Ethics of eggs -Possibly controversial- - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 06-14-2013, 05:28 AM
 
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This question may get me banned, but it's been burning on my mind for a while now. I have completely eliminated dairy but am hovering on eggs. This is because my family do not buy free range eggs, but have seven hens. We feed them grains, shell grit, veg/fruit scraps and all our other food. They are housed very comfortably, have the whole backyard to themselves and sleep in warm dry nests. So in this case, is it still ethically wrong to consume their eggs? I'm mainly asking because my doctor recommended I have at least two egg whites a day to recover from a severe protein deficiency, and these eggs are cheap, fresh and I know how the chickens are treated huh.gif thoughts?

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#2 Old 06-14-2013, 06:05 AM
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I always hovered on the same question....until I followed my mom out one day to see her chickens while she collected eggs. One of them didn't want to move over so my mom could get the egg and my mom said "aww...she wants to be a mama". And it made me feel sad for the hen. And even if the hens didn't care about their eggs (some don't), they are able to get back some of the nutrition lost from laying by eating the contents of their own egg. So really, their eggs are still for them, not us.

Now I'm not going to tell you what you should do. Eating eggs from backyard chickens is hardly the worst thing in the world. But it isn't vegan. Is it ethical? You decide. You don't have to get protein from animal sources though. There's plenty in plant food.
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#3 Old 06-14-2013, 08:01 AM
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My sister keeps three or four rescue chickens and as she has no cockerels none of their eggs are fertilized so no chance of hatching. None of them have ever shown an inclination to eat them themselves either. As Shauna_m says it is not Vegan to eat eggs and you can get protein from many other sources.

Having said this I think you could be asked not to post on the Vegan threads but would not be banned from the Veggie Boards should you decide to eat eggs.
 

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#4 Old 06-14-2013, 09:42 AM
 
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Well you wouldn't really be able to class yourself as vegan, not that you probably care.

My only issues with this (we have rescue hens and I don't eat the eggs) are:

A) they aren't made for us
B) if people see some who has a moral baseline regarding the use of animals eatiing eggs they will, I would guess, automatically assume that ALL eggs are ok to eat. It is very rare that someone will only eat organic grass fed beef. They may say they do but when they go out to restaurants etc they wont. So I would worry that if people saw me consuming eggs it may clear their own conscience on consuming ANY eggs.

I've heard that many hen sanctuaries boil the eggs up and give them back to the birds as it gives them the nutrience they lost laying it.

My wife eats a couple every so often but I don't. I like talking to people about my veganism so it wouldn't sit right eating any eggs.
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#5 Old 06-14-2013, 03:18 PM
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Good for you for questioning the advice of your doctor!

Ethical choices can be relative to the degree in which you wish to attain.

Do you want to build your body from the flesh of animal?

Even if the animals are treated like royalty is it good for you? 

We need to work on getting beyond convenience and taste and choose the best for what we put into ourselves (whole plant foods). 


Caring about our health is caring about our very state of being and future which is a very good thing to be seriously concerned about making the most of.

 

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#6 Old 06-14-2013, 03:34 PM
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As far as a complete protein source without too much fiber, I might recommend tofu. That said, if you are recovering from an illness, a registered dietitian's advice would be best -- their training is devoted to nutrition, while doctors only get very basic nutrition training.

For the ethical part, the main issue I have with backyard hens is not how they are kept, but what happens before they are acquired. Most people purchase chicks from breeders that dispose of the unwanted male chicks, sometimes by tossing them live into a meat grinder. sad.gif The only acceptable eggs to me would be from rescued chickens. Even in that case, I've read that producing eggs is very nutritionally depleting for the chickens, and places like Farm Sanctuary cook the eggs from their rescued chickens and feed the eggs back to them.
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#7 Old 06-15-2013, 05:25 AM
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I agree with all that was said so far.  Keeping chickens for any reason (which keeps the chicken industry for humans alive unless it is a rescued animal that will not be bred) is sort of like keeping pets (which keeps the pet industry alive). 

