PAWS Magazine

 

Issue 48, Winter 2001

 

From the Heart

About 12 years ago, because of my love for animals, I started down a path towards eliminating them from my diet. Like many people, I started with “red meats”. Shortly after that, chicken was the next “meat” to go. I began to feel empowered by my choices and their immediate impact on the lives of animals. I continued to educate myself and soon found it impossible to continue drinking milk or eating cheese and ice cream. Finally, eggs were added to the list. But what I know now has led me to conclude that in terms of the numbers of animals suffering, I might have given up eggs first.

Jennifer Hillman

The factory farm system of egg production is tragic. In order to maximize profits, the quarter billion egg-laying hens in our country are kept in extremely inhumane conditions. These hens are stuffed into a small wire cages, typically the size of a file drawer, where they are kept with up to six other birds for their entire lives. Because the battery cage is so small, the hen is deprived of all of her natural behavioral needs. She is unable to exercise or to fly, to stretch her wings, to scratch and peck at the earth, to dust bathe or to build a nest in which she can lay her eggs free from stress and in comfort. When the hen is deprived of her nesting instinct, she will attempt to escape for hours before having to lay her egg while standing on the thin wire floor of her cage. To increase her overall production of eggs, she is periodically starved for up to 14 days in a process called “forced molting.” After about two years, when her laying life is finished, she is sent to slaughter where her badly damaged body cannot be packaged whole for the consumer to view, but can only be ground for foods like soup or pot pies.

As an advocate for farm animals, I am continually encouraged by the conscious connections that people are making between gentle feeling animals and the food products of the modern grocery store. I believe that this awareness is creating new vegetarians every day. When PAWS took on the campaign to educate people about the egg industry, I took on the job of bringing that awareness and compassion a little farther down the road to the heartbreaking reality of the egg. I’ve talked to friends, family, co-workers, legislators, media and the public about egg production and I’ve seen awareness begin to take hold. I believe that awareness is what gives us the power to speak up for animals and to make choices that reflect our compassion for them. The next time you consider buying food made with eggs, think compassionately. Think about the hens.

Jennifer Hillman
Senior PAWS Advocate

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