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Question Hello Kurma.
I am a nineteen year-old girl still living at home. Recently I started reading the Bhagavad-gita, and have became a vegetarian and happily stopped eating meat, eggs and fish. I am healthy and satisfied with my new, more spiritual life and my improved diet, but my mother tries to encourage me to at least eat eggs. What's wrong with eating eggs? Can you help me explain to my mother, from a spiritual, health and humane point of view, why I would prefer not to eat them?

Helen Donegal, Dublin, Ireland

AnswerHello Helen,

Firstly, from the spiritual standpoint, strict devotees of Krishna, also known as Vaisnavas, eat only foods that are first sanctified by offering them to their Lord. Eggs cannot be offered to God, neither can meat and fish.

Why is this? Well, eggs are a form of flesh and blood - being either an embryo or the chicken's menstrual period. Menses can be considered dead flesh. It does not matter if the egg is from a chicken raised on a so-called "free-range farm" or not (see below for more on this) - this fact does not change.

Here are a few medical reasons why you'll be better off not eating eggs:

Eggs are very high in cholesterol. Specifically, the yoke of eggs contains the cholesterol, a waxy substance that deposits in the liver and blood vessels leading to possible corrosion and hardening of the arterial walls.

The egg white is the more harmful portion of the egg. In some tests, animals fed on fresh egg white developed severe skin inflammation and paralysis.

Chicken diseases are numerous - look at the Avian flu! Eggs may also carry T.B. from chickens. If an infected chicken survives, it matures and lays infectious eggs. Chicken leukemia and other bird-specific diseases may also be transmitted through the eggs. Hens infected with white diarrhea will lay eggs containing the germs.

Eggs are acid forming and they have an excess of phosphoric acid.

Both the bile and pancreatic juices are indifferent to egg white. Nearly 33 to 50% of the egg white passes through the digestive tract undigested.

Here's some more information:

Regarding so-called "free-range eggs": although most consumers imagine free-range hens have access to the outdoors with plenty of sunlight, vegetation, and normal social interaction, to most egg producers, the "range" is simply a bigger cage than those in which battery-caged hens are kept.

Free-range egg farming is, after all, a business. Consequently, profit surpasses concern for the animals' comfort, welfare, or behavioral needs. In addition, it is not uncommon for free-range birds to be debeaked just like battery-caged ones.

But even if free-range hens were treated with kindness and given all the space they could use, they will still be killed for meat when their egg production wanes, usually after one or two years, even though in a natural environment a hen could live fifteen years. And, like all other animals raised for food, they will be subjected to the horrors and abuses of transportation, handling, and slaughter.

Another problem with all egg production, whether free-range or battery-caged, is the disposal of unwanted male chicks at the hatchery. Because male chicks don't lay eggs and do not grow fast enough to be raised profitably for meat, they are deemed a financial liability, except for the few used as rooster studs.

On average, one rooster is used to service ten hens. Hence, nine out of ten male chicks are considered virtually useless and will be killed by the cheapest means available, including suffocation and being ground up alive.

I hope this sheds some light.

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