 

Also, by keeping chickens and eating their eggs we are still using those chickens for our own purposes, even if there is a benefit for the chicken (such as shelter, food etc).  Whether the eggs will otherwise go to waste doesn't really matter.  A lot of animals in the wild die and their bodies go to waste because other animals do not find and eat them.  We are the only species in the world that keeps other animals confined for our benefit.  We are also the only species capable of morality or immorality. 

 

And the thing about keeping animals like this is that they are entirely dependent on us (not the best way to ensure their survival).  If something happens to the owner (death, or financial problems, or illness), often the animal pays the ultimate price unless there are plans in place for that animal (and too often the animal is the last detail humans worry about when having personal problems of this nature).  For every well meaning responsible "owner", there are a thousand more that do not know how to care for animals, or neglect them etc.  And because the chicken is so dependent on the human, it can not fend for itself against predators that come calling, such as fox or badgers or even domestic cats and dogs.  The chicken still has to be confined somewhere at some point to protect it from the predator.  Grouse in the wild are much more capable of surviving on their own and protecting themselves because there has been far less human interference with them. 

 

I find it odd that a doctor would choose eggs as a protein source for a severe protein deficiency, as eggs are not that high in protein, and certainly there are plant proteins that are much healthier. 

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#8 Old 06-15-2013, 05:49 AM
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How many eggs in thw world come from a backyard rather than industry ?

 

As far as i am concerned, i made the choice of participating in changing things so as to close down any egg, milk, and meat related place ( at my scale, don't care if it takes a thousand generations )

 

even assuming that a backyard would be ethical ( i lived on a farm at some point, hot milk straight from the breasts lol ),

 

i would see a lack of consistency by fighting for something, pushing others who do not have my possibilities to stop while i myself keep doing it.

How many would understand the difference ? How not to expect a seriously reduced credibility and efficiency in changing things ?

 

What's more, if one if to abolish say industrial egg laying places, but keeps the backyard ones, it deprives part of the population, raises the desirability and price of the product, and therefore encourages industrial places that would fake the backyard without so much changes ( think organic food ).

 

At your own individual scale, you may see it as ethical, but isn't our own ethical scale based and part of bigger ethical choices and movements ?

 

There is a bunch of people going in the streets in my city in a few hours, to protest for the closing of slaughterhouses. Main point is not the gov, but as i say planting seeds in people, and having a few discussions with curious people brave enough to ask questions. If i say your stuff, it will be the difference between someone going vegan, and someone buying fake so called organic free range eggs in the shops ( yeah, those eggs are not organic and free range doesn't mean that the animals are free and happy, far from it )

 

See i see this not only in your personal context, but also as to what it implies on a bigger scale.

 

As to your health, plenty of other sources, even better ones.



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#9 Old 06-15-2013, 06:11 AM
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i would see a lack of consistency by fighting for something, pushing others who do not have my possibilities to stop while i myself keep doing it.

How many would understand the difference ? How not to expect a seriously reduced credibility and efficiency in changing things ?

 

 

^^^^ This :) 

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#10 Old 06-15-2013, 12:58 PM
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If the chickens are rescues and won't be used for breeding or for meat and don't display protective attitudes toward the eggs then I don't see any ethical problem with it.

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#11 Old 06-22-2013, 10:49 AM
 
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I don't feel that consuming the eggs of chickens necessarily disqualifies you from being vegan. To me, the more contentious issue should be the fact that you keep chickens as pets (and this is no different from anyone else who has a pet), because that still represents the complete ownership of an animal, something we don't do to other humans, and is akin to slavery. I am not saying that keeping pets is wrong, because in many cases it provides animals a far better life than they would otherwise have, just that I think the question of whether doing so is vegan or not deserves far more debate than the question of consuming the eggs of hens you already keep as pets.

