In the April issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine, Martha talks about the flock of chickens at her farm in Bedford, New York. She started raising her own hens, she says, after personally visiting a factory egg farm. “I was so disturbed by what I saw—the cruel, inhumane conditions—that I vowed to always have my own coop,” she writes.
The “cruel, inhumane conditions” Martha speaks of are the battery cages that more than 90 percent of hens are confined to on today’s egg farms. Each cage, which is about the size of a filing cabinet drawer, holds from five to 11 hens. This will be the birds’ home for about two years, until they are “spent”, at which point they will be sent to slaughter. Their brothers, being of no use on an egg farm, are long dead, of course. Some male chicks are smothered in plastic bags, while others are macerated (ground up alive).
So-called “free-range” hens don’t have it much better. Most are confined to the same crowded, filthy, windowless sheds that factory-farmed “broiler” chickens are raised in. “Free range” simply refers to the fact that they aren’t in cages, not that they are necessarily roaming around on a bucolic farm like Martha Stewart’s.
Obviously, we don’t all have spacious farms in the countryside like Martha, but the good news is that we don’t need them. Because avoiding factory-farmed eggs is as easy as reaching for a bag of flaxseeds or a block of tofu.
A commercial egg replacer like Ener-G Egg Replacer can be used for baked goods, or try substituting one banana or 1/4 cup of applesauce for each egg in a recipe. Flaxseeds are another healthy egg substitute in baked goods—they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. One tablespoon of ground flaxseeds whisked in 3 tablespoons of water equals one egg. (For a complete vegan baking “cheat sheet,” visit PETA.)
Bill Gates has been in the news lately for putting his money where his mouth is—literally—by financing an exciting new product called Beyond Eggs. The egg replacer is touted as being cheaper, healthier, and less perishable than real eggs. When presented with a muffin made with real eggs and one made with Beyond Eggs, Gates reportedly was unable to distinguish between the two.
“To make these things that are cheaper, probably more healthy, less cruelty involved, less greenhouse gas emissions—it’s quite a phenomenal thing,” Gates says.
Next thing you know, we’ll be seeing recipes calling for Beyond Eggs in Martha Stewart Living. You heard it here first.