Consumers are taught by modern-day egg industries that their companies are “family owned,” “farm fresh” and “free-range.” These terms make it seems as if egg-laying hens are treated with respect for what they provide. Companies such as Rose Acre Farms and Hillandale Farms paint pictures that entail rollings hills, open land, sunshine and most importantly, the humane treatment of animals.
Unfortunately, this is not the reality for the over 300 million birds that suffer on factory farms each year. Immediately after birth, chicks and their mothers are separated and the male chicks, who are not useful to the egg industry, are then thrown into grinders or even suffocated in large trash bags while fully conscious. The females then spend their lives in tiny cages without any space to roam or move. After enduring this gruesome lifestyle for approximately two years, these birds are then sent to the slaughterhouse to become meat.
While this kind of mass production of food is terrible, it has become easier to ignore. After all, eggs are products the typical American consumer has been used to purchasing due to its many uses, including baking, scrambling, boiling, frying and even decorating. An “All-American” breakfast served at a diner would most likely consist of eggs, along with with sausage links and pancakes. Although many believe that this “All-American” breakfast is off limits to vegan diners, changing food science and technologies are broadening the horizons of many vegans.
In fact, a little over a year ago, an egg substitution product called VeganEgg became available for purchase online and at certain grocery stores. Since the production of one regular egg uses 52 gallons of water, the creation of alternate plant-based eggs could discontinue the horrors of egg production, as well as benefit the environment. Products such as the VeganEgg are tremendous advancements for veganism and cruelty-free diets because it means people who dislike the idea of giving up meat, cheese or eggs don’t actually have to give up anything.
Veganism is often mistaken as a strict lifestyle decision that is nearly impossible for many. It may seem as if the specific rules of what you can and can’t eat are endless, but veganism is not about restriction. Veganism is about creation, opening possibilities and innovation.
VeganEgg and other products are reducing animal cruelty. Being a vegan is not about limits. Being a vegan is about awareness and recognizing that factory farming causes unnecessary suffering which should be stood against. With this recognition and change comes community and activism.
Montclair State University has recently been incorporating more cruelty-free options at Freeman Dining Hall and Sam’s Place, due to both student interest and attempts to innovate food selections. For example, there is always a vegan soup and a veggie burger offered, just as there are always hamburgers. Additionally, as of Nov. 7, Meatless Mondays have been officially implemented in both dining halls, serving delicious versatile meat-free entrees.
It is not realistic to ask people to go vegan overnight, or at all for that matter, but simply cutting meat out of one’s diet once or twice a week or trying a vegan product is a positive step that leads to a more sustainable and compassionate food industry.