 

As long as you don't go around telling other people that eggs are a necessarily part of our diets (and you're sure that the chickens have no more use of the eggs), I can't see how consuming the eggs causes the animals to suffer more. It is not vegan if you choose to define veganism as the pre-emptive abstinence of ALL animal by-products, even in situations where it would not lead to greater animal suffering, but I choose to stick to Donald Watson's original definition of veganism as the 'logical extension of vegetarianism'. Boycotting all companies that engage in cruel practices seems very logical to me. It's the kind of thing that I don't even need to think twice about. This one? Eh, not so intuitive or logical.

 

Yes, maybe the idea of humans 'using' animals is disgusting. But in my opinion, that's more subjective than objective (aka, it only exists in our minds). I could very well say that the idea of humans using plants or microorganisms is equally disgusting. But that's already more a matter of preference and opinion than universal truth, as long as we can maintain some level of confidence that these two groups don't suffer. It's entirely possible that animals don't mind being 'used' if you treat them well, in the exactly same way I don't mind being 'used' by my boss if he treats me well.

 

Lastly, I believe that NOTHING about veganism should be set in stone. Everything should remain up for debate. Veganism is a philosophy, not a doctrine. If there are certain aspects of veganism that everyone can agree on (eg. boycotting companies that do animal testing), it is because justifying these behaviours is logically untenable no matter how you see it, and not because some dude decreed that vegans must do so and so.


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#12 Old 06-22-2013, 11:29 AM
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Given that the hens have no where to go I don't think it is unethical to eat their eggs. But it is unethical to get hens for the purpose of taking their eggs. Given that the harm is already done I don't see any big problem with it. This is simply decided by gut feeling for me.

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#13 Old 06-22-2013, 11:36 AM
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I agree with much of what you say here. I also agree with things being up for debate. The only thing about you and your boss is that you are equally rational and know what you are getting and what else is possible. Animals don't have that ability, they do not know their options. I think ideally it is best for there to be no domestication. While some animals need a home though it is fine.

 

 

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I don't feel that consuming the eggs of chickens necessarily disqualifies you from being vegan. To me, the more contentious issue should be the fact that you keep chickens as pets (and this is no different from anyone else who has a pet), because that still represents the complete ownership of an animal, something we don't do to other humans, and is akin to slavery. I am not saying that keeping pets is wrong, because in many cases it provides animals a far better life than they would otherwise have, just that I think the question of whether doing so is vegan or not deserves far more debate than the question of consuming the eggs of hens you already keep as pets.

 

As long as you don't go around telling other people that eggs are a necessarily part of our diets (and you're sure that the chickens have no more use of the eggs), I can't see how consuming the eggs causes the animals to suffer more. It is not vegan if you choose to define veganism as the pre-emptive abstinence of ALL animal by-products, even in situations where it would not lead to greater animal suffering, but I choose to stick to Donald Watson's original definition of veganism as the 'logical extension of vegetarianism'. Boycotting all companies that engage in cruel practices seems very logical to me. It's the kind of thing that I don't even need to think twice about. This one? Eh, not so intuitive or logical.

 

Yes, maybe the idea of humans 'using' animals is disgusting. But in my opinion, that's more subjective than objective (aka, it only exists in our minds). I could very well say that the idea of humans using plants or microorganisms is equally disgusting. But that's already more a matter of preference and opinion than universal truth, as long as we can maintain some level of confidence that these two groups don't suffer. It's entirely possible that animals don't mind being 'used' if you treat them well, in the exactly same way I don't mind being 'used' by my boss if he treats me well.

 

Lastly, I believe that NOTHING about veganism should be set in stone. Everything should remain up for debate. Veganism is a philosophy, not a doctrine. If there are certain aspects of veganism that everyone can agree on (eg. boycotting companies that do animal testing), it is because justifying these behaviours is logically untenable no matter how you see it, and not because some dude decreed that vegans must do so and so.

