The United States is reaching a tipping point on eggs. With one small change, you can make a real difference in improving the lives of millions of hens. We’re close to winning, but we need you!
Why are cage-free eggs important?
Egg-laying hens endure some of the worst abuses in factory farming — packed five or more to a tiny wire cage, they cannot move around freely or spread their wings.
A hen spends her entire life in a meager amount of space, smaller than a piece sheet of printer paper or an iPad. She cannot engage in any of her natural behaviors like nesting, perching, and dustbathing, let alone stretching and walking. In cages, these hens suffer from injuries, disease, and extreme mental and emotional distress. More than 90% of hens in the U.S. live in such cages today.
Cage-free hens are able to walk, spread their wings, and lay their eggs in nesting spaces, usually in large flocks housed indoors. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “cage-free hens generally have significantly better lives than those confined in battery cages.” To be sure, cage-free is just a baseline – there’s more we can do for hens, but cage-free is where we start!
Is this a Jewish Issue?
We are mandated by Jewish tradition to have compassion for all creatures, especially those who rely exclusively on humans for proper mental and physical care. Committing to the sourcing of cage-free eggs is a small, yet significant step towards fulfilling this mandate and treading more humanely on our earth.
For guidance, we look to the mitzvah of tza’ar ba’alei chayim, a rabbinic mandate and moral imperative that forbids causing animals unnecessary suffering. Perpetuating the mistreatment of farmed animals like these laying hens surely violates the value of compassion expressed in myriad stories and teachings throughout Jewish text and tradition.
Four states have already passed legislation phasing out the use of cruel battery cages, with more to come. Massachusetts is considering banning all sales of eggs from caged hens, which could have a ripple effect across the country.
Many major companies are switching to 100% cage-free eggs, including Costco, Starbucks, and McDonald’s.
If these multinational corporations can go cage-free, our community can too. But it starts with you and your institution. You can serve as a role model to the Jewish community, showing that it’s possible to become cage-free and live out our Jewish values of treating animals with compassion.
How can we switch to cage-free eggs?
- At the grocery store, look for egg cartons labeled “USDA Certified Organic,” which ensures cage-free conditions and the possibility of outdoor access.
- “Animal Welfare Approved” and “Certified Humane” are third-party animal welfare certifications that also verify cage-free conditions, and guarantee even higher levels of animal welfare:
- Use BuyingPoultry.com, a new poultry welfare rating tool, to search a list of cage-free egg brands and retailers.
- Download the new Hazon Food Guide for more information about going cage-free.
- Contact Jewish Initative for Animals for support in finding cage-free eggs.
We encourage every Jewish institution and household to commit to going cage-free this year.
For support and consultation on finding cage-free and higher welfare eggs, or egg-free alternatives, contact Jewish Initiative for Animals (JI4A.org) or email@example.com