Even if the nationwide salmonella outbreak from contaminated eggs hasn't actually made you sick, the horror stories that have emerged from the farms that produced these eggs have surely made you want to throw up your omelet?
The ongoing, nationwide recall of more than half-billion eggs has given us more evidence than we should possibly need that eggs hurt-- both the humans who consume them and the hens who are forced to produce them like machines while living in conditions no sentient creature should ever have to endure. Federal investigators this week found the henhouses in the two farms where the salmonella-tainted eggs originated, Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, were stacked with eight-feet-high piles of manure, and crawling with rats and flies and maggots that "crunched under foot."
It's a pretty safe bet that conditions at egg farms around the world are no different. Worse, hens at these farms go through immense suffering that has been observed and chronicled by organizations like the Humane Society of the United States:
Like birds raised for meat, chickens in the egg industry suffer immensely—beginning right after birth. Male chicks are considered byproducts, as they're unable to lay eggs and aren't bred for meat production. Millions each year are gassed, crushed, or thrown into garbage bins to die from dehydration or asphyxiation. Most female chicks are painfully mutilated without any anesthesia. The tips of their sensitive beaks are sliced off with a hot blade, making it difficult for them to grasp food...
More than 95 percent of hens in U.S. factory farms are intensively confined in small, wire "battery cages," stacked several tiers high and extending down long warehouses. Hens are given less space than the area of a letter-sized sheet of paper in which to eat, sleep, lay eggs, and defecate...After two years, the hens are no longer profitable and are ripped from the cages, limbs often tearing, as teams work at an hourly rate of up to1,500 birds, sometimes holding seven hens at a time. As with broiler chickens and turkeys, egg-laying hens are crammed in crates stacked on transport trucks and denied food, water, or protection from extreme temperatures during their journey to slaughter.
At the slaughter plant, the birds are dumped onto conveyors and hung upside down in shackles by their legs. In the United States, federal regulations do not require birds to be rendered unconscious before they are slaughtered... Birds have their throats cut by hand or machine. As slaughter lines run at rapid speeds (up to 8,400 chickens per hour), mistakes are common and some birds are still conscious as they enter tanks of scalding water intended to loosen their feathers.
Does that sound like a horror story? It is, a very real one at that, and who in their right heads would want any part of it?
If all that still isn't enough, and if you still actually believe eggs are good for you, chew on this: a single egg contains more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol-- that's more cholesterol than you'll find in a McDonald's Angus Beef Burger or in a KFC Double Down sandwich or, in fact, in almost any disgusting fast-food menu item out there.
Doesn't sound healthy to me.
Whether you're a vegan or not, eggs are by far one of the easiest foods to replace in your diet. Look at my vegan substitutes page for ideas on how to bake, cook and eat egglessly and healthfully and -- big bonus-- minus that absolutely yucky eggy stink.
And now, so I can put my egg substitute where my mouth is, here's my completely eggless French Toast recipe which would convert the hardiest egg aficionado. It's not just delicious, but it is actually good for you.
Eggless French Toast
(Adapted from this recipe)
5 slices wholegrain bread (use a mild-flavored grain, like wheat-- not rye or sourdough, unless you actually happen to like your French toast with those breads)
1 cup soymilk
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
2 tbsp flaxseed meal
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts, finely crushed (optional)
Oil to coat skillet or griddle in a thin layer
Place all ingredients except the bread, walnuts and oil in a shallow container and mix well.
Place the walnuts in a separate dish
Dip the slices of bread one by one in the batter and coat on either side. I let them soak about 20-30 seconds on each side.
Dip into the walnuts
Heat a skillet and coat with a thin layer of oil
Place a slice of the French toast on the skillet and cook on each side until golden brown.
Serve hot with a drizzle of maple syrup or agave nectar
For more eggless recipes, check out my Whole-Wheat Challah Bread, one of the most popular recipes on this blog, or my pancake, waffle , cake and cookie recipes that use absolutely no eggs.
Update: I was thinking of including this in my original post because I knew someone would inevitably raise it: that vegetables like spinach and tomato have also been recalled for salmonella contamination in the past. It's like that ultimate argument weapon in a meat- or egg-eater's arsenal.
Unfortunately for them, though, I do have an answer: It's the meat, stupid (that's not original, by the way, but I just couldn't resist it!)
Salmonella are intestinal bacteria that grow and flourish in animal intestines. Since vegetables don't have an intestine, the reason they get contaminated is because germs from chicken and cow feces in animal farms contaminate waterways used for irrigating vegetables. It's been proven time and again in federal and state investigations of these salmonella outbreaks.
The bottomline is this: animal farming is what causes salmonella. And stopping animal farming and giving up animal products is the only way to stop future infections of anything we put into our mouths.
Let's all toast to that!