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#14 Old 06-22-2013, 11:38 AM
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If the chickens are rescues and won't be used for breeding or for meat and don't display protective attitudes toward the eggs then I don't see any ethical problem with it.

This.


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#15 Old 06-22-2013, 04:46 PM
 
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If the chickens are rescues and won't be used for breeding or for meat and don't display protective attitudes toward the eggs then I don't see any ethical problem with it.

Agreed. +1. Although, it is not vegan to eat eggs... but you could still be an ethical vegetarian smiley.gif

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#16 Old 06-22-2013, 06:19 PM
 
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There seems to be a view that consuming 'happy' eggs is not vegan, even if it's not necessarily unethical.

 

I don't think this idea makes sense. Veganism is more a moral imperative than a lifestyle choice. Veganism is about doing what is right. If you claim that something is not vegan even if it isn't necessarily wrong, you're basically saying that veganism includes all sorts of morally extraneous ideas, and it's not clear whether it matters even if you don't follow them. You're reducing veganism to a preference, not a universal logic.

 

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I agree with much of what you say here. I also agree with things being up for debate. The only thing about you and your boss is that you are equally rational and know what you are getting and what else is possible. Animals don't have that ability, they do not know their options. I think ideally it is best for there to be no domestication. While some animals need a home though it is fine.

 

 

 

That's true. I think the tricky issue with how we handle animals is that it's very difficult to know what they are okay with and what they aren't. As long as we can't engage in proper dialogue with them, we risk imposing our views of what it means to live a proper, dignified life.


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#17 Old 06-22-2013, 06:43 PM
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Personally I don't think there is a universal logic to morality. You might mean something other than what I think by it though. Though I agree with you it is best to keep veganism a moral concept. For example if oysters were not sentient (like plants) or lab meat was made I would like to consider them vegan. If we come up with a new term for them then 'vegan' will lose its moral "prestige" and most people will simply stop using the term. I feel similarly about unintentional roadkill. But with happy eggs the problem is who are we to decide how these animals should live their lives? If we hold them captive they might miss out on a lot of their natural pleasures even though they may get security. So "happy" may not be so happy after all. If they are already in captivity and cannot survive by themselves I would not have a problem with considering it vegan provided they are well cared for and their best interests are kept in mind. I think best not to interfere unless the animals cannot live by themselves. If they cannot then I think best to reduce their number dramatically in the future.

 

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There seems to be a view that consuming 'happy' eggs is not vegan, even if it's not necessarily unethical.

 

I don't think this idea makes sense. Veganism is more a moral imperative than a lifestyle choice. Veganism is about doing what is right. If you claim that something is not vegan even if it isn't necessarily wrong, you're basically saying that veganism includes all sorts of morally extraneous ideas, and it's not clear whether it matters even if you don't follow them. You're reducing veganism to a preference, not a universal logic.

 

 

That's true. I think the tricky issue with how we handle animals is that it's very difficult to know what they are okay with and what they aren't. As long as we can't engage in proper dialogue with them, we risk imposing our views of what it means to live a proper, dignified life.

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#18 Old 06-23-2013, 08:22 AM
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Eating eggs of any kind isn't vegan, but that doesn't seem to be the question.

There are two problems with eating eggs - especially "happy" eggs. The first is that it perpetuates the notion that for some reason we need to consume animal products to thrive. We simply don't. It's better for our health, the environment, and the animals for us not to use them in any capacity.

The second problem with "happy eggs" is that each and every hen that you rescue had a brother that was ground up alive or smothered alive shortly after he was hatched. Half of all fertilized eggs hatch male chicks who don't get to live. So it's imperative to forego eggs, even if you intend to raise the hens in chicken palaces, because thinking it's "ok" means the continuation of brutally killing nearly all male chicks.
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#19 Old 06-23-2013, 11:18 AM
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Why do you think it perpetuates that notion? Even if it did you do not necessarily need to worry about others making faulty assumptions in ignorance. We cannot be held responsible for that.

