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To ask if eggs can ever be vegan

(262 Posts)
GloryforGloves Thu 10-Jan-19 19:09:02

Before I discuss, let me share the definition of veganism from the Vegan Society website:

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

So, I understand fully that the egg industry is rubbish. Hens are confined, even if the box says free range; male chicks born as potential breeders are culled; old chickens are slaughtered. As a meat eater who buys into this, I get it’s shit. So I was wondering about alternatives.

Based on the definition above, I think it could be considered vegan to eat eggs from a rescue chicken who was keep in a happy, free range environment - a large back garden with a suitable setup. You are not breeding the animal for a specific purpose and I wouldn’t consider that exploitation as the chicken would lay regardless - in fact you are saving an animal that would have otherwise be slaughtered.
Instead you provide the chicken a comfortable, safe place to live and you enjoy it’s waste product.

I know some (most?) vegans say no animal product at all - but I think there has to be a reason for that stance - if it’s for ethics, then is this unethical?

What are your thoughts? Could rescued, well loved chicken eggs be considered vegan?

GloryforGloves Thu 10-Jan-19 19:25:00

I am genuinely interested. Especially from a vegan point of view as I’ve wondered this for a while.

SayNoToCarrots Thu 10-Jan-19 19:25:48


Pachyderm1 Thu 10-Jan-19 19:26:36

Veganism is itself a very specific thing that requires the exclusion of animal products, so on that basis eggs could never be vegan.

That said, I think you’re right that there are ethical ways to eat eggs. I’m not a vegan (although I don’t eat any meat and exclude most animal products from my diet) but the only eggs I eat are from my mum’s chickens, who are all rescue battery hens and have free range of her garden. I don’t feel at all guilty about eating these eggs.

Some people call themselves ovo-vegans and exclude all animal products except eggs. There are also people who eat a vegan diet save for oysters on the basis that farming oysters is good for the sea, and they don’t have a central nervous system so they can’t feel pain or fear.

So the short answer is no, eggs aren’t vegan. But there are ways to eat eggs which minimise exploration and harm to a negligible level, and lots of people feel comfortable with that compromise.

ItsQuietTime Thu 10-Jan-19 19:27:32

Eggs laid by Gregg's Vegan Sausages are Vegan. grin

Nquartz Thu 10-Jan-19 19:28:00

I assume not because although the garden chicken in your example has a nice life ultimately no animal should be in captivity of any kind.

Disclaimer - not a vegan but know a couple of vegetarians.

ApatheticPathetic Thu 10-Jan-19 19:29:49

If a chicken lays and egg (which is physically tiring on their bodies) and the egg is removed - then they go to the effort of making another. If it's not taking the chicken will usually eat that egg and replenish calcium and wait an extended period before laying again. So it's still exploitative in that sense

Tessliketrees Thu 10-Jan-19 19:30:18

What are your thoughts? Could rescued, well loved chicken eggs be considered vegan?

I would but only in that specific circumstance. It's impossible to cut out all animal products without going to ridiculous extremes.

Greensleeves Thu 10-Jan-19 19:33:57

Apathetic I don't think that's always true. Whe we had free range chickens (we're between chickens at the moment, as we need to do some work on securing one end of the garden against foxes) they would frequently stockpile their own eggs and not eat them. We regularly found stashes of eggs - we once found 14 eggs clustered together in the compost heap. We had two chickens at the time and they both laid every day. So either we ate the eggs, or they went rotten.

Missingstreetlife Thu 10-Jan-19 19:34:09

Only if laid by a carrot. Don't be ridiculous. An egg is not a waste product (but do vegan gardeners use manure?) in natural world it would be fertilised and grow into a chicken
You may get an egg substitute made of tofu or something, but an egg is an animal product. Many vegans don't believe in keeping pets, and wouldn't even eat a foraged wild duck egg.

ThatssomebadhatHarry Thu 10-Jan-19 19:38:08

An egg is essentially a period.

JuniperSling Thu 10-Jan-19 19:38:46

If you ate eggs you would be an ovo vegetarian, not a vegan.

