killed. Baby chicks who are unlucky enough to be born male are often gassed, suffocated, or crushed. Male calves are often confined in small crates and slaughtered at a young age to become “veal.”

Next, most milk and eggs come from factory environments, which means that the females who are kept alive to produce milk or eggs suffer tremendously. The cows are often pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, confined to small spaces and fed corn or soy unnaturally, overused and abused, and lastly, they are slaughtered at a fraction of of their lifespan (around 4 years of age when they can live into their teens). The chickens are often crammed into cages or barns, and like cows they’re given hormones and antibiotics, overused and abused.

Granted, the relationship to animal suffering through lacto-ovo vegetarianism is not as direct as is the relationship between animal suffering and meat consumption, but the relationship still exists, in almost all cases. Granted, the lacto-ovo vegetarian is eating a diet that is less cruel than the meat-eater’s diet, but the diet is still unnecessarily cruel.

But more than suffering, there is a separate issue. There is the problem of treating another living being as a commodity, specifically, treating another living, sentient being who not only has a will to live, but also a will to love. There is the problem of treating animals as commodities, the problem of the property status of animals. That’s a HUGE ethical problem.

If you care about animals, you want what’s best for them. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply ask and they could simply tell? Well, in some ways we can tell what’s best for them. We can understand the basics: cow’s milk is for baby cows, not us. Swathes of unfertilized chicken’s eggs are not common, nor are they natural. Only an UNNATURAL environment, an environment without a rooster, would produce unfertilized chicken’s eggs.

And just to quell the standard farmer’s response that “cows need to be milked”: Cows don’t need to be milked any more than humans need to be milked. Mammals create milk for their babies, yes. And if their babies die or are removed/killed by a farmer, they continue to produce milk for a while, yes. And that excess milk can be painful, yes. But does that mean humans should take it and drink it? No. Cow’s milk does not belong to humans.

And just to quell the response that “eggs are nature’s bounty”: chicken’s eggs are no more a natural human food than are fingernail clippings, placentas, or cloned meat. Chickens, hens specifically, produce unfertilized eggs, yes. And if the rooster dies or is removed/ killed, the hens continue to produce eggs, yes. And those eggs remain unfertilized, yes. But does that mean humans should take them and eat them? No. Neither chickens nor their eggs belong to humans.

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14 Responses to What’s Wrong With Milk And Eggs?

  1. I think that many vegetarians choose to not eat meat because they want to avoid causing needless suffering and death. And so, I think their motivations stem from a good place. But the case could be made that animals raised for milk and eggs suffer much more than animals who are raised soley for meat.

    Cows raised for milk have their babies taken away from them right after birth, are pushed to their physical limits for 4-5 years to produce 10 times as much milk as they would normally until their bodies are so worn out that they are considered “spent” and are sent to slaughter. By comparision, cows raised for beef are often allowed to nurse their young, are not pushed to produce more milk than their bodies can handle, and are slaughtered at about 14-16 months – meaning less time to suffer compared to dairy cows.

    Similarly, egg laying hens suffer extreme confinement and have their bodies pushed to production limits for about 18 months before they are finally horrifically and painfully slaughtered – finally ending their misery. By comparison, broiler chickens are made to suffer for only 42-45 days before they are killed.

    So with “meat” animals, they suffer and are painfully killed after a rather short period of time. But for milk and eggs, the animals live longer, more miserable lives before they too are painfully killed.

    Certainly a vegetarian diet is less cruel than a standard omni’s diet of meat, milk and eggs, but it might not be less cruel than someone who chooses to eat meat but not milk or eggs. Is there a word for such a thing?

    I advocate veganism as the minimum for people who wish to live cruelty-free. For people who feel they need to transition to a vegan lifestyle, I try to encourage them to give up milk and eggs first and meat later because milk and eggs cause so much more suffering before the animals are ultimately killed.

  2. I agree with Matt. I was going to say exactly the same thing and then I saw that Matt beat me to it.

    I actually agree that if people can’t give up everything, it makes more sense to give up dairy and eggs and continue eating meat.

    Dairy cows and laying hens are killed, too. I don’t understand why vegetarians think they get a free pass in the death department by not eating meat and then eating milk and eggs. It’s ludicrous.

    ~ Recent blog post: No ‘poo (and soap, and deodorant) update ~

  3. I agree with you that in the context of today’s factory farming, dairy cows and egg-laying hens suffer just as much or more than animals raised purely for meat. However, the suffering-based rationale for veganism is slightly more confusing and difficult to explain than the suffering-based rational for vegetarianism.

    That is, children understand the vegetarian argument VERY easily. They don’t understand the vegan argument as easily. Children are not a measure of whether the argument is good or not, but they are a good measure of how persuasive the argument is to the general population. (They say you should write at a sixth grade level if you want to be understood by the average person. And this is why videos of animal suffering are more persuasive than written words.)