 

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The first is that it perpetuates the notion that for some reason we need to consume animal products to thrive. We simply don't.

 

 It does not imply that. There is a difference between incidental products and intentionally cruel products.

 

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So it's imperative to forego eggs, even if you intend to raise the hens in chicken palaces, because thinking it's "ok" means the continuation of brutally killing nearly all male chicks.
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#20 Old 06-23-2013, 11:59 AM
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I'm in a similar situation myself. I plan on getting egg laying chickens sometime this year and I will eat the eggs. My main reason for getting chickens, aside from the fact that I love them and think they make wonderful pets, is that my family refuses to give up eggs. I've told them that buying eggs means supporting an industry that grinds up live chicks and stuffs birds in cages so small that they can hardly move. My dad and brother are apathetic to this. So if they're going to eat eggs I'd rather they be from our chickens so that at least we aren't supporting the terrible egg industry. I'm also going to make sure I don't get my birds from a hatchery (commercial breeder) where the male chicks are killed. Instead I'm going to rescue some ex-battery birds that would otherwise be killed. I'm hoping we'll have enough eggs that I can still feed some of them to the chickens but if not I'll put them on calcium supplement so they can still get the same nutrition they would get from eggs. It's not the most ideal situation but it's the best I can do. 
 

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The second problem with "happy eggs" is that each and every hen that you rescue had a brother that was ground up alive or smothered alive shortly after he was hatched. Half of all fertilized eggs hatch male chicks who don't get to live. So it's imperative to forego eggs, even if you intend to raise the hens in chicken palaces, because thinking it's "ok" means the continuation of brutally killing nearly all male chicks.

I'm not sure how you're arriving at the conclusion that rescuing hens somehow condones or perpetrates the egg industry. Using that logic Farm Sanctuary is as bad as industrial farming. 

 

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#21 Old 06-23-2013, 01:14 PM
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If the chickens are rescues and won't be used for breeding or for meat and don't display protective attitudes toward the eggs then I don't see any ethical problem with it.

If the world didn't view animals as objects to be used as needed, then I'd agree with the above. However, given that's not the case, the main ethical problem I see with it is that it reinforces the idea that animals can be used as needed.

There seems to be a trend of farm animals (usually starting with chickens) in backyards in cities. A number of people I know have gotten chickens as well. Then their friends got chickens, then neighbors also got chickens. While it may be that some are purely coincidental, it seems that a number of them did so because of a neighbor or friend.

Some got some rescues, however others regularly purchase a number of them that come in a box in the mail (which I find terribly sad). Some have also gone from just eggs to also purchasing chickens for consumption.


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There seems to be a view that consuming 'happy' eggs is not vegan, even if it's not necessarily unethical.

I don't think this idea makes sense. Veganism is more a moral imperative than a lifestyle choice. Veganism is about doing what is right. If you claim that something is not vegan even if it isn't necessarily wrong, you're basically saying that veganism includes all sorts of morally extraneous ideas, and it's not clear whether it matters even if you don't follow them. You're reducing veganism to a preference, not a universal logic.

Vegans don't use or consume animal products. Eggs are animal products. So vegans done consume or use eggs.

I don't like to try and equate veganism with some kind of moral view point. I have a moral point of view of not using animals, as such I don't use or consume animal products (to the best of my abilities). Because of not using or consuming animal products, the word 'vegan' is applicable to me. It's not that I decided to be vegan and therefor there are activities or actions I need to do or not do, nor viewpoints I must have. The latter seems to be getting it backwards.

Whether egg consumption is moral or ethical is open for debate, however changing the meaning of a word because of personal preference doesn't make sense.
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#22 Old 06-23-2013, 01:58 PM
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Why do you think it perpetuates that notion? Even if it did you do not necessarily need to worry about others making faulty assumptions in ignorance. We cannot be held responsible for that.