ASundayWellSpent Thu 10-Jan-19 19:43:27

Nope I’m afraid. For at least two reasons I can think of:
1. It’s still speciesism (spelling?! Sorry not English first language), whereby we feel in the right to take things from animals for our own use or benefit. We still take the egg and in that way the chicken is exploited.
2. Chickens are originally meant to give just around 10-14 eggs a year (similar to human women!) but have been exploited into laying almost every day! This is exhausting for their bodies and a laying hen will die on average after two years of laying. If you want your garden chicken to have a happy life then it needs to have a chicken implant (true thing) which will end it’s laying and allow it to live a long and happy life.

So no, sorry. Eggs can’t ever be part of a vegan diet

sweetkitty Thu 10-Jan-19 19:46:02


Hens have been genetically manipulated to produce many more eggs than they would in the wild. This causes their bodies to burn out. It’s cruel and goes against everything Veganism is about.

SayNoToCarrots Thu 10-Jan-19 19:46:32

Chickens eat eggs? Mind blown.

LunaLunitaLunera Thu 10-Jan-19 19:51:28

Male chicks are thrown alive into blenders (here in uk). They are surplus unfortunately.
Hens are slaughtered at just 72 weeks, as their egg supply depletes they are replaced. This is the same for free range and barned hens.

Even most free range hens are predominantly in barns. They have access to a outdoor space but will be too frightened to cross into another hens territory.

It is the meat industry that uses words to make us think we are making ethical choices and making life better for the animals. Not possible I'm afraid.

ewenice Thu 10-Jan-19 19:51:31

I have rescue ex-battery chickens and they can actually live to be 4 or 5 years old - longer than if they lived in the wild where they would be eaten by predators. They are free range over 3 acres and come in at night to roost when I lock them up to keep them safe. Like a PP mine will lay outside their nest boxes (found 10 in the muck heap last week) and don't eat their own eggs. Chickens will eat their eggs but usually when they are unable to get necessary nutrition for other sources.

Whocansay Thu 10-Jan-19 19:52:12

Surely by extension, any animal dead from natural causes would be a 'waste product' and therefore fair game to eat?

If you want to eat eggs, eat them. Just don't call yourself 'Vegan' because you think it sounds better than 'Vegetarian'. That makes you pretentious.

GloryforGloves Thu 10-Jan-19 19:52:51


Something I wanted to ask about speciesism - if it’s literally a waste product (an unfertilised egg is a waste product much as a human period is) and the animal is not using it, what’s the ethical reason for avoiding? How do vegans feel about using manure for crops (to feed humans and animals)?

Nacreous Thu 10-Jan-19 19:53:35

The information about what laying does to hens isn't true. My parents keep hens: a mixture of rescue and purchased at point of lay. Their hens live an average of about 7 years, some living as long as 9. If left to their own devices, we've found nests with up to 20+ eggs in, uneaten. The hens are entirely unpenned, so they are not kept in captivity: they choose to remain living there because it's nicer than living elsewhere. We've had the odd one that's left (and presumably then been eaten by a fox). They are shut up at night to avoid them being eaten, as we have a duty of care towards them once they live with us, but are entirely free range every day. They absolutely love humans, and will come and sit on your lap if they can if you're outside.

Obviously this doesn't remove the cruelty of the egg industry as a whole, and but I think it can remove significant moral concerns about egg eating.

GloryforGloves Thu 10-Jan-19 19:53:55

Just don't call yourself 'Vegan' because you think it sounds better than 'Vegetarian'. That makes you pretentious.

I’m a meat eater. It’s just a question.

thecatneuterer Thu 10-Jan-19 19:53:59

I'm vegan and I agree with you OP. I'm vegan because I want no harm to be caused to animals for my benefit. I actually will eat eggs from people who have rescue hens, for the reason you describe. Maybe by a strict definition that makes me no longer vegan, but by my own morals I still am, and that's what is important to me. Labels aren't important to me, it's the consequences of my actions that count.

SirGawain Thu 10-Jan-19 19:54:27

Self-evidently not.

bellinisurge Thu 10-Jan-19 19:56:36

No. If honey isn't vegan then eggs certainly aren't.

Magpiefeather Thu 10-Jan-19 19:57:53

I know a vegan who eats eggs from her mums (properly) free range ducks and hens.

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