- “Chickens develop inside an egg shell, so the nutrients needed for their development are all present when the egg is laid.” Raymond Peat, PhD
- “Some people have been encouraged to eat only the whites of eggs, “to avoid cholesterol,” but the egg albumin is rich in tryptophan.” Raymond Peat, PhD
- “There can be a great difference between eggs from chickens that really have adequate pasture, and the standard ones, but the labels aren’t likely to contain enough information. ‘Organic-free range’ chickens in the US are usually fed soy and corn in a crowded outdoor pen. In the US I seldom eat more than one large egg per day, in Mexico where I know where the chickens live and what they eat, I eat more of them.” Raymond Peat, PhD
- “Naturally grown free-range chickens used to be favored, because they could eat anything they wanted, but now eggs laid by factory chickens, eating an industrial corn-and-soy diet, are from “vegetarian chickens,” because the marketers know the public will favor eggs that have the vegetarian mystique.” Raymond Peat, PhD
- “Considering that most of our food animals are fed large amounts of grains and soybeans, it isn’t accurate to speak of their fats as “animal fats.” And, considering the vegetable oil contained in our milk, eggs, and meat, it would seem logical to select other foods that are not rich in unsaturated oils.” Raymond Peat, PhD
- “When you see “vegetarian fed” chicken products, the manufacturer is broadcasting their inferiority to pasture-raised eggs” Rob Turner, Functional Performance Systems
- “The omnivore’s fatty acid composition is reflected by their diet. Omnivorous poultry and pig fat tissue are more unsaturated relative to a pastured animal when fed the industrialized diet rich in unsaturated oils. Herbivores like cows, buffalo, goat, and lamb detoxify the unsaturated oils in the diet rather efficiently but do so best when fed a natural diet.” Rob Turner, Functional Performance Systems
- “Many of the largest U.S. sellers of organic eggs boast that their hens are vegetarian, and for an increasingly food-curious public, this may be great advertising.
A carton of Eggland’s Best advertises that the company uses “vegetarian fed hens.” Horizon promises that their eggs “come from hens that are fed a 100% organic, vegetarian diet.” Land O Lakes hens have a diet with no animal fat or by-products.
Yet for the chickens, who are natural omnivores that readily devour bugs and small animals when they’re available, the forced vegetarianism can be a disaster.” Peter Whoisriskey, People love chickens that are “vegetarian fed.” But chickens are not vegetarians
- “Egg producers are increasingly advertising their chickens as ‘vegetarian’ thanks to a diet free of animal byproducts. Here’s why that isn’t a good thing. I’m going to get right to the point for those that would prefer not to peck around the issue: chickens are not vegetarians. It is not a natural diet at all for them, and it’s also potentially harmful to their well-being.
If you’ve never owned or spent any time with these intelligent and curious animals, I completely understand why this is news. The thing is, chickens are expert scavengers — picking and scratching at the ground for not only plants and seeds, but also worms, grubs, flies and anything else that moves. I’ve seen my chickens kill snakes, swallow frogs whole, and even fight over scraps after the cleaning of a deer. In the latter example, both my dogs and barn cats kept a safe distance from the feathery meat-eaters going mad around my ankles. You really don’t want to get between a chicken and its meal.” Michael D’Estries, No, chickens are not vegetarians
- “A hen has a mouse and doesn’t wanna share. I think this is an excellent example of how chickens are not vegetarians. As part of my article on raising chickens, I talk about how I am uncomfortable with the idea of eggs being labeled with “vegetarian diet.” About half of a chicken’s natural diet is bugs! And sometimes mice and snakes.” Paul Wheaton, A hen and her mouse: chickens are not vegetarians, but mousers
- “Chickens left to their own devices will just as happily nibble on grasses, weeds, herbs, flowers, grains, seeds, nuts, veggies, berries and fruit as they will gobble up all the bugs and insects, larvae, spiders, worms, grubs, and even small rodents, birds, snakes, lizards and frogs they can catch.” Lisa, Chickens are Omnivores, not Vegetarians
- “One of the most outrageous food labeling tricks today? The scam of labeling free range chicken and eggs – organic or not – as “vegetarian fed” like this is somehow a good thing that is desirable for the consumer as well as the chicken.
Chickens are not vegetarian my friends! In fact, feeding a free range chicken a vegetarian diet is a recipe for poor quality, low nutrition eggs and meat. Not only that, this approach for feeding chickens is inhumane as the chickens will more likely suffer from parasites and ill health and probably live a shorter life than properly fed chickens.” Sarah, Scam Alert: “Vegetarian Fed” Free Range Chicken
- “One of the points I always try to convey when I host farm tours at Polyface Farm is that chickens are omnivores. Visitors have no problem with the fact that pastured poultry eat lots of green grass, herbs and clover, but cringe at the notion that these beautiful, healthy birds also supplement their diet with plenty of animal foods as well. In the green season, the birds eat lots of grasshoppers and fly larvae (out of the cow pies).
But what happens when the chickens go indoors for the winter, and insect life is all but nonexistent except for the occasional pill bug and spider in the deep bedding material? Traditionally this is when farm flocks were supplemented with vermin, cut open for easier access to the internal organs. Chickens gladly and voraciously tear at the flesh and guts of a freshly shot groundhog, opossum or raccoon. Chickens have a featherless face for a reason—it is easier to keep clean after indulging in flesh. We see the same physiology in wild avian scavengers like vultures.
Large-scale organic and free-range egg producers love to advertise the “vegetarian-fed” status of their birds. Certainly, a vegetarian-fed chicken does not have access to insects or it would lose the privilege of this label. We can also assume that no access to insects means no access to pasture, little to no access to the outdoors, or, worst of all, continuous confinement.
Unfortunately, the vegetarian feeding regimen of organic and free-range poultry induces a paler, weaker egg yolk than their omnivorous, beyond-organic counterparts. There is absolutely nothing natural about a vegetarian-fed chicken, and to be sure, the nutrient profile of eggs and meat from birds fed this way is going to be far inferior to birds with access to insects and meat scraps. Traditional farm flocks were often kept solely to consume the family’s kitchen waste— much of which was meat and scraps of fat.” Matt Rales, Chickens Are Omnivores: It’s No Dilemma
The best quality eggs are from chickens that have sunlight and access to roam outside, eating bugs and pasture. A happy chicken is a healthy chicken, and a healthy chicken produces healthy eggs for us to eat. A good label to read on egg cartons is the phrase “Pasture Raised”. This usually ensures that the chicken is eating grass and bugs on the pasture. A great added bonus is to see that the farms are not feeding their chickens corn or soy. The farmers usually promote this on the egg cartons saying corn free and/or soy free. The best way to know the quality of the eggs you are eating is to talk to the farmer whose eggs you are buying. Call the distributor of the eggs you buy from the store. Talk to the store personnel. Read the packaging. The East End Food Co-op displays the quality of the eggs they sell, allowing me to know what the animals are being fed, how they are being raised and what farm they come from so I can contact the farmer(s) directly for more information if I need or want it. Farmer’s markets are another good place to ask questions to find quality animal products.