If you’re Vegetarian, you aren’t Vegetarian.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Aug 8, 2012
get elephant's newsletter

The blog that finally turned me vegan, 2.5 years ago? After 9 years of being vegetarian.

“Virtually all hens in commercial egg operations—whether cage or cage-free—come from hatcheries that kill all male chicks shortly after hatching. The males are of no use to the egg industry because they don’t lay eggs and aren’t bred to grow as large or as rapidly as chickens used in the meat industry. Common methods of killing male chicks include suffocation, gassing and grinding. Hundreds of millions of male chicks are killed at hatcheries each year in the United States.”


When we drink milk, we’re killing cows. When we eat eggs, we’re killing chicks.

If you eat eggs, watch the Video. If you don’t, spare yourself.


Wherever eggs come from, this is what happens to all the male chicks (since they can’t lay eggs).

This is why I became vegan: Greg and others impressed upon me that eating dairy is the same thing, though better (less impact in terms of factory farming, killing) than eating meat.

“Male chicks are of no use to the egg industry,so they are either suffocated in garbage bags with waste, or shoveled together by the hundreds and conveyed into a grinder to be torn apart while still alive.”

Same with cows: thus, the veal industry. If you drink milk, your supply is demanding the killing cows.

“There is, unfortunately, no way to breed eggs that only produce female hens,” said spokesman Head. “If someone has a need for 200 million male chicks, we’re happy to provide them to anyone who wants them. But we can find no market, no need.”

[Different breeds of chickens that are used for eggs and meat. ~ ed.]

Via Reddit:

They’re also put in carbon dioxide chambers. Saw that on a Jamie Oliver special.


Text from the video at top:

“Thrown, dropped, mutilated, and ground-up alive. This is the disturbing reality faced by hundreds of thousands of chicks each day at the world’s largest egg-laying breed hatchery Hy-Line International in Spencer, Iowa.

New hidden camera footage obtained at this facility during a http://www.MercyForAnimals.org undercover investigation gives a disturbing glimpse into the cruel and industrialized reality of modern hatcheries.

The warm, comforting, and protective wings of these newly hatched chicks’ mothers have been replaced with massive machines, quickly moving conveyor belts, harsh handling, and distressing noise. These young animals are sorted, discarded, and handled like mere cogs in a machine.

For the nearly 150,000 male chicks who hatch every 24 hours at this Hy-Line facility, their lives begin and end the same day. Grabbed by their fragile wings by workers known as “sexers,” who separate males from females, these young animals are callously thrown into chutes and hauled away to their deaths. They are destined to die on day one because they cannot produce eggs and do not grow large or fast enough to be raised profitably for meat. Their lives are cut short when they are dropped into a grinding machine tossed around by a spinning auger before being torn to pieces by a high-pressure macerator.

Over 21 million male chicks meet their fate this way each year at this facility.

For the surviving females, this is the beginning of a life of cruelty and confinement at the hands of the egg industry. Before even leaving the hatchery they will be snapped by their heads into a spinning debeaker a portion of their sensitive beaks removed by a laser. Workers toss and rummage through them before they are placed 100 per crowded box and shipped across the country.

The callous disregard for animal welfare at this facility is not isolated. In fact, the conditions documented during this investigation are completely standard and acceptable within the commercial egg industry. Referred to by Hy-Line corporate leaders as mere “genetic products,” these chicks are treated just as they are viewed as inanimate objects, rather than the sentient creatures they are.

Driven by consumer demand, the egg industry will continue to exploit, abuse, and kill day-old animals as long as doing so remains profitable. Empowered consumers can put their ethics on the table by choosing kindness over cruelty at each meal by adopting an animal-friendly vegan diet.”


Some comments via Facebook:

Kristi Glaze word.

Timothy Hanley Vegans are pretentious and bad for our farmlands.

Ben Harper alarming video. but, if you are a meat eater, the fact that animals die in the process of producing food, is not really a deal breaker, ya know?

Scott Ely It’s time to render your own meat. Easier said than done, I know.

Vicky Allen Gomez Great- Thanks for sharing such important info! I encourage EVERYONE to watch: “FROM FARM TO FRIDGE” (12 mins “glimpse” into animal agriculture & why a plant-based diet is the most compassionate way to go). “EARTHLINGS” (90 mins) is a step further & fantastic documentary. BOTH are on You Tube. BOTH are serious game changers.

Kathy Wnuk You don’t have to be vegan (and vegans are not pretentious, btw) is to get a few backyard chickens and purchase meat locally if you must eat meat. Most meat eaters don’t want to know how their factory farmed chicken/eggs/beef is processed. And most don’t care, as long as the price doesn’t go up. So, sadly, they won’t purchase from a local, organic, humane farm, but from Walmart. I have a few chickens – I purchased them for $2 each, and raised them carefully making sure that they remained healthy. Right now they’re in my yard jumping up and picking blueberries off the bushes. The eggs are amazing, the chickens are happy.