    I think for most people who care about animals, the idea of eating dead animal flesh is incongruous with their concern for animals. Advocating a dairy-free and egg-free diet that still includes animal flesh just feels wrong.

    On an intellectual and emotional level, the relationship between meat-eating and suffering is so much stronger than the relationship between dairy or eggs and suffering. It doesn’t require any special knowledge or experience to understand vegetarianism. Animal rights, in the most basic sense of right to life, are self-evident.

    Even veganism is easy to understand on a purely intellectual or emotional level. But dairy-free, egg-free meat-eating is more complicated.

    If someone had suggested that I continue eating animal flesh but not dairy or eggs, I would have ignored them and thought they were crazy. It was simple: I care about animals so I don’t eat them. Later, that became: I care about animals so I don’t use them.

  4. Also, I want to add that as a feminist, I find it interesting that when the dairy and egg industry crimes against animals are talked about, the focus is on the MALE chicks and MALE calves. Yes, it’s atrocious. Yes, it’s a cruel waste of life, but male chicks are killed within a day or two of being hatched. And male calves are either killed in a few days or a few weeks for veal. But dairy cows suffer for a few YEARS. The females are repeatedly raped and their maternal bond is disrespected. That, to me, is what needs to be focused on. If our sexist society doesn’t care how female animals suffer, that is too bad, but we shouldn’t appease them by focusing on the relatively swift death of the males. Oh, the poor male chicks who are alive for mere hours. What about the laying hens who have chicken sh-t fall on their heads from above? What if it gets in their eyes? All that ammonia stench burning their lungs? They can’t even lift a wing. Just the thought of being trapped and not able to move makes me go nuts, and that’s just thinking about it. That’s not even happening to me. Not to mention their beaks getting cut off. That is evil. Oh, but the poor cute little male chicks. Meh.

    I’m not trying to take you to task, Elaine. I read this sh-t all the time. It’s common to focus on the plight of the male animals to get people to sympathize. I personally think the plight of the female animals is enough to elicit sympathy.

    ~ Recent blog post: No ‘poo (and soap, and deodorant) update ~

  5. Good point. It is easier to understand the connection between eating an animal and the death of that animal. Especially for children. I can see that.

    ~ Recent blog post: No ‘poo (and soap, and deodorant) update ~

  6. I agree with you veganprimate, but I feel like these discussions put veganism into the narrow piggeonhole of contextual eating choices like fair trade or organic. Though extremely important and worthwhile, “fair trade” is simply a sort of boycott against items not labeled “fair trade.” It’s not a philosophy.

    Veganism, in my mind, is a philosophy based on the concept that it’s unethical to use animals as mere objects, as slaves, as commodities. That extends well beyond factory farming and the atrocities therein. Veganism, in my mind, isn’t simply a boycott of nonvegan items; it’s a way of living that respects animals.

    Moreover, I think there is good reason to focus on the death of males versus the suffering of females: death is easier to understand than torture. For example, even those who disagree understand the anti-death penalty arguments. There isn’t any confusion over the principle issue: death. But when it comes to torture, there’s a ton of debate and confusion. What is and what isn’t torture becomes a matter of debate. But when you speak of death, there’s no question.

    Again, my reasoning is simply that we ought to appeal to as many humans as possible in as simple terms as possible, just like above where I defended promoting vegetarianism over promoting egg-free, dairy-free meat-eating. But of course, do your own thing and promote veganism however you see fit :)

  7. Primate, Sorry I didn’t fully acknowledge your point earlier. You are 100% right that the focus is on the males and that’s not fair or good. And you’re right that recognizing how much the females suffer is not only important in abolishing sexism and speciesism, it also helps feminists understand veganism better and vegans understand feminism better. Thanks for making that point :)

  8. I do not eat eggs or any dairy product, I occasionaly eats lean meats fish and chicken. But when I do it is very small amounts and I will go for the organic free range product, not the over filled mass produced farms. The idea of more people understanding the cruelity behind the eggs and dairy they consume and helping them re think the way the society treats all animals is a good thing. Incouraging people to start off by cutting out either meat or the eggs andf dairy is a good thing. But which one should be first does not matter. Over all the more we as a society protect the animals and the earth the better it will be for all of us. Does anyone know what to call my eating style? No eggs or dairy, but the very occasional meat? I was told “flexitarian” But looking for a nicer term :)

  9. Alesha – you’re a VIP
    see this: http://www.vegansoapbox.com/are-you-a-v-i-p/

  10. I stumbled upon this site when looking for pictures to advertise my eggs. Yes, most, but not all eggs in the store are from caged birds, but mine are raised behind our house out in the country. Don’t overstate or misrepresent your case. Mucho eggs are produced by folks with smaller acreage. The big killer of the birds are dogs, coons, coyotes, and possums. Villify them, not humans who also eat meat.

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