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Raising hens - vegan?

Discussion in 'Food' started by bgm, Nov 9, 2018.

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  1. bgm

    bgm New Member

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    Hi all, my name is Ben. I've been veg for most of my life, and I was vegan for nearly 20 years. Now I eat locally produced dairy products and eggs. I grew up in a rural area, and we always had a chicken coupe. Our hens were our pets, and they happened to lay some very delicious eggs. My siblings and I collected the eggs every morning, cleaned the poop off, and had breakfast.

    We lived on about an acre, and our hens wandered the yard. Strangely enough they always enjoyed the coupe and spent most of their time there.

    Here is my question: what is the harm in having hens as pets? What is wrong with eating eggs when you know exactly where they came from? Is it best to throw eggs in the compost heap or eat them?

    I vehemently despise factory farming... and I will never eat anything from a farm that I don't know. This is exactly the reason I became vegan in the first place.

    I'm interested in hearing opinions. Based on my circumstances, what are you thoughts? Very interested in hearing from other people who have raised hens and understand their behavior.

    Best,

    Ben
     
  2. VIctoria F

    VIctoria F New Member

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    I'm not a hen expert, so I'm afraid can't help with proper advice.
    But it's something I've wondered too. If you can keep your own hens, and make sure they're healthy and not overproducing, surely it does less harm to get your nutrition from something with zero food miles and packaging?
     
  3. Nekodaiden

    Nekodaiden Active Member Banned

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    I think your question should be - eating eggs, Vegan? To which the answer is no. This is one of those situations where if the hen has abandoned the egg, doesn't eat it herself (which I understand they sometimes do), then sure, there's no harm to the animal by consuming it.

    But it isn't Vegan because Vegan doesn't mean "it's ethical, therefore you may...", it means no animal products in the diet. A bird that falls from it's nest or smashes into a building and dies as a result may be edible from a purely ethical point of view, but ethical or no, it is not part of Veganism, as Veganism was defined as a diet not a religion or course on ethics.
     
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  4. Emma JC
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    Emma JC Active Member

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    The other reason is that eggs are not healthy.... despite the marketing done to promote them as such.

    Here is a link to Dr Greger's Nutrition Facts website and all the great videos he has done on eggs.
    Click Here.

    Emma JC
     
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  5. Lou
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    Lou Active Member

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    this question comes up a lot.

    Raising hens - Vegan?
    Short answer: No.

    However, you asked a bunch of other questions and I think they merit a longer answer. Even a discussion.
    Also, I will tell you right up front that I like this kind of discussion. Many vegans think that this kind of discussion is a distraction. In fact, I used to think so too. Now I think that veganism is not a belief system, but that its a set of values. and it IS a good idea to explore ideas, have discussions, and debates. Veganism is about ethics. the whole field of ethics would be nowhere without discussions and thought experiments.

    You didn't ask about eggs being healthy, but Emma has already brought it up. And I do feel that it should be part of the discussion. The egg companies have done an excellent job of clouding the whole "are eggs good for you" debate. I don't want to get bogged down in that aspect. Let's just say that there is nothing essential or necessary in eggs for human health. We don't need to eat them.

    Backyard chickens are very far from factory farmed chickens. And many vegans have wondered about this. you included a bunch of conditions and exceptions to your question. Those conditions and exceptions make it a much more difficult answer. I will get to that in just a minute but before I do....

    If you look into the typical backyard chicken coupe all you will see is hens. Suburban areas that allow for backyard chickens usually have laws against roosters. Or people don't like having roosters. Or even if there is a rooster there aren't very many. People who raise hens for breeding even limit the roosters. Too many roosters - and you have fights. But keep in mind that in nature for every hen born is a rooster. 1:1. Half and Half. So you have to ask the question, where are all the boys? In most situations, the answer is: they were destroyed.