Kathy Wnuk Thanks, Vicky – and don’t forget Food Inc., and excellent documentary with a companion book. http://www.facebook.com/Foodinc
Food Inc
In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food indus…See More
Page: 493,889 like this

Tom Frascone I love that self-labeled vegans think they’re not harming animals because of their selective lifestyle. Those who preach about their own righteousness while also shunning others for their personal choices are nothing but hypocrites.

The reality is that it’s virtually impossible to live any sort of modern lifestyle without using animal products in some way shape or form, even if you don’t know you’re using them. e.g. Ride in a car? Cars aren’t vegan. Live in a house? Houses aren’t vegan. Use a computer? Computers aren’t vegan. All of these things use natural and synthetic polymers and materials, many of which come from animals in some way (or were treated/processed using animal products). e.g. http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/9-everyday-products-you-didnt-know-had-animal-ingredients.html

Please keep your “vegan” lifestyle choices to yourself – the same way you probably expect religious people to keep their religious choices to themselves – and we’ll keep our non-vegan lifestyle choice to ourselves. No one is forcing you to eat hamburgers, please stop telling me how to live my life. lol
9 Everyday Products You Didn’t Know Had Animal Ingredients

If you thought that by quitting meat or at least going weekday vegetarian you were doing your part to avoid the horrors of factory farming,

Vicky Allen Gomez PLS WATCH: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzrRmB40l00
From Farm To Fridge
c’est pour ça on mange que du Halal…

Matt Jisa Veganism REDUCES animal suffering and that is the goal: LESS animal suffering. Vegans are used to heartless, defensive, and irrational comments made by people like Ben Harper and Tom Frascone on this comment thread. We are undeterred. The truth is there is NO down side to being vegan. Every single person on this comment thread would love being vegan.

Vicky Allen Gomez Exactly, Matt. Thank you. Precisely. The GOAL is to lessen global suffering for ALL sentient beings. It’s about bridging the connection & interdependence of all sentient beings. Going Vegan & becoming more aware of what I purchase in regards to ALL products, not just food, has made me happier as well as more compassionate & mindful in my daily choices. And in these very dark times that we all live in, there’s nothing wrong with being a bit more kind to one another & to ALL inhabitants on Earth.

Kristin Otten I think saying that “every single person on this comment thread would love being vegan” is a sweeping overgeneralization. I believe in vegan/vegetarian/omnivore unity! And I was vegan for a year – a well-researched vegan who did all the “right” things. I ended up with many health problems and had to start eating meat (local! organic! humanely raised!). It was difficult but my body thanks me for it. I made the switch after the recommendation of several alternative health care providers encouraged me to do so. I care so deeply about animals still and I had to decide that I am the most important animal in my life, which was a very important realization. I am still aware, compassionate, and mindful about my choices. Isn’t there room for all of us? I don’t “knock” vegans and I don’t appreciate being criticized for my way of eating. I call for unity on all fronts! We are all working hard to do our best.

Helen Stutchbury I agree with Kristin – awareness is the answer, not more boxes to put people in or judge them for. I also agree with LESS animal products, but that is the inevitable result of raising awareness. There is not a one size fits all answer to anything, except this: loving kindness to ALL beings, regardless of what they eat.

Vicky Allen Gomez ‎@ Kristin Otten- Yes, we are all trying to do our best with what we are individually given. But there is nothing “humane” about killing an animal. Period. Free-Range chickens aren’t in battery cages but they are still jammed packed in windowless, dirty & huge sheds, living with broken limbs & infections, etc. The same goes for meat of all kinds that are “organic”. They may be feed organic feed, not feed with GMO’s (70% of ALL American food is genetically modified to suit industry NOT health [except “certified organic”] ) but they are ALL processed by the same slaughterhouses & produces the same amount of CO2 gases, etc. It goes a step further by WATCHING: “MEAT THE TRUTH” on You Tube (environmental effects of meat eating & production) AND “FORKS OVER KNIVES” (health repercussions of eating meat). Yes, we will all choose our own path. Just offering more info & options in order to make critical decisions on how we want to live.

Laira Fonner i love compassionate people!!! yeah!

Kristin Otten Yup! @Vicky – I have watched them. 🙂 I was a very informed vegan and very passionate too. Take good care!

