A lady came to my house for some eggs. She said, “I’m a vegetarian. I need vegetarian eggs. Are these vegetarian eggs?”
I said: “Well, hmmm….maybe yes….and maybe no.”
· Vegetarians do not eat animal flesh. The eggs in question are not fertilized. We do not have a rooster in with our flock. These eggs will never develop into a living animal.
· We feed our chickens organic feed that contains no animal by-products.
· Treats that come to our chickens from the house are for the most part organically grown vegetables and fruits–apples, greens, grapes, etc. or whole grains and pasta.
Maybe no because:
· Chickens are NOT vegetarians. They are omnivores.
· Our chickens do not technically “free-range”, although they have daily access to a large fenced yard, as do various flying insects and crawly bugs. Our ladies will chase down a grasshopper and devour it.
· At any time, we may have two or three hens in a screened summerhouse—on the lawn, in a field or on a garden bed. While scratching and digging, a chicken often finds a juicy grub or some other non-vegetarian item. They don’t cast it aside, and I don’t make them spit it out.
· Healthy chickens need protein in their diet. The feed they receive contains plant proteins, but there are times – like right now, when the flock is molting and needs extra protein for feather replacement—that we add mealworms to their diet. Dead or alive, mealworms are non-vegetarian snacks.
So. It depends on your interpretation of “vegetarian”.
If you feel that unfertilized eggs are vegetarian, then that’s what we have.
If you believe that eggs coming from a chicken with access to the outside world—eating what a chicken eats naturally—means that the eggs are NOT vegetarian, well, then that’s also what we have.
The only thing I can tell you for sure is that if you are buying eggs in the store that are marked as coming from vegetarian hens – you are buying factory farm eggs or the label is misleading.
How would YOU have answered?