    In the wild, chickens (Gallus, gallus) don't lay chickens all year long. They have clutches. A few eggs per clutch. A few cluthes a year. Maybe at the most, 20 eggs a year. laying chickens has been selectively bred to lay way more eggs than that. Chickens will stop laying eggs when they have eggs or babies to take care of. by removing eggs they will be triggered to lay more eggs. Backyard chickens will lay hundreds of eggs a year. This is a huge drain on the metabolism and they will die much sooner than they would in the wild.

    Now, the other side of the argument can get pretty interesting. What if the chickens were rescued, or inherited? That can pretty much nullify the "where are the boys" issue. But taking the eggs away still triggers egg laying. Leave the eggs in place and the eggs will hatch or the chicken will eat them. You don't throw the eggs away. You don't eat them. You leave them alone.

    I'm pretty much for people making up their own minds about what is ethical or not. but I also believe they must have all the facts and then give it some thought. If you have a chicken sanctuary than its ok to have chickens in your backyard. But its still not vegan to eat their eggs. But if you believe its ok ethically, well, that is your decision.

    A YouTube Vegan has a great article and video on this subject. If you read them you will see that I echo some of her stuff. But this stuff has been knocking around the vegan community for years.

    http://www.bitesizevegan.org/vegan-health/can-vegans-eat-eggs-from-backyard-chickens-veggans/
     
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  6. Emma JC
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    Emma JC Active Member

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    amazing detailed and thoughtful answer, Lou! thank you

    Emma JC
     
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  7. Lou
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    Lou Active Member

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    :)
     
  8. Nekodaiden

    Nekodaiden Active Member Banned

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    The OP actually only asked one pertinent question, although it came out into 3:

    “Here is my question: what is the harm in having hens as pets? What is wrong with eating eggs when you know exactly where they came from? Is it best to throw eggs in the compost heap or eat them? “

    I think it is clear that the main questions being asked are :

    “What is the harm in having hens for pets when I primarily keep them for their eggs to eat” and “Isn’t it just wasteful to throw them out instead of eat them?”

    To me this matter is extremely clear.

    Abandoned eggs, roadkill, birds that fall from nests and die, birds that smack into buildings and die, a cat or a dog that dies of natural causes – or any other animal for that matter

    ...are all ethical to eat.

    But it is not Vegan to eat them.

    If you are confused about this, it’s probably because someone has told you or explained to you that Veganism is the same as being Ethical. Or having values. If that were true, then Vegans wouldn’t lie, cheat, manipulate, steal, misrepresent themselves, etc. The people equating Veganism with Ethics are (knowingly or unknowingly) trying to erode the definition of Veganism by alluding to the ethical results of being Vegan (abstinence from all animal products in the diet, with encouragement to abstain from things like clothing made from animals) – and confusing this with Ethics in General - as if they are the same thing. They really are not.


    In any case – here is the problem. You eat the abandoned eggs, you're ethical, but it’s not Vegan. So who cares about being Vegan when you are being ethical and moral, right? The fact is – when you allow any animal products into your diet, you will begin to develop bacteria that both feeds on them, and starts to crave them. So what happens when your hen’s don’t lay enough eggs and you want some eggs? Do you deny yourself? Go to the store and by factory bought? Satisfy yourself that “cage free” was at least “not as bad” ?(it is, basically)


    So, in such a scenario, you knew all along that it was likely ethical to eat abandoned eggs from truly free range chickens (not ones you have caged “as pets” just to keep their eggs), but not Vegan, but if for some reasons your chickens aren’t producing the eggs to feed your habit – you’re Ethical decision now leads to another one – will you buy whatever eggs are available no matter how raised if you are craving them?


    Vegans don’t have this dilemma. The cravings aren’t there, since they rightly understood that Veganism means conscious abstinence in practice, the extended results of this, combined with enough whole food for the microbiome that feeds on fiber and resistant starch - being lack of cravings for animal products as well as the ethical implications from doing this!
     
  9. Jenjen

    Jenjen Member

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    I do see the point of view that if the hen is ethically kept as a pet then why not? I don't believe that anyone who is truly for the animals will give into 'cravings'. Also, I know the term 'vegan' is no to animal products full stop but also why do people get so hung up on labels? If this is the only animal by product you consume I don't think you should be looked down on.
     
