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Coming To Terms with Animal Cruelty
by Jason Ketola
January 27, 2006

We can recognize the problems with battery-cage eggs without compromising any of our other values.


In my last column I told a story of how my heart was opened to volunteer work and activism by a boy named Ed. This week I'll continue my self-indulgent streak by sharing a story about my feelings toward animals; and yes, this story will be filled with similarly self-deprecatory facts. My intent isn't to turn all of my readers into animal activists but rather to suggest a way we might approach the issue of cage-free, eggs versus battery-cage eggs.

I didn't always care about animals. In fact, prior to becoming vegan almost seven years ago, I used to relentlessly make fun of vegetarian friends. I can't remember anymore whether I was defensive about my own meat eating (probably), but I certainly couldn't understand the diet. If you had removed Hot Pockets, breakfast pizzas and chicken tenders from my diet, you wouldn't have been left with a whole lot, maybe just Tater Tots and pasta. The vegetarian diet therefore seemed as unmanageable to me as it seemed unmanly.


... Actually, what led me to start caring was a chance encounter with a rat at math camp.

As part of a summer math and science camp at the University, we were given a tour of various research labs, and one day we were led through some of the research facilities in Moos Tower. Demonstrating research on the freezing of skin cells, a graduate student held before us a very animated rat that had some kind of metal contraption stretching the skin on its back. In order for us to inspect the rat, he would have to sedate it. When he stuck the syringe into the rat's abdomen, the rat let out the most horrific, piercing scream.


Naturally, not all of us will react the same way to this information. For those who want to eat eggs from chickens living in substantially better conditions, it's only a minor expense to purchase Certified Humane cage-free eggs, the standard promoted by the Humane Society of the United States. Even so, it's not even necessary to eat eggs to be healthy. If you're like me, reducing your consumption of animal products may have the benefit of expanding your culinary horizons beyond Hot Pockets and breakfast pizzas.

We can recognize the problems with battery-cage eggs without compromising any of our other values. We just have to see the wretchedness of the enterprise for what it is.

Jason Ketola welcomes comments at

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