Can We Really Call Ourselves Feminists If We Eat Eggs?
Some are quick to dismiss the suffering of female members of other species – but let’s recall that human females, too, have often been dismissed as not important, not valuable, not intelligent, and not worthy of consideration. The justifications that people give for disregarding chickens’ suffering and denying their basic rights – for instance, that they are simply different from those casting judgement – are strikingly similar to the justifications that have been given for doing the same to women, all of which are false.
Chickens are inquisitive, and they can complete complex mental tasks, demonstrate self-control, worry about the future, and pass down cultural knowledge. In some respects, their cognitive abilities exceed those of cats, dogs, and even primates. Like all other animals (including humans), they love their families and value their own lives. They look out for their relatives and the other chickens in their group. They have complex social structures, well-developed communication skills, and distinct personalities, just as we do. If you’ve ever talked about a “pecking order,” “hen fest,” or “mother hen,” you were describing behaviour that we have observed in chickens.
But chickens are arguably the most abused animals on the planet.
Every four hours, an estimated 1 million sensitive, intelligent chickens are killed for food in India. The vast majority spend their entire lives in intensive confinement – from the moment they hatch until the day they’re killed. They never get to scratch in the grass, feel the warmth of the sun on their backs, or breathe fresh air. They spend day and night in a faeces- and ammonia-filled warehouse, with the bodies of many of their dead and dying friends and family members lying on the floor – or crammed inside a filthy cage so small that they can’t stretch out even one wing. Hens kept in filthy, overcrowded conditions are also susceptible to a whole host of infections, parasites, and diseases, including the quick-spreading bird flu.
But manipulating birds’ bodies to produce an unnatural number of eggs is not enough for many farm owners, who exploit them in still other ways. Because of this, the birds often suffer from cysts, infections, ovarian carcinomas, and reproductive tumours, and sometimes multiple eggs become lodged inside them. Their bones often shatter from osteoporosis because their bodies are forced to produce massive quantities of eggshells.
Farms don’t see chickens as individuals – they see them as egg machines to be used, manipulated, and pushed beyond their biological limits for money.
If treated well, a hen has a life expectancy of about 10 years. On an egg farm, her body will typically give out after just two, if that. When her egg production drops, she is considered “spent” and is thrown into a lorry full of other spent females and shipped to the slaughterhouse or meat market, where her throat is cut – typically while she’s still conscious.
PETA India encourages everyone to stand up to the systematic abuse of females of all species. Widening our circle of compassion doesn’t hurt anyone – it only serves to end the cycle of oppression and suffering that results when one group seeks to exploit another that it has deemed inferior.
You can help. Order our free vegan starter kit to get started on your vegan journey, and be sure to share it with a friend or family member, too.