Lisa Lentil ‎”I don’t feel superior because I’m vegan… the truth is, I’m vegan because I don’t feel superior to anyone”! (Michelle McOwen) Vegan For Life!!! (((♥)))

elephantjournal.com Matt, I’m Vegan—my point is sharing this essential info is precisely what inspired me to change from a 9 year vegetarian to vegan. And perfection isn’t the goal, and vegans aren’t all pretentious, that’s silly generalization!

Now read the blog, commenters!


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


65 Responses to “If you’re Vegetarian, you aren’t Vegetarian.”

  1. […] sunlight. No fresh air. Enclosed in darkness to plump up in an insanely artificial way. That’s the reality for most chickens being farmed today. And if the farmers under contract with the Big Boys do not agree to raise their livestock that way, […]

  2. Aurelie says:

    It would be beautiful if we could all live eating only fruits and vegetables but we are not designed this way. So many vegans end up getting really sick.. I was a once a vegetarian who ended up vegan for the same reasons as you. I ended up so sick although i was researching heaps and trying to eat all the right things. Now I look and observe traditional societies, none of them were vegans. One of the rare vegetarian people on the planet, in India, eat tones of raw dairy product and cook everything in plenty of clarified butter.Why do you think the cow is sacred to them? There is a reason for this. Traditions were build over thousands of years and have so much wisdom. WHy not support traditional farming method instead of rejecting everything in a block? i understand your disgust towards the industrialisation of food (and everything else) but going vegan is not a long term solution and is not health wise. Go and tell native americans they are not wise. Tell the indians they are not wise. tell the massai he is not wise. tell the beduin he is not wise. People have been eating animals and their products for a very long time remaining respectful to them and the environment and still being highly spiritual. thats what we should aim for. The natural ecology, the natural food chain, the world is all about death and being born again. Don't live in fear, embrace your nature as a human but respect the world.

  3. Cassie says:

    As a nurse I see people who are very ill, sick and dying every day from diseases related to Meat & dairy, I have yet to see a person sick or die from being a vegan. Please watch Forks Over Knives for a better understanding of the health benefits of going vegan. You can also read The China Study for more info.

  4. Susan says:

    I wish vegans would see themselves as diplomats slowly leading folks closer to their point of view without expecting meat eaters to go full on vegan asap. It's just not reasonable and does not do much good in the name of progress towards a healthier planet and a more compassionate consumer. It's a process to change eating and cultural habits that have been lifelong ingrained in oneself. The process can take years, but one may never begin the journey if turned off by what I see as sometimes verbally abusive tactics. I know meat eaters on this thread and everywhere participate in verbal abuse too, but I think the burden to rise above it, will always be the responsibility of those who are truly in the right. Although I do not eat an entirely veggie diet, I try & I know we can clean up our planet and our conscious if we were all to adopt a more animal free diet. Vegans, to me are so passionate, so smart, so well informed, but miss the mark on being diplomatic. I love the idea in this article and thread, of doing better, not doing perfect; it must be applied in all parts of our lives, why would it be any different with food? I think if vegans could represent the middle ground better in the belief that many who meet them there would finally cross over, this transformation that is so necessary to our society, would happen much more quickly.

  5. Bholenath says:

    Indian yogic diet are vegetarian, Ayurvedic as well. Rishis who founded yoga as spiritual tradition dont thought that consuming milk products are violation of Ahimsa. Of cource, its not about mass-killing food industry of vodern world. Its horrible and i`m pity that founders of American yoga festivals, as Wanderlast or Bhaktifest serving meet food to people. I think because their main goal is not yoga or bhakti but $$$.
    But i`m suprising, why in such vegetarian vs vegan discussions most of people ignore an idea of ethical farming, like Aurelie mention in previous post? Hare Krishna people doing this from 70s, a lot of Hindu farmers in India doing this – its possible to take diary from well treated cows who will not be killed after. And its completely according traditional yogic, vedic and ayurvedic approach to diet. So why not to promote idea of eco and ethical farming?

  6. Bholenath says:

    And somebody compared vegans point of view with Jainism conception of Ahimsa here. But Jain people in India are not vegans. Actually no one traditional or religious vegan society in the World, only in over-produced Western countries. Of course its good to fight with this horrible food industry, especially in country which have probably more food than any other country in the World. Much more than population actually need. But some people according to their prakriti (ayurvedic constitution) could not be vegans without health problems. (if you are pure vata dosha for example). Also for traditional yogic practice on the level of advanced pranayamas pure raw milk and ghee are very useful products (look at Hatha Yoga Pradipika). So i think its better not only fight against killing industry, but promote positive desicions as ethical farming as well. Make reports about Hare Krishna cow farms for example and publish them in Elephant. Show people different points of view – not only duality of straight vegan vs meat eater 🙂

  7. @dicooley says:

    it's interesting how defensive people get about this issue. (Why the anger and vitriol towards vegans?). Eat what you want but be informed. If you see this and you have no problem with it, fine. Personally, I am glad that I saw this because it has informed me and enlightened me. Some of you people sound like you're NRA card holder and Obama is coming for your guns. No one is trying to take your food away from you.

