The Egg Industry

Most people are unaware of the violence and suffering involved in the egg industry. Eggs are actually worse than most meats in terms of animal suffering (see below), and chickens are still slaughtered for meat.

Newborns Killed

The global egg industry destroys six billion (6,000,000,000) newborn male chicks every year.

Male chicks born to egg-laying hens can not lay eggs, and are not the breed used for meat. Hatcheries that supply egg farms with female chicks separate the males from females through a violent process known as “sexing.” Since males are worthless to the egg industry, they are disposed of like trash, either gassed, suffocated to death or ground up alive in large industrial macerators.

Eggs sold under organic, free-range, and humane labels, and even chicks sold to backyard chicken keepers, also have their origins in these killing hatcheries.


Egg labels are often intentionally deceiving. There are no government-regulated or -enforced standards for “free-range” egg production. “Cage-free” only means that hens are not kept in cages.

But more than 20,000 birds can be severely confined in a windowless, warehouse-style shed and still have their eggs sold under “free-range” or “cage-free” labels.


Most eggs are not even sold under humane pretexts. These conventionally-raised, factory-farmed eggs come from birds who are kept in wire battery cages stacked by the thousands on top of each other inside warehouses without fresh air or sunlight.

The birds are crammed so tightly, they can not even spread their wings. Conditions on egg farms are so miserable that many consider eggs the cruelest animal product of all.


Newborn chicks typically have 1/3 to 2/3 of their extremely sensitive beaks seared off without pain reliever. Debeaking is standard practice in the egg industry, including on most cage-free and free-range egg farms.

A chicken’s beak is the sensory equivalent of a human fingertip — loaded with blood vessels, pain receptors, and free nerve endings that facilitate food detection in the wild.


Like the meat and dairy industries, the egg industry is also a slaughter industry. While their natural lifespan is 8 to 10 years or more, hens used for eggs are generally killed at 12 to 18 months when their egg production declines. They are either slaughtered for their meat—being paralyzed by electric shock and having their throats slit—or they are disposed of by being gassed or thrown alive onto dead piles. Learn more here.

Egg-Free Baking

It’s easy and delicious to replicate eggs in vegan baking; you just need to familiarize yourself with the different plant-based options for each egg functionality in cooking. Check out our Egg-Free Baking Tips, visit the Happy Herbivore’s excellent Egg Substitute Cheat Sheet, and bookmark this page on tried and true egg replacers for baking from