Some eggs are labelled "vegetarian-fed". Could that be it?
All this means is that they weren't fed slaughtered or gassed/suffocated/otherwise-killed members of their own species (other egg laying hens or their also-killed male brothers/sons) or other animal species. This label has nothing to do with their welfare. And, like all commercial eggs including "free-range", "cage-free", etc, "vegetarian-fed" eggs still come from birds who are often mutilated (parts of their beaks seared off with no anesthetic) and are always slaughtered once their production of eggs slows down and isn't optimally profitable anymore.
My understanding is that vegetarian eggs are from chickens fed a completely vegetarian diet which leads me to believe that they would have to be cage hens otherwise they could not control their diet 100% ie earthworms, grasshoppers etc... although what is stopping the hens eating bits of each other I do not know.
Sounds like marketing nonsense to me -- all chicken eggs are lacto-ovo vegetarian.
That said, I try to buy organic, free range eggs for two reasons:
- I find that battery eggs have very thin shells that shatter rather than cracking when I break them. I also suspect they don't taste as good, but I haven't compared them side-by-side.
- I believe that chickens are treated *slightly* better on farms certified as organic. I acknowledge that there's nothing in either the organic standard or in any free range certification that says their beaks can't be cut off, so it's far from perfect.
In our house "vegetarian eggs" would be soft scrambled tofu that looks and tastes a lot like scrambled eggs... (probably more accurately they should be called "vegan eggs" but my toddler didn't think of that when she started calling tofu by that title many years ago.)
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