 It does not imply that. There is a difference between incidental products and intentionally cruel products.

If you choose to eat eggs, you must get them from hens. If you continue to raise or rescue hens, you require that fertilized eggs be hatched in order to attain those hens. If you require fertilized eggs, 50% of those hatched eggs will contain male chicks which will be ground up or smothered before they are more than a day or two old.

Consumption implies demand, demand creates supply.

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#23 Old 06-23-2013, 02:15 PM
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No doubt financially supporting the cycle of exploitation is bad. But when it comes to rescuing hens that are already here and need a home and lay eggs anyway it isn't the same thing.

 

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If you choose to eat eggs, you must get them from hens. If you continue to raise or rescue hens, you require that fertilized eggs be hatched in order to attain those hens. If you require fertilized eggs, 50% of those hatched eggs will contain male chicks which will be ground up or smothered before they are more than a day or two old.

Consumption implies demand, demand creates supply.
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#24 Old 06-23-2013, 02:37 PM
 
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So if you rescued a pig and treated it really well much like a pet would you chop it up and eat it once it died of natural courses?

It isn't causing any harm or suffering to the animal?
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#25 Old 06-23-2013, 02:48 PM
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Absolutely! Would not consider it morally wrong with people either if the culture was set up that way.

 

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So if you rescued a pig and treated it really well much like a pet would you chop it up and eat it once it died of natural courses?

It isn't causing any harm or suffering to the animal?
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#26 Old 06-23-2013, 03:01 PM
 
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What about an elderly relative? haha!

In all seriousness I read an essay that mentioned this may be what we will have to do to survive in the nearish future.

I personally wouldn't want to eat any of my family be it a human, a pig, a dog or a chicken. Same goes for anything that they produce.
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#27 Old 06-23-2013, 03:07 PM
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You don't have to do it I wouldn't either unless in bad circumstances but if others don't mind doing it by all means they can do it, they can feast. Nothing inherently wrong with it. No victim no crime!

 

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What about an elderly relative? haha!

In all seriousness I read an essay that mentioned this may be what we will have to do to survive in the nearish future.

I personally wouldn't want to eat any of my family be it a human, a pig, a dog or a chicken. Same goes for anything that they produce.
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#28 Old 06-23-2013, 03:19 PM
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If you choose to eat eggs, you must get them from hens. If you continue to raise or rescue hens, you require that fertilized eggs be hatched in order to attain those hens. If you require fertilized eggs, 50% of those hatched eggs will contain male chicks which will be ground up or smothered before they are more than a day or two old.

Consumption implies demand, demand creates supply.

That's absurd. You just keep rescuing hens. The egg laying industry goes through hundreds of thousands of them a year, it's not like there's any shortage of hens needing rescuing. 

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#29 Old 06-23-2013, 03:25 PM
 
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So if you rescued a pig and treated it really well much like a pet would you chop it up and eat it once it died of natural courses?

It isn't causing any harm or suffering to the animal?

For those who have seen The Best Speech Ever, doing this would be right in line with the classification of humans as scavengers


"To the beaten pig, I hear your screams; to the scolded chicken, I feel your pain; and to the stunned cow, I see your suffering. It is real to so many of us who value your life on earth as much as our own. We are no more important than you. We are so sorry that humans possess so little mercy for those whom they have the power to abuse. We will do everything we can to end your misery until the day we die. You are not alone."
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#30 Old 06-23-2013, 03:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cato View Post

No doubt financially supporting the cycle of exploitation is bad. But when it comes to rescuing hens that are already here and need a home and lay eggs anyway it isn't the same thing.

No, of course it's not. However, I have become skeptical that the number of people who claim to care for "rescued" hens have indeed truly rescued them.

It is our choices that show what we truly are far more than our abilities. ~A. Dumbledore
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