It’s not easy being an omnivore

Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.
~Albert Schweitzer

Maybe it would be if I didn’t crave protein so much or if I could stomach beans. I fucking hate beans. Yeck.

A friend of mine and I were talking about one of those “Go Vegan” videos you see every now and then. You know the type…graphic images of animal abuse at the hands of slaughterhouse workers or videos about the cruel confinement methods used by stockyards. I can’t deny that there are some bad practices out there, but I’d also have to point out that when I was in high school I raised show pigs for the FFA. A lot of animals that were sold at the end of the year ended up being finished out and sold to slaughterhouses. Some of the meat you buy in the store may very well have come from an animal that was loved and kept and meticulously groomed before they met their death.

But the video my friend saw had one thing that disturbed him greatly. It was an image of little chicks going down a conveyor belt and into a grinder. The voiceover said that the male chicks were picked out and killed by the egg industry, which had no use for them. He asked me if that was true. I said I didn’t know of any methods that could efficiently sex a chick when it was still at the cute-and-fuzzy stage. Well, my friend did some research, and it turns out that I was wrong. And yes, factory farms kill the chicks they do not intend on rearing. Wikipedia doesn’t say how many, or what percentage of male chicks get killed, but it’s still something that bothers me.

I, personally, find it unethical to needlessly kill chicks simply because they are male. No, I don’t have any idea what the egg industry should do with the chicks aside from kill them. And I’m fully aware that their remains probably get made into pet food, which would justify their deaths if it wasn’t an afterthought of “look, we can make some money back on these little buggers.” Battery cages are another thing to consider, as is the fact that this may not be standard operating procedure for all hen production facilities.

Thus I’ve decided to quit buying commercial eggs. I buy eggs infrequently enough that buying fresh eggs at the farmer’s market (for three times the price) is within my budget. Yard eggs taste better, I get to meet the people who own the chickens, and all of the money goes back to the local community. My friend is considering getting his own laying hens and is looking into alternative sources for meat.

We have a local farm that sells their own grass-fed free-range beef. They even allow tours of the farm. But at $5.50 a pound for ground beef, their prices are out of my reach. So I have to do what I can with my limited resources. Eggs I can do, beef I can’t. Maybe someday.

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5 Responses to “It’s not easy being an omnivore”

  1. There is a similar issue with milk. Male animals are of no value in dairy herds so they are killed in the first few days of their life and scrapped or they are sold on to be raised as veal.

    I’m not trying to convince you to give up dairy (the reason I originally gave it up is because it causes my body to crap out), but I do feel that there has to be another option something other than killing a baby just because it was born the wrong sex. My choice is to not support these industries until there are saner options, but that may be wishful thinking.

    (Just an FYI, I am technically a vegetarian but I would eat meat if I could raise the animal and slaughter it myself, or go out hunting. I don’t care about other people’s dietary choices as long as they know what they are eating and why)

    /ramble

    • Thankfully, I only buy milk or cheese when it’s necessary to cook with, and that’s not very often. Yogurt, on the other hand. D: I love yogurt.

  2. This is a big reason why I have opted out of the commercial meat system for my own purchases. Yes, the meat I buy now costs more, but the animals are treated better and it’s all much more nutritious. Not only that, the prices for the supermarket junk are kept artificially low.

  3. David Bridgewater Says:

    If you keep hens for their eggs, you will have bought your chicks from a hatchery -maybe locally raised or from a local farm supply outlet or direct by mail. What do you think happens to the unwanted male chicks? Thats right, they are killed! Also, When the laying hens are no longer producing enough then they too are culled(a weasel word meaning killed).

    • Actually, when we bought our own laying chickens years ago, we bought a mixed batch, so we had roosters and hens. We kept two of the roosters and gave the other two away.

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