Category Archives: Animals/Environment

The Cage Free/Organic Egg Myth

I just started eating eggs again a couple of months ago when I finally found a brand at Whole Foods that is Certified Humane. I really like eggs and missed them when I stopped eating meat. They are easy to cook and provide so many vitamins that I am probably not getting if I don’t eat eggs because for the life of me, I cannot remember to take a daily multi-vitamin.

I was eating the Whole Foods eggs until I happily discovered that the farmer’s market I go to sells eggs from chickens raised on a local farm. The yolks are a bright golden orange color (the color they should be!) and they taste so fresh. I don’t even mind spending $8 for a dozen because I can easily get 5 or 6 meals out of that!

Be warned: A lot of eggs are labeled as being organic, free range, cage free, etc. and there is NO standard as to what any of this means. Companies that produce eggs can essentially say whatever they want on the carton and put pretty pictures of chickens in green pastures on their egg cartons and at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean they are treating the chickens humanely by any means.  There are very few regulations.

Chickens are BY FAR the most abused/mistreated animals in the commercial farming industry. These labels are completely misleading. These companies will put whatever pretty pictures they need to on cartons to get you to buy them. Free range can just mean chickens have access to some small, cramped outdoor space. It doesn’t mean they spend all of their time outdoors or that there is even a standard for how much time they get outside. And getting any “fresh” air or access to nice green grass is probably not even an option because these farms are so infested with disgusting antibiotics and pesticides, not to mention animal waste that isn’t cleaned up. Cage free generally means a bunch of chickens are stuffed into an open warehouse type environment or indoor feedlot rather than being stuffed in cages. The workers often wear masks because of the overwhelming smell of ammonia. None of these are ideal situations for any animal or human.

Certified Humane Raised and Handled means that the company producing the eggs has to abide by certain standards when raising and killing animals, and if they are not upheld, they can lose their certification status. These companies must:

“Meet the Humane Farm Animal Care program standards, which includes nutrious diet without antibiotics or hormones, animals raised with shelter, resting areas, sufficient space and the ability to engage in natural behaviours.”

Certified Humane eggs are hard to find and they’re expensive. I am not saying everyone should immediately stop eating eggs. But there is a reason that the ones at most grocery stores are so cheap. They are likely full of disgusting hormones and antibiotics passed on from their mothers. The yolks are usually a pale yellow color which is completely unnatural for an egg. So be cautious and use your discretion when deciding what to feed yourself and your family. A quote I will never forget reading is “Every egg has an abused chicken for a mother.”

I know with absolute certainty it is 100% impossible for the whole world to become vegan and I don’t preach that at all because I think it’s unrealistic. But I  absolutely do believe in subsisting as much as possible on plant-based foods for health and moral reasons. I am also a VERY strong advocate for treating animals humanely. I hope to live to see the day that the concept of “commercial farming” is a thing of the past. I think farms should use natural methods for feeding, treating and raising animals rather than pumping them full of antibiotics and hormones.  I absolutely believe that this is 100% possible if we all work together to improve the lives and treatment of animals while improving our own health, happiness and well-being.

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Animal Quote

“Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to.”

-Alfred A.  Montapert

My Decision to Volunteer at a Shelter

I have been fostering cats and kittens for a local organization called Cat Town for the last year. They focus on taking the most shy, unsocialized and semi-feral cats from the shelter, placing them in foster homes to get them ready for adoption and actually finding adopters. They are affiliated with a local municipal animal shelter.

I love fostering but recently adopted my last foster cat, so I am unable to foster more right now (I have another cat and my apartment is not that big!). I have thought for years about volunteering at a real shelter and have really, really wanted to. But when it came down to it, I would get scared and overly emotional. I went to a volunteer orientation at a shelter in Illinois when I still lived there. I felt sick to my stomach and was completely turned off to the idea after that. The shelter was loud, cramped and smelled really bad. The animals looked so miserable in their tiny cages. I knew shelter life was rough on animals, but I just didn’t want to be forced to see it up close. For someone who loves animals as much as I do, it is just so hard to see that and not feel completely helpless, guilty and sad….and completely scared for those animals. Even though I really wanted to help, I couldn’t bring myself to show up to that depressing place knowing that the animals were stuck there. I really just wanted to take them all home.

At a recent Cat Town meeting, I met another foster/animal lover who said the same thing about volunteering. She admitted she couldn’t bring herself to do it because she’d want to rescue every animal. I felt relieved that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. But after I got home, I realized how ironic it is that a lot of the people that care most about animals have the hardest time volunteering at shelters. We are the ones these shelters need most.

I realized how stupid I was being and immediately thought of the animals over the years I could’ve helped but didn’t because I wanted to be able to save them all. How ridiculous. Even if I could only help one animal feel good for 10 minutes, I should’ve done that rather than nothing at all. I wish I could save every animal from shelter life and place them in a loving, lifelong home. I can’t, but I want to do my part. I can help out as much as I have the capacity to help, even if it’s only a small amount of time and I only get to interact with a small number of animals. Anything is better than nothing. I can spend some time with animals who might otherwise be left alone…scared, sad and confused. I can help socialize a cat who might have otherwise been assumed to be feral and inevitably euthanized. I can contribute my time and give as many animals as possible some love and attention instead of relying on other wonderful volunteers to do all the work.

I finally made the decision to volunteer at a local animal shelter. Last night, I went to my first orientation. To my shock and relief, the shelter was really nice and so were the people. It was clean, well-lit, organized and didn’t smell awful. The animals actually didn’t seem that miserable. There were an abundance of volunteers interacting with the cats and taking dogs outside to play. I felt such relief and wondered why I didn’t come sooner. The woman running the orientation was as sweet as could be. We went on a tour and got to see all of the different areas of the shelter. We saw dogs, cats, bunnies, guinea pigs and even a rooster and some ducks. They were all so sweet and adorable. We got to meet the “resident” cat named Flips… a sweet orange kitty with severe neurological problems who became a permanent shelter resident. The employees and volunteers take care of him. He wanders the shelter and has his own cozy section of the office to sleep and eat. I felt really good about helping out at such a good place.

I will train with cats first and then I hope to cross-train with the rest of the animals too (dogs and bunnies!). Some people may think it’s silly to take this so seriously and be so hesitant for so long, but it really is a big decision for me. I hope anyone else with the same hesitations will reconsider.

Leonardo da Vinci quote

“The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals  as they now look on the murder of men.”
          Leonardo da Vinci, artist and scientist

Quote from a former cattle rancher

“The cow is an exceptionally loving and gentle creature. She cries for days when her calf is taken from her. It is a pitiful sound, pitiful sound.”

-Helen Weston, former cattle rancher

Word From the Wise: Mark Twain

“I am not interested to know whether vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn’t…The pain which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity toward it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further.”
 -Mark Twain, author

Amazing Quote from a Nobel Prize Winner

“In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. Human beings see oppression vividly when they’re the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought.”

        –  Isaac Bashevis Singer, author, Nobel Prize 1978