  8. Jennifer says:

    what do you suppose they would do with these chicks male and female if not used for eggs or food? Just keep allowing them to reproduce until the world is over ran by chickens? Doubtful/ Another thing, these are laying hens do you really think they are hatching 21 million chicks a year? Every chick that hatches is an egg that can't be sold.

  9. Diana says:

    Not if they are your own chickens. I raise 2 beautiful backyard chickens that give my family just enough eggs. Besides my understanding is that it is almost impossible to sex them at birth. Where I live the roosters often end up wild. Although I do know some people keep them for fighting roosters. I don't agree with that either. Wild is fine with me.

  10. Lauren says:

    Veganism is not necessarily the answer, though it's fine if that's what you want to do. Instead of shunning all animal products, like eggs and milk, why not simply STOP giving your milk and egg money to the industrial farms and track down a small-scale family farm to support in your neighborhood? This, in my mind, is a far more powerful form of activism. Instead of choosing a lifestyle that is 'against' the factory farms, why not instead make a positive choice 'FOR' the small-scale, sustainable farm?

    I produce both eggs and dairy on my farm. My goats create awesome raw milk for drinking, cheese, yogurt, kefir, etc. They like their job, as evidenced by the fact that they wrestle each other to be first in line every morning to go to the milking stand. Also, we don't kill and eat their babies! Our mama goats raise their little ones from day one, while also giving us milk every day. In fact, they have the intelligence and sensitivity to know how to manage this situation! In the morning, they graciously give me a certain amount of milk, and withhold the rest for their little ones to eat immediately after milking time. It is quite amazing!

    And regarding egg production, I know of no small-scale farms that make a practice of grinding up male chicks. Rather, most folks keep a flock of laying hens for egg production, and every few years, simply purchase a few more hens to supplement the flock and keep the eggs coming. Often, roosters are sold to homes that desire one for breeding purposes. We keep a rooster because he gives us fertile eggs for our hens to hatch, and he also protects our girls very well from predators. He is the tender of the flock!

    The real problem lies in the assembly-line, factory animal systems. I agree, there is no place in this world for that paradigm. It needs to go. But please, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you truly want to see humane treatment for animals, support the people who are doing it right. Don't just campaign against the bad guys!

  11. Aurelie says:

    Hello Cassie, i have watched fork over knifes which is based on the China study. I really do not think very highly if this book, which is really bad science. The people you see in hospital might be sick from very different reasons. The main ones in industrial societies being : eating processed food (vegetarian or not), living stressful and unnatural lives and being exposed to toxic chemicals. Certainly not because they ate meat or other animal products. Most traditional societies did eat meat and did not get any of the degenerative diseases modern people get. I highly respect vegetarian people and i was myself vegetarian for a long time and also vegan for a shorter time. I used to have the same emotions and opinions on meat eating and also dairy etc.( I worked on dairy farms). But now i really do think that it is more productive to support small scale ethical farming methods as opposed to reject the all lot. Humans have been living in harmony with nature while eating animals for a very long time. We can do this again. Peace

  12. Briana says:

    The computer you are using to comment from isn't vegan either. Think of the baby chicks.

  13. Jenn says:

    The comments from bholenath and aurelie are spot on, respectful, and have produced the most knowledge on this page (including the article). I just want to say there is a big difference in the videos shown here and my neighbor with his backyard chickens. I am sorry that Waylon and others here do not see the difference perhaps it is you blinded by your own light. Big industry farming is disgusting in most of all they do and grouping everybody who eats meat with them is a cheap unresearched lame thought especially when the title makes your readers think this article is about you (like really I thought this was going to be a personal one not an agenda) but really it’s about how bad those of us who eat locally sources loved and cared for meat are and how we should change. Well I am glad you are vegan and I am not. Balance is a beautiful thing.
    * o yes and don’t think I didn’t notice that elephantjournal did not have a reply for the most thoughtful and intelligent comments on this post.

  14. zensor says:

    does anybody care about the well being of plants/vegetables? is the animal kingdom superior to the plant kingdom? so much about cruelty towards animals, what about plant cruelty? as pointed by a few, the real problem resides on the industry itself, either of animals or plants… is it healthier to gmo lettuce to free-range chicken? im just throwing my peeble into the pond. I am on a continuous search on how to find a balanced diet that can sustain me and the environment. I have no hopes for a perfect world, for a perfect diet or even a perfect society, for all is in constant change. However, awareness is important and any kind of extremism is dangerous, either vegetarian or not.