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  10. veganDreama

    veganDreama Active Member

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    It's ok to have chickens as pets but eating eggs isn't vegan. You don't have to throw the eggs away. Just give them to someone who isn't a vegan which means they won't get so many eggs from worse sources such as factory farming.
     
  11. Forest Nymph
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    Forest Nymph Active Member

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    Not vegan but I would strongly suggest this is the most ethical way to be a vegetarian - like I would call you an "ethical vegetarian" or "strict vegetarian" to identify someone such as yourself. In fact, while some may argue from an animal rights standpoint you should not use animal products at all, no matter how local nor how loved the hens are, I will tell you from a scientific standpoint that what you are doing is considered more environmentally sustainable than some forms of veganism.

    Veganism is only the "ultimate" in sustainability when the foods are mostly whole and largely local ....while ANY form of veganism is better than eating meat, and is certainly better than any factory farmed milk or eggs...local dairy actually trumps "vegan products" for the number one spot. It's not a competition though, if someone is vegan they're still more sustainable than most people, and I would also argue that lots of "loca-vore vegetarians" actually still eat things like Tofurky or Gardein products, vegans aren't the only ones buying "products" ...it's just bad to live off of them three meals a day for both health and environment, though it's good for building a veggie economy.
     
  12. Lou
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    Lou Active Member

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    Even if your hens are pets, you should not be eating their eggs. Just leave them alone. Hens will lay fewer eggs, be healthier, and live longer if you just leave the eggs alone. Chickens who are taking care of their eggs or chicks stop laying eggs. Just like mammals who don't become pregnant when nursing.

    If you harvest the eggs you are exploiting the hens. You are no longer taking care of them because you are a good guy. Instead, you are "charging them for their upkeep". And the price they are paying is their children.

    Can you imagine having this conversation about puppies?

    Hi all, my name is Ben. I grew up in a rural area, and we always had dogs in our yard. Our dogs were our pets, and they happened to give birth to some very delicious puppies. My siblings and I slaughtered the puppies every three or four months. Deep fried dog was our favorite. but we also enjoyed dog stew and roast dog.


    "At Farm Sanctuary, shelter staff collect eggs daily, hard boil them, smash them up (shells and all), and feed them back to the hens to help restore lost nutrients, especially the calcium, which is in the shells. Lack of calcium leads to broken bones, osteoporosis and formation of shell-less eggs (which can be fatal) so it is essential for the health of the birds, especially those rescued from factory farms, to consume the eggs. And, as Susie points out, “It sounds odd to a lot of people, but it is actually not far removed from their natural behavior, as wild chickens will eat broken eggs so they don’t attract predators. Chickens will also naturally eat their own eggs if they are calcium deficient.”

    - https://farmsanctuary.typepad.com/making_hay/2009/07/what-about-eggs.html
     
  13. Nekodaiden

    Nekodaiden Active Member Banned

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    Strict Vegetarian is the same as Vegan from the dietary perspective of exclusion. The adjective "strict" is applied to a diet of only foods from the Vegetable Kingdom. Obviously that doesn't include animal secretions like eggs and milk or fish. It is sometimes used to distinguish from particular Vegans with a slant towards animal rights.

    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/strict_vegetarian


    Noun
    strict vegetarian (plural strict vegetarians)

    1. A person who excludes all animal products from their diet, including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. quotations ▼
    Adjective
    strict vegetarian (not comparable)

    1. Of a diet: excluding all animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey.
    Usage notes
    Sometimes distinguished from vegan on grounds of motivation, veganism typically being inspired by support for animal rights.

    The animal rights focus of Veganism didn't start with Donald Watson. He encouraged finding alternatives to non-food animal products but diet was the emphasis and it wasn't until he was booted by Leslie Cross that the organization took on a distinctly animal rights focus (and also a decline in membership).
     

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