His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has issued a statement in the wake of the largest egg recall in United States history. In a letter, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate decries the egg industry’s cruel treatment of hens and urges egg buyers to switch to cage-free eggs:
“The abuse we inflict on hens has always been particularly disturbing to me and I have always been particularly concerned toward how these animals are treated in industrial food production. I am troubled to learn about the practice of confining egg-laying hens in tiny cages. In these cages, birds cannot engage in their natural behaviors, such as spreading their wings, laying eggs in a nesting area, perching, scratching at the ground, even standing on a solid surface. Each hen has less space to live than the very sheet of paper I have written this letter on. Turning these defenseless animals into egg-producing machines with no consideration for their welfare whatsoever is a degradation of our own humanity. Switching to cage-free eggs would reduce the suffering of these animals.”
The Dalai Lama’s statement comes as a major U.S. movement against cruel and inhumane cages on factory egg farms is taking root. Prominent U.S. corporations from Burger King to Safeway are switching to cage-free eggs. Michigan and California have passed laws to phase out the use of cages to confine hens. California has also passed a law requiring that all whole eggs sold statewide be cage-free by 2015. In Ohio, agriculture leaders agreed to a moratorium on the construction of new cage egg facilities. Other religious leaders have issued similar statements.
- About 95 percent of egg-laying hens in the United States are confined in cages so small that the animals can’t even spread their wings.
- Cage-free hens generally have two to three times more space per bird than caged hens. Cage-free hens may not be able to go outside and, like caged hens, may have parts of their beaks cut off, but they can walk, spread their wings and lay their eggs in nests–all behaviors permanently denied to hens crammed into battery cages.
- The European Union has banned barren battery cages, effective 2012.