Free range eggs are ok, right?

The term ‘vegan’ was coined back in 1944 and isn’t the ‘shades of grey’ that vegetarianism seems to have become. Simply put, by definition, vegans do not use or consume any animal products whatsoever.

So if you want to blindly follow the rules set out by some guy a whole load of years ago, then avoid eggs.

But the fact that you’re here tells me that you like to be a bit more thoughtful than that, so I’ll tell you the real reason that I avoid eggs – then you can make up your own mind.

Presumably by buying free range as opposed to eggs from battery hens, you feel that you are doing your bit for the birds, that it’s a cruelty free option. For a great many years I presumed the same thing. Unfortunately that’s not the case.

Like me, you probably have an image of hens happily scratching about on a farm, while a jolly farmer’s wife goes around collecting the eggs in her apron. Does that sound like a profit making business to you? The truth is that even ‘free range’ hens are kept at a density of up to 9 birds a square metre (battery hens are kept at  a density of about 12 per square metre – not much difference is there?).*

The lack of space, leads to feather pecking. Farmers solve this by ‘debeaking’ the birds – searing off the end of the bird’s beak in a painful act of mutilation. The stress of their living conditions means that hens are more or less spent after a year of laying so their tragic lives are cut short by a trip to the slaughterhouse.

The aspect of the egg industry that I find the most disturbing, and of which I had no idea until I dug a bit deeper, is the slaughter of day old male chicks. Of course they are no use for egg laying and are not acceptable for meat either so they are killed when only a day or two old, gassed or thrown into a giant grinding machine that shreds them alive. Can you imagine the pain and the fear that they experience in their short lives?

So that, in a nutshell is the truth behind your ‘cruelty free’ eggs. I’m not going to tell anyone how to live their lives, but I for one, do not want to be a part of that cycle of suffering.

Happily humans can live perfectly well without eggs. I don’t really miss omelettes or scrambled eggs but I did question how I would live without cake! Luckily there are many options for replacing eggs in the baking process. Commercial egg replacers are available (though I’ve never tried them myself), or you can use mashed ripe bananas, ground flaxseeds mixed with water or apple sauce in your baking. If you are looking for something more savoury you can try scrambled tofu – scramble it with a mix of herbs or spices and some fried spring onions. Yum!

If you can think of a dish that traditionally requires eggs, let me know in the comments and I will try to find an alternative recipe for you.

*Credit to the Vegan Society’s ‘Animal Free Shopper’ for the statistics.

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7 responses to “Free range eggs are ok, right?

  1. Oh dear, I do buy free range because it’s supposed to be kinder. Another illusion shattered I guess.

    I’ve got a great recipe for cookies that uses 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk per batch. What would you suggest replacing that with? (Don’t get excited, I’m not going vegan, but I’m very open to cutting down on the animal products if I can)

  2. What kind of cookies are they?
    Flaxseeds are great for the likes of oatmeal cookies because they give a slight nutty flavour – you could try 30g whisked with 90ml of water until sort of creamy and gloopy

  3. It’s Nigella’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies that I’ve adapted. I’ve varied the flavours – so far I’ve combined chocolate chunks with dried fruit – but everyone loves oatmeal cookies! Flaxseeds would be handy since I have some of them in the cupboard anyway; would I grind them before adding the water?

  4. Yeah, it needs to be ground flaxseeds, or you could try adding one small ripe banana, mashed, although this may give a softer texture. Happy experimenting!

  5. Aha, perfect opportunity to get out the pestle and mortar then (any excuse!). Thanks!

  6. I’m finding your blog really useful in my steps to become a ‘complete’ vegan. The last thing on the journey is removing eggs from my diet. I’m not a big sweet fan, haven’t had a piece of cake in at least 2 years but savoury is my downfall, especially using eggs.

    My speciality dish is a spanish omelette and quiches / tarts – what would you advise using instead of eggs?

    Thankyou and keep up the good work!

    • Thanks for the reply Rosie, I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and I’m glad you have found it useful.
      The Spanish omelette question I can’t answer as yet – it isn’t something I’ve tried to replicate but I have found some interesting recipes for scrambled tofu, and quiches made with tofu as well.
      For scrambled tofu you simply mash some tofu, add some seasoning and herbs and cook for a few minutes over a medium heat. You could also some lightly fried spring onions and pepper to the mix. This is lovely either on toast or next to some vegan bacon for breakfast or add it to a taco shell or soft tortilla with some chopped chilli peppers and fresh coriander for a Mexican twist at lunchtime.
      For a quiche, you can put some tofu in a blender with some vegan cheese (optional), add some milk until it forms a thickish paste. Add this mixture (with some vegetables or fake vegan meat) to your pastry case and bake for about 45mins at 190c. Also play about with herbs and seasoning until you find a ratio that suits you. Leave to set for a while before eating.
      I hope that helps you a little with your own vegan journey!

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